Being trapped in a small apartment all day long does not make one feel particularly healthy. Accordingly, I've resorted to superfoods to give me the feeling of being healthy and fit even when spending all day on the couch.
A couple of weeks ago, I had gotten some spirulina -- having been previously obsessed with Juice Generation's Spirulina Muffin when it first was a "thing" -- and was trying to figure out a good way to employ it other than in smoothies.
You see, the accidentally-inhaled-salt-water-on-beach-day taste did not mesh well with my favored blueberry-mango morning smoothie, and though I was willing to bake with it, I worried that the high temps in the oven would adversely affect the nutrients in the spirulina*.
Cue the lightbulb moment, and ten minutes later, I was standing over the stovetop, making polenta. Having spent four years in Boston, I knew that sea-brine taste and corn was a match made in heaven, and the spirulina polenta happily delivered.
My favorite ways to eat it have been with braised beef and tri-color tomatoes (as pictured) or with a savory balsamic mushrooms.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and I can honestly confess that I prefer this variation over the classic polenta version. I also sort of like some lumpiness (and dislike intense whisking), but your level of smoothness is totally up to you.
Time: 10 minutes
2 cups of water
2/3 cups of cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp spirulina powder
1.) Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan;
2.) Add the salt, and then gradually whisk in the cornmeal. I like using a strainer to sift the meal, since it helps avoid lumps;
3.) Once all the cornmeal has been added, reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens -- about 10 minutes. Stir often during this time;
4.) Once it has thickened to your liking, take it off the heat and add the butter. Stir until melted;
5.) Last but not least, add in the spirulina. Do not do this if the mixture is steaming hot, as temperatures that are too high might take away from its nutritional benefit (see note below);
For those of you who are wondering how baking with spirulina is bad but mixing it into hot polenta is okay, I'm linking this scientific article. In the paper, researchers studied the effects of heat temperatures on spirulina, and found that it was only minimally affected after spending 10 minutes at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since the spirulina is added as the final step in this recipe, the polenta should be around 140 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Taking this substantially lower temperature into consideration, I believe that the nutritional value will remain mostly unaffected.
In contrast, baking a muffin would subject the spirulina to heat at around 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes -- which the linked study suggested had a significant adversarial effect on its benefits.