To find grits, look near the pancake mix; it should be sitting nearby. Originating from our Native American people, grits are one of the most iconic national foods of all time — and for a good reason. A testament to their popularity is that they’re served on just about every table each morning. In short, they provide a healthy and low-cost filling meal, an all-around win.
Grits have a heap of health benefits and are low in any harmful ingredients, such as fats and sugars. For this reason, it’s one of the best options to eat as a side for breakfast today. They’re also straightforward to cook and offer extreme versatility.
We’ve also included a few substitutes to choose from, just in case you’re allergic or perhaps you’re looking to switch up your daily routine. There aren’t many other classic breakfast foods like grits, which is why we’ve decided to dedicate an entire article to them!
Amazing Benefits of Grits
They’re Full of Protein
Grits are not only filling to the stomach but also pack a tremendous amount of protein per gram. It’s certainly not going to replace your high protein foods, such as chicken, beef, or beans, but it’s a great addition nonetheless. Protein is imperative for the growth of muscles and cognitive function. Grits are great for this purpose, especially if you’re on a vegetarian diet!
The American diet isn’t the most favorable for getting our suggested intake of folate. Luckily, grits are very rich in folate, making them an excellent source. Folate is critical to have in our diet to prevent illnesses such as cancer. Folate also helps boost our immune system by producing DNA and RNA, which controls proper cell function.
Rich in Leucine
Leucine is often a very underlooked aspect of maintaining good health, but it’s just as essential as any other element. Grits contain up to 500mg of leucine, which means it’s one of the best sources out there. Leucine also helps our body use protein much more efficiently.
Tasty Substitutes For Grits
Polenta is very similar to grits; it’s just processed a little differently. After all, polenta is made from corn, just like grits. Polenta retains much of the corny taste that grits do but is a little sweeter. It’s also very healthy for you and contains a few more nutrients than grits themselves.
Quinoa is a grain, as are grits. Quinoa also retains a similar consistency to grits while packing much more flavor. A cool fact about Quinoa is that it’s gluten-free! It’s very high in fiber and contains many dietary minerals quintessential for a proper diet. They can be used in the same way that grits can be used. Yet, it makes for a great side with stews and other dishes.
Grits do not have many substitutes, so we have to be creative! Hominy is dried corn that runs through a mineral lime bath. The corn goes through a procedure named “nixtamalization,” which softens them to the same consistency as grits. While hominy can be used as a standalone alternative, it’s best used as a side for savory foods, such as chicken tortillas!
Great Ways To Use Grits
These are a staple in the US that make for a delicious and filling breakfast. Most recipes call for sharp cheddar cheese, which adds to the overall richness. Some even dress it up by adding meat, like ham, or even seafood, such as shrimp.
Grillades and Grits
New Orleans’s spicy culture is a take on grits that can be eaten either at breakfast or before lunch, aka brunch. Though the exact details vary from recipe to recipe, they involve beef, gravy, and a delicious assortment of vegetables, like bell peppers.
Casserole and Soufflé
As we saw above, grits can be used for much more than just breakfast food. Many people have combined their favorite ingredients using grits as a base to craft an entire casserole or soufflé - so take the recipe you like the best and try it out!
Grits have been an American breakfast food for centuries. They provide a quick and simple way to put together breakfast before heading out to work, school, or play. It’s an excellent, healthy substitute for pancakes, sausages, and more. However, it still works as a side for them too.
The health benefits alone make this food worthy of either breakfast or brunch, yet provide many more benefits. While not identical, we’ve also included a few substitutes that can serve as an alternative if you’re in a pinch. Plus, they can be used in casseroles and more elaborate dishes, which is a huge advantage!