Nosh by Naz: ‘C’ for Corn

Conscious Eating: By Nazia Hussain

Recipe of the Month: Chocolate Shortbread

The Old English word “corn” comes from the Germanic language and is related to the Latin word, “granum,” meaning grain. In Great Britain, the word “maize” is used, which has been derived from the Arawak word “marise” which became “maysi” and “mahiz” in the West Indian Carib languages. It is a member of the grass (Gramineae) family and was discovered by Christopher Columbus whilst on his search for a route to India, and has subsequently become an important part of our modern-day diet.

As a plant, it has to be sown directly into the ground usually in April or May as it cannot tolerate frost. It requires frequent watering and loves having its feet in water and its head in the sun. Corn has to be planted in deep, well-drained, humus rich soil. Generally, the height of a corn plant will be about 1.2 metres although it has the capacity to grow to 2 metres.

Sowing is usually carried out at 2 week intervals. In order to obtain excellent corn, it is necessary to wait about 105 days before harvesting. This normally takes place at the end of July until August for corn to be used as food. However, for corn to be used for forage and decoration, it is harvested in October or November. What is unusual about the corn plant is that both male and female entities can be found in the same plant. The male flower grows at the top and the female flower nestles in the axils of the leaves. Pollen is deposited on the pistils and this enables the corn to bear fruit.

Nutrition Information (per 100g), Corn contains the following nutritional values:

Calories: 350

Protein: 9 g

Carbohydrates: 70 g

Fat: 4 g

Corn is rich in vitamins A, B, C and PP, fibre and minerals, especially magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

One bushel of corn provides:
31.5lbs of starch or 33 lbs of sweetener or 2.5 gallons of fuel ethanol and 13.5 lbs of gluten feed (20% protein) or 2.6 lbs of gluten meal (60% protein) and 1.5lbs of corn oil.

Some Interesting Facts:
Christopher Columbus called Corn ‘Indian Wheat’ as he believed that he had reached India. In certain parts of French speaking Canada, it is still referred to as “blé d’Inde.” Corn was sometimes called “Spanish wheat” in Atlantic Europe, as it was the Spanish who brought corn back from their exploration of the Americas and began cultivating it in Spain. When the Turkomans reigned Persia, corn was often known as “Turkish wheat.” Corn has been cultivated for over three thousand years and was sometimes used as food, sometimes as currency and became part of daily life:

  • the silk that came from the ears was smoked to create a kind of fuel
  • the kernels were threaded together to make necklaces and other jewellery
  • the germ was turned into oil or cooking fat
  • leaves were used to stuff mattresses and to make dolls, moccasins and ritual masks;
  • The Iroquois believed that eternal hunting grounds awaited them after death and so they buried their dead with jars of corn and wild rice to sustain them during their long voyage.
  • Last but not least, the kernels can be made into alcohol. Native Americans were the first to discover the effects of fermented corn mash, and the Americans later simply refined the original recipe to create a corn spirit which they called bourbon.

Recipe of the Month: Chocolate Shortbread


  • 1/2 cup corn flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • Crushed corn flakes


  • Sift corn flour, cocoa powder, sugar and rice flour together.
  • Add butter. Mix with hands until soft dough forms.
  • Refrigerate one hour. Add crushed corn flakes to taste.
  • Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1-1/4 inches apart on greased cookie sheet; flatten with lightly floured fork.
  • Bake the shortbread at 300f/140c degrees for 20-25 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

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