Are Grits Gluten Free? Find Out The Answer By Reading This Article

corn grits

Are grits gluten-free?

The modern-day food is very different from what was eaten by the original inhabitants of ancient civilizations. Did you ever come across some recipes of ancient meals, which was eaten a few hundred years ago? Maybe not.

The food of the natives was always very simple but nutritious. Ideally, they lived off the land. And they also managed well with whatever was available in their surroundings.

There is an interesting fact about the most popular and favorite breakfast (sometimes eaten as meals too) of the southern Americans. It is that it has its roots in the culinary traditions of Natives of Southern America?

Yes, we are talking about the grits. Would you not want to know if it is a healthy meal? Is it advisable for gluten intolerant persons? What are the various brands which sell grit today? Are they gluten-free? How do you make the grits?

All these questions get answered as you read along.

(American) Brands That Offer Gluten-Free Grits

grits meal with shrimp on top

Grits are made from corn, and hence there is no gluten in it. Corns do not carry glutens. Only three grains, wheat, barley, and rye, have gluten in them.

Since grits are made exclusively from corn, there is no gluten in them as such. But when produced commercially, there is always the risk of cross-contamination. In the same manufacturing facility, the processing of grains with gluten is risky. If that has happened, and traces of gluten finds its way into the grit, the grit is not gluten-free. Such a grit, if consumed by a celiac patient, will spell disaster for him.

Hence not all brands claim their grits to be gluten-free. Quacker grit is a point in case. The grit inherently is gluten-free, but the fear of cross-contamination prohibits the manufacturer from labeling it ‘gluten-free.’

Some prominent American brands that have been labeled gluten-free are:

  • Arrowhead Mills

The grit offered by this miller meets the USFDA specification of labeling it as gluten-free. Arrowhead is the division of Hain Celestial.

  • Bob’s Red Mill

Though they come out with various products, please be informed that only Bob’s Corn Grits is labeled gluten-free. Other products that they offer may not be gluten-free. One must carefully choose the product if he is gluten intolerant.

  • Julia’s Pantry

‘The Organic Steel Cut-Yellow Grit’ offered by Julia’s pantry is labeled gluten-free. But the fact remains that the gluten-free and gluten included products are processed in the same production line. Julia’s pantry is very strict and careful to avoid cross-contamination. However, it is better to bear the fact in mind.

  • Medford Farms

They offer gluten-free grits in tubular packings.

  • Palmetto Farms

They offer white, yellow, and mixed stone-ground grits in the gluten-free category.

Caution While Dining Out

It is crucial to exercise the necessary care when eating out. The restaurant may use a ‘gluten-free’ grit to make the dish. But is the gravy also gluten-free? Many commercial kitchens and restaurants use wheat flour as thickening agents in their gravies. Scrutinize the Spices, gravies, condiments, and additives to ensure that the whole dish is gluten-free and not just the grit.

Quite often, mishaps happen because of this oversight, and it is advisable to be alert on this aspect too.

Gluten-Free Tips For Preparing Grits

Getting certified gluten-free grits is the first step in cooking the delicious dish. It requires fundamental culinary skills. However, there are some failsafe methods to cook grit, and some essential tips will help get the best taste out of the grits.

  • First of all, check which type of grit you have got? Is it quick-cooking types, or the normal one. The quick-cooking ones are actually pre-cooked, and you just have to add the specified amount of water to it and microwave. And voila, it is ready!!
  • The normal ones will require conventional cooking methods. For 1 part of grit, take 4 or 5 parts of water.
  • Heat the water in a large saucepan and add the required quantity of salt to it. Adding salt, in the beginning, is advised because once cooked, the grit will not absorb any salt. So let it cook in the salty water.
  • Add the cleaned and washed grits to the boiling water in the saucepan and keep stirring.
  • Ensure that the grit does not stand without stirring for too long. Otherwise, the bottom may burn.
  • In about 25 to 30 minutes, the grits should have cooked well.
  • Check for the thick soupy consistency.
  • Add butter to the fully cooked grit. It is always better to add butter or cream or cheese at the end of the cooking.

The packed grit generally comes with some recipe to cook it, or you may have some recipe book to help you prepare the grit. We share with you one of the traditional and authentic grit recipes that you may try.

Traditional Recipe:

  • water: 2 cups
  • milk: 2 cups
  • stone-ground grits: 1 cup
  • Salt and pepper as per taste
  • heavy cream: ¼ cup
  • butter: 2 tbsp
  • Mix the water and milk together and heat them in a saucepan till it boils.
  • In the meanwhile, clean and wash the grit to remove all its chaff and dust if any.
  • As the milk and water mixture comes to boil, add the girt to it with the salt and pepper and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Remember to keep on stirring it from time to time.
  • Once it thickens to the required consistency, you can take it off.
  • Keep it covered for some time, and then it is ready to be served.

 What Are Grits?

According to Spoon University, grits are traditional dishes of the Native American Muskogee tribes from the southern part of America. Once introduced to the Americans, particularly the southern Americans, have lovingly taken to it. And it has become a traditional food of South American.

In the year 2016, South Carolina went to the extent of declaring grits as their state food. It identifies with the culture and tradition of the southern American states.

With time, the grit came out of its southern American stronghold. Furthermore, it has become the choice for breakfast or meals for lots of Americans.

