SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

September 17, 2013

Traditional ‘corn’ tortillas

(This is not the CORN I’ve been panning  and bitching about because it’s all GMO.  You’ll have to read this article to discover the full impact here.    Frederic Patenaude has been doing a great job running the editorial stuff for Kevin Gianni over at Renegade Health (one of my favorite blogs), while Kevin uses this time to fully immerse in his role of being a DAD and to get some needed personal time.  The man is a human dynamo and as good as they get.   Jan)

A Gluten-Free Food Most People Overlook  

By Frederic Patenaude

I used to spend every winter in Costa Rica, for about five or six years in a row. It’s there that I developed a taste for traditional corn tortillas. In Costa Rica, they accompany every meal. They serve an important role on the diet, although not as much as in other countries like Mexico.
In spite of all the anti-carb propaganda, I think traditional corn tortillas are excellent, especially home-made ones. They’ve been used for thousands of years by the Mayans, and later exported to many latino countries of the world.
  • The corn tortillas that I’m talking about are relatively small and white. In some countries, they can be blue or yellow as well.

In the US many people can tell the difference between flour tortillas and traditional corn tortillas, because of Mexican cuisine. However, many people I meet don’t really understand what I mean by traditional corn tortillas.
A regular flour tortilla will contain wheat flour, along with some fat and salt. They are big, soft, and used to make burritos.
  • Traditional corn tortillas are usually white, and don’t contain any added fat or salt. They are not made with the vegetable “corn” but rather white maize. This type of corn is richer in protein and much more nutritious.
  • To soften the corn, it’s soaked in an alkaline solution, usually lime (calcium hydroxide). This makes the corn more digestible, and has the added benefit of leaving lots of calcium in the tortillas. It softens the kernel, releasing the germ, and lets the corn convert nutrients such as the B vitamins into forms that are easily absorbable by the body. This essential step turns basic corn into a “superfood.”
Traditional corn tortillas only contain ground corn, water, with lime used in the process — if they are made the traditional way. The only fat they contain is the natural fat contained in the corn.
So what’s great about them?
As a source of carb coming from cereals, corn tortillas are almost ideal.
•100 grams of those will give you a whooping 5 grams of fiber.
•They’re high in calcium, about 170 mg. for that 100 grams serving.
•Protein is decent: 6 grams.
•And they contain a good amount of vitamin B12, magnesium, and potassium.
One of the added benefits of those tortillas is the lack of salt. Only 11 mg. per 100 grams serving!  (On the other hand, flour tortillas contain 482 mg. per 100 mg. serving!)
  • And let’s not forget the fact that corn tortillas are 100% gluten-free.
Some people don’t like corn tortillas because they are bland and grainy in texture. But I like them just for that reason. Once you heat them up quickly, they become soft. Because the taste is more neutral, it accentuates the flavors of the other foods you’ll put in them.
If you’re familiar with Tex-Mex cuisine, you know that corn tortillas are used to make “soft-shell” tacos.
Most people who only grew up with “El Paso” tacos think that tacos are made with hard-shell tacos.
But no… soft corn tortillas are used for what is called a “taco” in many latino countries.
I use corn tortillas to replace bread in most situations. You can eat them with guacamole and other topics, with eggs in the morning instead of toast. You can use them as a side for pretty much any food that you might want to “scoop” on top.

Where to Buy Corn Tortillas

You can make your own corn tortillas, but for that you’ll need a tortilla press, and white corn flour processed with lime. Those things can be purchased at latino markets.
I prefer to purchase them pre-made, from a local latino store that makes them the traditional way. Make sure to ask them for the ingredient list.
But… nothing tastes better than fresh corn tortillas. If you have the chance to try them one day, it’s worth it.
(My Comment:
I love this article and am so sold.  However, I still do not choose to eat Genetically Modified anything!   I searched around online and came away realizing that this may not be for me after all, because most of the corn harvested anywhere is now GMO.   Prior to 1994, corn yields were in the neighborhoods of 9 bushels of corn an acre and now it totals to around 170.  They ain’t goin’ back.  Everybody loves their profit picture.  At least that’s what I found.  Maybe you can find otherwise.  It’s a given, if you can ascertain its ORGANIC  then of course, there is no problem.  Without labeling laws on packages, if we go to a Mexican store and ask for homemade – – what assurance do we have?    Maybe we should go over to Renegade Health and ask Frederic for an answer.  Jan)

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