Susan McIntosh knows her grits

Published 3:32 pm Monday, April 12, 2010

Susan McEwen McIntosh is a nutritionist, food editor, chef and author. Lately, she has been busy promoting her latest book, “Glorious Grits: America’s Favorite Comfort Food,” which was published in October 2009 by Oxmoor House Inc.

Grits are ground from corn, and many years back the Indians showed the settlers how to grind it to enjoy all year long.

Grits, polenta and corn meal are all ground from corn. The most coarsely ground is grits, the more finely ground grits become polenta, and then the finest is corn meal.

McIntosh explains how it is all very nutritious because it is all whole grains, but will take a good 20-25 minutes to cook. Polenta is even served as dessert.

This “humble food” as she describes it, is traditionally seen at the southern breakfast table. Her book describes how simple grits are now served at some of the finest restaurants in the country.

John Norman, an executive chef from Florida, introduced the shrimp succotash, which is in her book. McIntosh is great at showing how versatile grits can be with more than 100 recipes shared in the book. Although grits make the ultimate comfort food, they can also be created into fancy appetizers, entrées and even desserts.

She remembers the first time she had grits she was not impressed, remembering them as very bland. She has now perfected this grain, though, as she has tested hundreds of recipes in the making of her book.

One-sixth of her recipes have come from notable chefs in the South and beyond, many of whom buy the grits from her brother. The others were created by McIntosh herself. Leigh, her daughter, also created a few.

A McIntosh family favorite is the shrimp and grits recipe.

“Grits add texture making many recipes tasty,” she describes, and she even includes a pecan pie with grits recipe.

Her book also puts a new spin on grits showing how to use the way they mold after they cool to your advantage. You will even find ways to use grits on the grill in her book, which can help the least knowledgeable person become an expert on grits.

Her inspiration came from Frank McEwen, her brother, who owns a gristmill. She now shares everything she knows about the grain in her book that you can find in many stores, including her brother’s gristmill.

McIntosh also wrote the Cooking Light Cookbook, which was published in 1984. McIntosh has also enjoyed writing articles for Southern Living magazine and Cooking Light magazine. She has also edited a total of 13 Weight Watchers books, along with many other cookbooks that promote health.

She has been a registered dietitian for more than 30 years now, and she has even worked for the Southern Living magazine as the company’s first registered dietitian. McIntosh has also appeared on CBS and Good Day Atlanta.

Although she is busy, don’t be surprised if you find this local celebrity taking a stroll in her home town or running to the store to pick up a last minute ingredient… grits.

Kennedy Tolbert is the new community columnist for Wilsonville. She can be reached at