Traditionally, the white dent corn kernel is sun-dried and then ground into a coarse, gritty structure. The white dent corn variety is high in starch content, and hence the grits on cooking turn out to be of a creamy texture.

The grits in themselves do not have their own flavor or taste, and hence butter, cheese, cream, gravy are added to it. Subsequently, top it with bacon or shrimps.

The traditionally stone-ground grit takes anything between half an hour to one hour to cook on a slow fire. Such cooking retains all the flavor.

grits with corn

Varieties Of Grits According To The Spruce Eats

In one variation of grit called the hominy, the corn is soaked in the alkaline, chemical lime water, and its germ and pericarp removed. The hominy grit cooks creamier than the traditional grit.

Since traditionally cooking the grit is very time consuming, instant cook variety is also available. The grit is pre-cooked, cooled, and dehydrated and packed. Quickly heat this type of grit in a microwave after adding some water. And the grit is ready in no time.

Usually, for 1 part of grit, 4 or 5 parts of water are added and allowed to cook to a sticky consistency like the porridge. Since the grit is bland and creamy, prepare it in any way one pleases. Generally cooked, either creamy or cheesy.

In some variations, instead of water, milk adds for cooking up the grit. Cooking the grit with a mixture of water and milk is more prevalent.

The Benefits

The humble and straightforward grit has lots of nutrition packed into it. This ancient food is beneficial to the body in various ways. It is effortless and practical to cook. And it does not need any exquisite ingredients or any unique process to prepare. Probably that explains its popularity in Southern America.

Nutritional Advantages
  • It is a good source of protein. One cup of regular grit carries about four gms of protein. The protein content in the grit varies with different varieties. Proteins help in the development and maintenance of the muscles. In combination with leucine (an amino acid in the grit), it helps develop the muscles. Protein is also an essential building block of the body and one of the fundamental requirements of the body. However, the grit protein lacks the complete range of amino acids and is not an excellent source of protein.
  • The grits are excellent sources of energy. A cup of grit provides about 40 grams of carbohydrates. A breakfast of grits will charge a person to carry on with his work with all necessary enthusiasm and energy.
  • Unlike most of the modern food and breakfast, the grits are not fattening. It is very low on fat. One gram of fat in about 257gms (one cup) of grit is really very less for anyone to fear to put on weight. The calorie count of one cup of grit is also meager at 182 calories.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the corn grit helps a person to lose weight. The high carbs in the grit keep the stomach full and the body energetic for a long time. Hence, the craving for in-between meals reduces significantly. Additionally, since the carb load is high, one cannot overeat of grit at one time. It also helps maintain the quantity of the food eaten by the person. The overall effect is it helps a person eat less and therefore lose weight.
Additional Advantages
  • Grit helps improve your immune system and fights against anemia. Just about 250 gms of cooked grit has more than 150 milligrams of folate. It is about 25% of the recommended daily intake of folate. The high presence of folate, along with high iron content in the grits, keeps the anemia at bay. The same one cup or about 250 gms of cooked grit supplies about 8% (1.2 gms) of the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake).
  • The stone-ground grits have a high percentage of fiber. That helps to lower the bad cholesterol in the body and keeps the incidence of cardiovascular disorders under control.
  • Grits have the right concentration of vitamins. 18% of the daily requirement of thiamine, 13% RDI of niacin, 12% RDI of riboflavin, and 7% of RDI of vitamin B6 in just one cup of grit.
  • Similarly, it is very high in mineral contents also. It has magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus, amounting to about 4 -5 % of RDI of these minerals. 7 mg of selenium is present in the same cup of grit. Selenium acts as an anti-inflammatory in the body.
  • Regular consumption of grit helps control the degenerative disease of the eyes. The lutein and zeaxanthin are the antioxidants present in the grit, which helps keep the cataract and age-related eye disorders under control.
  • The other antioxidants in grit like caffeic acid, syringic acid, and 4 -OH benzoic acid checks the free radicals in the body and avoid diseases caused by the free radicals.
  • Being gluten-free, it is excellent food for gluten intolerant and celiac patients.

What Is The Difference Between Grits And Cornmeal?

As the Wide Open Eats says, both the grit and cornmeal come from the corn. But despite having a common source, the grit and the cornmeal are quite different.

The white corn is ground coarsely to make grits. The finer grit came on in modern times, as it is faster to cook. Otherwise, grit always was coarse to medium coarse in texture. The famous traditional grit porridge is prepared from grits.

Most of the time, grounded yellow corn makes cornmeal. It is medium-coarse to fine in texture. However, it is not uncommon to find white cornmeal and blue cornmeals too. It is one of the main ingredients of the cornbread, which again is very popular in southern America. Some recipes may use cornmeal to make some deep-fried savories.

In modern times, many manufactures and stores, use the word grit and cornmeal interchangeably, which is not right.

A Word From The Healthy Zoom

The ancient grit is a very humble and simple food with a lot of nutritional benefits. Being gluten-free, it can be a great breakfast or side dish for the gluten-intolerant persons.

Since the basic grit is bland in itself, it lends an excellent opportunity to use one’s culinary skill to make it exciting and savory.

As a matter of fact, this Native Muskogee tribal food is exciting and wholesome. That is probably the reason it has withstood the test of time and culture and is still very popular in the Southern American states and making inroads in Northern America and the world at large.


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