There’s a misconception that grains are bad; grains makes us gain weight, grains cause inflammation, eating grains is like eating sugar. Grains are an essential in our home, and ingredient I always stock in my pantry and try to incorporate it into every single meal. It’s important to educate ourselves on the goodness of whole grains, the health benefits and why we need them in our everyday diets.
#CropUp2019 at Woodlot Restaurant, Toronto, ON.
I had the pleasure of joining Grain Farmers of Ontario at their Good in Every Grain Crop Up restaurant events this year where they partnered with local Ontario restaurants to create a one-of-a-kind dining experience. The chefs at Woodlot in Toronto and the Drake in Prince Edward County created delicious meals, like barley salad, with a focus on grains like oats, rice, soybeans and my new favourite grain, barley!
#CropUp2019 at the Drake Devonshire, Prince Edward County, ON.
It was so nice to hear from local farmers and speak to them about their passions for farming having been passed down from generation to generation and the amount of work that goes into growing grains. Grain Farmers of Ontario represents over 28,000 growers of commercial corn, oats, soybeans, barley and wheat. Ontario farmers grow the highest quality and healthiest grains in the world while using sustainable practices to grow more crops on less land to meet global demand.
Grains like barley, oats, soybeans and corn are an important part of a balanced diet. They are loaded with protein and essential vitamins and minerals that contribute to lowering cholesterol, promoting a good digestive system and most importantly decreasing your risk of developing heart disease.
The #CropUp2019 dinners were absolutely delicious and honestly, I had no idea grains could be prepared and used in so many different ways. At Woodlot, we enjoyed:
- Whole Grain Sourdough Bread made with barley, oats and wheat.
- Fire Roasted Spring Beet and Barley Salad (where I discovered my new found love for barley) made with barley, oats and soybeans.
- Apricot Glazed Wood-fired Turnips stuffed with toasted oats, dandelions and pistachios.
- Vanilla and Cornflour Chiffon Cake with wild blueberry and Meyer lemon curd.
The menu at the Drake Devonshire was unique and just as delicious, featuring the grains prepared as:
- Wheat Berry Soup with mushrooms, bitter greens and the best Parmesan sourdough toast.
- Braised Pork Shoulder and Roasted Chicken marinated in soy and lemon.
- Sesame-Oat Granola + Beet Salad with blueberries and kale.
- County Squash + Barley Risotto (another new favourite of mine!) with sage and goat’s cheese.
- Roasted Carrots buttered with sourdough breadcrumbs.
- Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake with blueberries, syrup and whisky cream.
I was so inspired by the grain-based menus at both of the #CropUp2019 events that I wanted to recreate a dessert featuring one of my favourite grains, corn! It is worth pointing out, that the corn Grain Farmers of Ontario represent is not sweet corn or popcorn. Ontario is the largest corn producing province in Canada making up 63% of Canada’s corn with over 90% of the grain are used domestically as animal feed, ethanol production and of course, human consumption. Ontario is a top producer of “dent” or field corn, which is used in corn meal, like used in my recipe.
I love a good moist cake with complimentary flavours like coconut, pineapple and corn. Yes, corn! I made this Sweet Cornmeal Cake that’s fluffy, moist and plays off the sweetness of corn. It’s a twist on a traditional carrot cake with coconut, pineapple and pecans but without the carrots. Instead, I added this sweet vegetable and incorporated stone-ground cornmeal for a little texture, what you would expect in cornbread.
These mini cakes are made from one single 9″ square cake and cut into cute individual cakes. Layered with a fluffy, sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting and topped with toasted coconut flakes! This is just one delicious way to incorporate more grains into your diet ;).
To learn more about the benefits of grains and how you can incorporate more whole grains into your diet, visit GoodInEveryGrain.ca.
What are your favourite grains to cook or bake with?
Sweet Cornmeal Cake
Sweet Cornmeal Cake Dry Mix
- 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/3 tsp salt
Sweet Cornmeal Cake Wet Mix
- 1/2 cup buttermilk shaken
- 1/2 cup stoneground cornmeal
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup coconut oil melted
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cup fresh corn about 2 ears
- 1/4 cup crushed pineapple from the can
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 2/3 cup chopped pecans lightly toasted
Cream Cheese Icing
- 3/4 cup butter softened
- 1 (8 oz) pkg creamed cheese softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
To Make The Cake
Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9 inch square pan with parchment paper. Brush with melted butter and coat with flour. In a small bowl, mix together the cornmeal and buttermilk and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high speed, beat the eggs, sugar and maple syrup. Add the coconut oil and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes. Add the soaked cornmeal and beat to combine.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in the flour mixture just until the flour is incorporated. Fold in the pineapple, corn, coconut and pecans.
Transfer the batter into the prepared pan, pushing the batter into the corners and smoothing out the top. Bake for 30-40 minutes until gold brown and when a toothpick is inserted comes out clean.
Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Then removed from the pan and cool completely before icing.
To Make The Icing
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese until light and airy about 2 minutes.
Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and whip until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a piping bag or frost directly onto the cake!
Thank you to Grain Farmers of Ontario for sponsoring this post.