Grits Are a Super Source of Plant-Based Iron, Protein, and B Vitamins—Here Are 3 Vegan Recipes To Try Them In (2024)

Of course, it’s virtually impossible to say no when your friends call you up and demand your presence at weekend brunch. However, there are a few things that are guaranteed deal makers vs. breakers when it comes to picking the right spot.

First question: Will there be bottomless cups of cold brew available? Next, and most importantly, do they offer a side of cheesy grits? IMO, it’s about time that the humble side of grits gets its moment in the sun. (Love you forever, sweet potato toast, but you've had your 15 minutes.)

Grits—a delicious grain made from ground and boiled corn, similar to polenta or cornmeal—is the ideal gluten-free, nutrient-packed brunch dish that serves as a great source of several key vitamins and nutrients that will start your day on the right foot. Better yet, they're super easy to make at home... which means you can eat brunch from the comfort of your cozy couch, caffeine in hand, as long as you want this Sunday. Truly, what could be better?

Experts In This Article

What’s the best type of grits?

According to Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, a Miami-based registered dietitian nutritionist and National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, grits offer a bevy of nutritional benefits, but not all types are the same. Ehsani says that there are a few main varieties of grits, such as stone-ground, instant, quick-cooking, and hominy.

Although you may be more familiar with the instant style of grits, Ehsani says that they’re not the most nutrient-dense option. Instead, there’s one style of grits in particular that packs the most health benefits due to its processing method. “The most nutrient-dense option amongst these varieties of grits is stone-ground, because they're made from the whole corn kernel and then milled down into a coarser texture,” she says.

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The main difference between the stone-ground grits and instant or quick-cooking grits is that the latter undergoes a process to remove the germ (the nutrient-rich embryo with healthy fats) and the pericarp (the shell or hull that's filled with nutrients and fiber). By removing these two essential components of a corn kernel’s anatomy, Ehsani explains that you lose two of the most nutrient-dense parts of the plant.

Although stone-ground grits have more nutrients than the instant kind, they might be harder to find at the store and might not always be the best go-to option due to their short shelf life and long cooking time. Instead, you can opt for a more accessible product, aka grits made from hominy corn, otherwise called hominy grits. This form of grits is made from corn kernels soaked in an alkali solution to soften the other shell. Once this tough pericarp layer has softened, it’s rinsed, removed, and ground to make hominy grits, better known as a process called nixtamalization. This version still maintains most of the benefits and is easier and quicker to cook.

Health benefits of grits, according to a registered dietitian

When eaten on their own, grits may seem a tad bland. However, with the addition of a few toppings, they can easily become a soul-warming and naturally gluten-free dish filled with tons of nutrients and flavor. According to Ehsani, cooked grits have about two grams of fiber and four grams of protein per cup.

“Grits also serve as a good source of iron, an important nutrient that helps get oxygen moving throughout your body. They also contain the B vitamin known as folate, another important nutrient needed for blood health. Folate helps make red blood cells, and having sufficient levels of folate can prevent anemia,” Ehsani says. “To best absorb the iron found in grits, I’d recommend consuming grits with a source of vitamin C, as iron is best absorbed when consumed with vitamin C."

You can try sprinkling your bowl of grits with some strawberry slices or have a side of OJ to add a boost of vitamin C. "You can also top your grits with an egg, tomatoes, or some spinach to boost the iron content even more," Ehsani says.

3 super flavorful vegan grits recipes for your weekend brunch

Grits Are a Super Source of Plant-Based Iron, Protein, and B Vitamins—Here Are 3 Vegan Recipes To Try Them In (2)

1. Vegan Breakfast Bowl

Who doesn’t love a healthy and easy breakfast bowl filled with tons of nutrient-packed veggies and a big ol’ serving of grits? This vegan breakfast bowl recipe by A Pinch of Healthy has it all. It’s made with mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and heart-healthy avocados. Plus, it’s packed with tons of flavor thanks to the nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and veggie broth.

Get the recipe: Breakfast Bowl Recipe

Grits Are a Super Source of Plant-Based Iron, Protein, and B Vitamins—Here Are 3 Vegan Recipes To Try Them In (3)

2. Vegan Cheese Grits

This three-step vegan cheese grits recipe by Nora Cooks takes only five minutes to prep and transforms into thick, creamy perfection in just 20 minutes. With the help of a little vegan butter and loads of delicious shredded vegan cheddar cheese, you’ll have the most luscious grits that are golden like the sun and smooth as velvet. P.S. For an added anti-inflammatory kick, sprinkle in some turmeric for an even more beautiful color and loads more benefits.

