Corn tortillas are on the menu, and they are quick and easy to make and so versatile you’ll want to have them at the ready. Corn tortillas are one of those foods I never used to think of making because I imagined they’d be too complicated to make. For years it just seemed like for some reason commercial processing was a necessary component of the product. A whole new world opened up when I learned that in just minutes I could make my own fresh corn tortillas waiting to be filled with savory or sweet fillings.
What are the issues with conventional corn?
If you’ve followed research and commentary in the health space for a while, you know that there are two significant issues with conventional corn: it is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, with an estimated 50% of all pesticides being used on corn; and non-organic corn is most likely genetically modified. One of the results of genetically modified corn was the introduction of a chemically engineered insecticide that contains a protein which manifests characteristics of known allergens. So, the question is really are more and more people allergic to corn or to the insecticide that has been chemically engineered into GMO corn? Hmm…
Is corn healthy?
Fresh organic corn, a grain rather than a vegetable, contains vitamin C, B vitamins, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, selenium, iron and zinc. Organic corn and corn flour can be a healthy addition to our diets as long as we do not have allergies or sensitivities to corn. Just be sure you look for organic GMO-free corn.
Whhhaaaattt? Doesn’t this sound like some kind of nasty processing that you wouldn’t go near? It turns out that nixtamalization, is simply the process of cooking and soaking corn in an alkaline solution, typically lime lime. Nixtamalization has been practiced for thousands of years and has a number of benefits:
- removes aflatoxins and reduces mycotoxins
- makes corn more easily digestible
- makes it easier to grind the corn
- makes the dough for tortillas more pliable and less likely to tear
- increases nutrient availability, particularly niacin
- improves flavour
If you purchase regular corn flour that has not been nixtamalized, it will not hold together when mixed with water. You should look for organic masa or masa harina, not corn flour, as it will have been hydrated in an alkaline solution and is what you’ll need to make tortillas.
Who should avoid corn?
Corn is a common food allergen. If you suspect you have food allergies pay attention to how you feel after consuming corn. People with digestive issues may be better off avoiding corn. Anyone with a sensitivity to corn or corn products should avoid consuming corn tortillas.
How to use corn tortillas
- Breakfast egg wrap. Add some or all of these favourites to the scrambled or fried egg: avocado, chopped tomato, sweet peppers, hot peppers, onions, sautéed greens, hot sauce, salsa, cashew cheese sauce.
- A unique take on the traditional peanut butter and jam sandwich: try tahini, banana and hemp seeds; pumpkin butter with sliced apple, pumpkin seeds and a sprinkle of cinnamon; or a combination of almond butter, banana, strawberry chia jam and hemp seeds
- Use corn tortillas instead of lasagna noodles for a pasta free lasagna
- Make enchiladas, tacos, tostadas, or crepes.
- Cut into triangles, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with spices, herbs, and/or nutritional yeast and bake in the oven to make baked corn tortilla chips.
- tortilla press (optional)
- 2 cups masa (corn flour with hydrated lime)
- 1 ½ cups water
- Mix masa and water together and form into a large ball.
- Divide large ball into 16 small balls.
- Place ball between two sheets of parchment paper. Press with tortilla press or use a rolling pin to roll out. Each tortilla should be approximately 5+”.
- Heat skillet to medium high (cast iron is ideal). Cook tortillas for 30 seconds and flip over. Cook another 30 seconds.
- Remove from skillet, place on tray and cover with a dish towel to keep tortillas soft.