In the South, grits seem to appear on the table at every meal: they may be used for breakfast, as a side dish or the foundation of a main course. Some of the finest restaurants special-order their course ground corn daily; most folks use regular, commercial grits such as those available in the supermarket.

TIP When cooking grits in milk, allow the milk mixture to just barely begin to come to a boil before adding grits: You don't want the milk to scald.

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3 strips center-cut bacon

4 cup water

1 cup quick-cooking grits

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2 ounces low-fat cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions

1. Cook the bacon in a medium saucepan; remove and pour off the fat, leaving just a thin film on the bottom. Carefully add the water to the pot and bring to a boil. Slowly stir in the grits, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 5 to 7 minutes.

2. While the grits cook, crumble the bacon and cut the cream cheese into bits.

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3. Stir in the cream cheese until smooth; add the salt, bacon and scallions. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 201 calories, 6 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 16 mg cholesterol, 441 mg sodium



3 cups lower-sodium chicken broth

1 cup skim milk

1 cup quick-cooking grits

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Pinch ground nutmeg

1. Bring broth and milk to boil in a saucepan; gradually stir in grits. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until thick, about 5 to7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Remove from heat, stir in blue cheese and nutmeg until melted. (For thinner grits, add more milk.) Season to taste with black pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 239 calories, 10 g protein, 37 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 14 mg cholesterol, 746 mg sodium



2 cups skim milk

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup quick-cooking grits

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons honey (plus more to taste)

1. Combine milk, 2 cups water, raisins and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and immediately whisk in grits in a slow, steady stream. Stir in cinnamon.

2. Cook, stirring often, until thick, 5 to 7 minutes. Swirl the honey over the top just before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 252 calories, 8 g protein, 55 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 1 g fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 349 mg sodium