Get the recipe: Vegan Cheese Grits

Grits Are a Super Source of Plant-Based Iron, Protein, and B Vitamins—Here Are 3 Vegan Recipes To Try Them In (4)

3. Vegan Grits and Greens

This vegan grits and greens recipe by From The Comfort Of My Bowl stars two Southern classics in one hearty and comforting dish. It features vegan-friendly collard greens made with delicious ingredients like onion, garlic, and Cajun seasoning. And, of course, the dish isn’t complete without creamy, dreamy grits.

Get the recipe: Vegan Grits and Greens

What do you say... corn for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Tags: Food and Nutrition, Healthy Breakfast Recipes, Healthy Cooking, Healthy Meal Ideas

Grits Are a Super Source of Plant-Based Iron, Protein, and B Vitamins—Here Are 3 Vegan Recipes To Try Them In (2024)


Are grits OK on plant based diet? ›

Grits are super versatile, vegan, and there are so many unique ways you can use them. You can eat them on their own, make polenta cakes, polenta chips, casseroles, and I've seen people use them to make mini pancakes that act like tacos!

What are vegan grits made of? ›

In and of themselves, grits are totally vegan. They're made of 100% ground corn. However, it's what gets added to them that usually makes them not vegan. Grits are often made with cow's milk or cream, dairy cheese, and dairy butter.

What are grits made from? ›

Grits are made from ground corn, typically from less sweet, starchy varieties often referred to as dent corn. Grits can be made from either yellow or white corn and are often labeled accordingly.

What can I eat grits with? ›

Sweet: Butter, cinnamon, raisins, syrup, brown sugar, peanut butter, jam, or berries. Savory: Cheese, fried eggs, bacon (cooked and chopped), caramelized onion, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, scallions, or herbs.

Which is healthier grits or oatmeal? ›

Oatmeal has more fiber and protein, grits have more iron and B vitamins. However, oatmeal has a lower glycemic index. So for blood sugar control, oatmeal could be a better option. But when balanced right, both oatmeal and grits can fit into a healthy diet.

Can grits be healthy? ›

Grits are not only simple to prepare but also packed with essential nutrients like iron and B vitamins, making them a versatile addition to any meal. If you're wondering if grits are healthy, the short answer: is they are.

What is healthier than grits? ›

In general, oatmeal has more protein and fiber than similarly processed grits. For example, a 1/4 cup serving of steel-cut oats (the kind that takes 30 minutes to cook) has 4 grams of fiber, while a similar serving of stone-ground grits has 3 grams.

Is grits good for digestion? ›

Grits are a good source of complex carbohydrates, providing energy to your body. They are also a good source of fiber, which can help to regulate digestion and promote a healthy gut. Grits are low in fat and cholesterol, making them heart-healthy food choices.

What ethnicity eats grits? ›

Grits can be traced back to pre-colonialism times when Native Americans first shared meals of hominy grits with European settlers. Centuries later and grits have evolved into a fundamental food associated with the South.

Are grits healthier than rice? ›

Grits contain more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than rice which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, anemia, and some cancers. They are also high in multiple B-complex vitamins including folate, niacin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and thiamine.

How do Southerners eat grits? ›

Serving Southern Grits

We always add cheese to our grits — either Parmesan or sharp cheddar. But you can certainly skip the cheese altogether; some people prefer theirs without. We often eat these grits as-is for breakfast (or topped with a fried egg or crumbled sausage).

Is it OK to eat grits every day? ›

Quick, regular, and instant grits have fewer nutrients than the stone-ground variety. Additionally, they're typically paired with high-calorie ingredients, which may lead to weight gain if eaten too frequently.

Can you eat grits and eggs? ›

We love eggs with instant grits!

I just fry a sunnyside egg and put it on top. Does not get better than that.

What makes grits taste better? ›

Grits are often cooked in either milk or water; we prefer a combination of the two for silky grits that aren't too heavy. For additional flavor, substitute water with chicken or vegetable stock. Grits require a 1:4 cup ratio of grain to liquid.

What grains can you eat on a plant-based diet? ›

Whole grains: brown rice, rolled oats, farro, quinoa, brown rice pasta, barley, etc. Healthy fats: avocados, olive oil, unsweetened coconut, etc. Legumes: peas, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, black beans, etc.

What cereal can you eat on plant-based diet? ›

There are many cereals that make great vegan friendly choices, without compromising on all that delicious taste.
  • Shredded Wheat. ...
  • Shredded Wheat Bitesize. ...
  • Shredded Wheat Red Berries & Vanilla. ...
  • Shreddies Original. ...
  • Frosted Shreddies. ...
  • Shreddies Coco. ...
  • GoFree Rice Pops. ...
  • GoFree Corn Flakes.

Are grits a low Fodmap food? ›

Starch is not a FODMAP. So corn tortillas, corn pasta, grits, polenta, tamales, pupusas, arepas and other foods made from ground corn are OK to eat during the elimination phase of the diet as long as other high FODMAP ingredients have not been added.


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