Why Athletes Should Eat Carrots + Fit, Fast Recipes

Trendy vegetables come and go, but carrots are a perennially popular pick in the produce department! I’m a non-discriminating vegetable lover and would never suggest kicking kale to the curb or saying bye-bye to beets, but these veggies, among other others, have enjoyed more than their fair share of time in the proverbial sun and now seem to be wilting away. But, let’s not forget about the tried-and-true carrot! Why Athletes Should Care about Carrots -- Health benefits that improve performance, recover and overall well being plus some easy, nutritious recipes using carrots.

All ages and all stages love carrots. Babies spoon up pureed carrots, kids munch on crunchy carrot sticks, and even finickiest of foodies can find a gourmet carrot recipe to delight.  Thanks to a host of health benefits and an easy-to-pack profile, this enduring edible also makes the perfect superfood for all types of athletes including runners, triathletes, football players, CrossFitters and other sporty types.  Plus, carrots are filling but are low in calories, with only about 50 calories for a cup of carrot slices or 5-ounces of baby carrots. If still questioning how carrots can help your athletic performance and need some great carrot recipes, read on:

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3 Ways to Grill Corn Perfectly this Summer

Raise your hand if you can’t resist corn on the cob !  Not only is this vegetable fun to eat, it’s usually super cheap in the summer season – I just bought a dozen plump, juicy organic ones at Whole Foods for $3 total! Making corn on the cob on the grill is super easy; it’s a must-have at our house for backyard barbecues and casual entertaining. You know it’s on my menu for all the big summer celebrations including Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and our big family reunion!    jennifer grilling cornThere are three main ways to cook a whole ear of corn on the grill, and I’m going to run you through them. But, first, you’ll want to find the freshest corn possible for the yummiest result. Corn sugars undergo enzymatic reactions after ears are picked, slowly converting into less tasty, mealy starches. So, the fresher the corn, the sweeter – all the more reason to make friends with your local farmers.

3 Ways to Grill Corn Perfectly -- the perfect side dish to any backyard BBQ or summer celebration!

Method 1 – Cook Corn in Husk

 Grilling an ear of corn in the husk is so simple and mess-free – the end part of the cob serves as a handle as your peel back the husk dig into the steamed kernels. Notice how I said “steamed” – that’s because this method actually uses water from all the parts of the corn to steam it into tenderness – the grill just serves as the heat source. If the corn is fresh, it won’t need a pre-soak in water. However, if the husk looks a bit dried out, soak the entire ear of corn in water for about 10 minutes before grilling.

How to: Simply place corn directly on the coals or grates of your grill or campfire (heated to about 400F degrees) and cook for approximately 10 to 15 minutes until tender (peel back husk if needed). The outside will be blackened, but inside it’s pure perfection. Peel back the husks; remove the silks and butter and season to your preferences. If you want to get fancy, you peel back husks without taking completely off, remove silks, butter and season and then pull back up the husks before grilling. But, I think this makes it too complicated (and the butter tends to drip out!)

Method 2 – Foil-wrapped

Grilling your corn wrapped in foil is a handy-dandy way to prepare it if you don’t want family and friends to be dealing with charred, messy husks. Again, you are actually steaming it with this method.  Plus, you can easily oil, butter or season your corn before cooking and the toppings won’t drip out . . . and you don’t have to deal with mess and logistics of setting out these perishable condiments if you have a large crowd.

How to: Shuck corn toss away silks and husk. Wrap the corn in heavy duty aluminum foil, with or without flavorings like butter, herbs, salt, pepper, grated cheeses, etc.  Grill right on top of hot coals, or on a grill grate set, turning a few times, about 10 – 15 minutes

Method – Naked

This is my favorite way to prepare corn on the grill because I like the nutty, smoked flavor that a bit of charring on the kernels brings. However, this method is not “steaming” like the other ways to grill corn, so the final result is not quite as juicy and, it can’t be cooked directly on coals. But, I feel like this is how we do it down here in Texas and it tastes so good — yeehaw!

How to: Pull back husks and remove completely or braid and tie off for a decorative effect. Pull away most of the silks – the remaining will burn away on the grill! Cook corn over a medium-hot grill (about 400F degrees) for about 10 to 15 minutes, rotating frequently to prevent burning and encourage all-over light charring. In the last few minutes you can brush with a flavored olive oil and sprinkle with herbs or do that while still warm before serving.

Grilled Corn with Ancho Vinaigrette is a southwestern inspired side dish for your next bbq or summer celebration.

I love serving my grilled corn with slightly spicy-sweet Ancho Vinaigrette – you can get my recipe here:

CalCornia Shrimp Pizza makes a speedy mead for busy weeknights - grill or make in the oven.

I’ve also been known to grill waaaaaaay to much corn and I’ll shear off the kernels and use in recipes like my Cali-Corn-ia Shrimp Pizza!

cooking light cornAlso, check out Cooking Light’s collection of in-season ideas for Cooking with Corn.

So, how do you usually make your grilled corn – foil, husked or naked? Also, do you use those little stab-in handle thingies or just eat right out of hand? Got any corny jokes? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer