Spirulina and grits are two foods I would have never touched a few years ago. Spirulina was a weird green powder that only those hippy health nuts talked about. Grits scarred me for life as a child by being prepared awfully – and I was convinced I hated the watery white goop with the texture of sand. BUT, I kept seeing my friends post photographs of steaming bowls of grits, creamy and decadent, without a hint of the gloppy grossness I thought I remembered. I tried it again, and I was hooked after one bite. I’ve been thinking of adding a grits recipe to This Vegan Whimsy for a while, and when Nuts.com inspired me to write a post about spirulina, I immediately knew it was meant to be!
I know what you’re thinking: “Grits and spirulina!? Never.” Trust me, it’s not crazy. One bite and you’ll be in love – and enjoying the health benefits of this green superpower! Many spirulina recipes involve smoothies or baking. I generally prefer to chew my food instead of drink it, and it’s been so hot in Florida that I haven’t wanted to turn on the oven at all! Enter: Super Spirulina Grits with Caramelized Onions and Garlic.
Before we get to the recipe, let’s talk about why spirulina is so great! Spirulina (pronounced Spear-roooh-line-uh) is actually a microalgae, and it grows in fresh water. Most commercially sold spirulina is grown in man-made ponds. I like the Nuts.com spirulina because it’s non-GMO and non irradiated. They also sell it at an extremely reasonable price. I know this because I surveyed the spirulina options at Whole Foods and the powdered forms being sold ran anywhere from ten to twenty dollars for a tiny little bottle! This is an ingredient to buy in bulk by the pound, and Nuts.com is a great place to do that.
Here are three fun spirulina facts (taken from Nuts.com):
-Just two tablespoons of spirulina has 16 grams of protein!
-Spirulina has four times the antioxidant concentration of blueberries.
-Two tablespoons provide 40% of the daily recommend value for iron. Iron is especially important for ladies, who tend to have issues with anemia (I have personally in the past).
Now that you’re convinced spirulina is awesome, let’s talk about this recipe. The first secret to the creamiest plant-based grits is Cashew Milk. If you’ve never tried cashew milk, please go buy some before making this recipe. It will not taste the same with almond milk, soy milk, or rice milk. The second secret is to make sure you get old fashioned grits, not the quick-cooking kind. Old fashioned grits only take 15-20 minutes to make, and your taste buds will thank you for spending the few extra moments. Finally, this recipe calls for 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of spirulina per serving. Spirulina has an earthy, smoky flavor, and I find I can barely detect it in this grits recipe. However, if you’ve never had spirulina before, start with 1/4 teaspoon and go up from there.
- 1 cup cashew milk
- 1/4 cup old fashioned grits
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon spirulina powder
- 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion (like Vidalia)
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- Bring cashew milk to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, very slowly stir in the grits and salt.
- Reduce heat immediately to low and cover. Allow the grits to cook and become very creamy, stirring occasionally. They will take between 15 and 20 minutes to cook.
- Once the grits are on low, line a small pan with a thin layer of veggie broth and add onions and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and let the onions sauté and caramelize until the grits are cooked. Add a splash of veggie broth every few minutes if it looks dry.
- When the grits are fully cooked, stir in spirulina powder to taste (you can use more than 1/2 teaspoon if you like!). Top with caramelized onions and garlic. Enjoy!
Nuts.com provided the inspiration for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.