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It’s a wonderful time of year. The birds are singing, flowersare blooming and the sweet corn crop is heading your way.

Crunch, natural sweetness, sunny color, vitamins: fresh sweet corn from Floridahas all these assets, making it a favorite with everyone. And thereare so many good ways to enjoy the ears piled high in supermarketbins. Steamed, boiled, microwaved, roasted — and grilled, ofcourse. Eat your fill, and then think about enjoying this freshbounty in exciting new ways, both on and off the cob. Fresh corn isterrific any time of day — lunch and dinner, sure, but also in themorning and don’t forget snacks.

Start with breakfast or weekend brunch: SweetCorn Pancakes. Tender corn kernels are cut off the cob andscooped into pancake batter, which gets a second hit of good cornflavor from cornmeal. This is definitely a worth-getting-up-forbreakfast, especially when you top the cakes with sweet-spicy syrupmade with maple syrup, apricot preserves and a touch of hot redpepper. These corn-flecked pancakes also make an easy andcomforting supper – and if the kids object to the hot pepper, justleave it out.

Still thinking outside the corn crib, toss uncooked kernels offresh corn with black beans, quinoa and a tasty mustardvinaigrette. If you feel like it, add some baby shrimp. Thisnutrient-packed salad is a full-on main course, perfect forlunch or dinner. Corn is a good source of vitamin C, thiamin andfolic acid and also supplies the antioxidants lutein andzeaxanthin. Not familiar with quinoa? Might be a good time to getacquainted, because it’s considered a super-grain, supplying alleight essential amino acids.

When it’s time for dessert or a snack, fresh corn turns out tobe a surprising but very appealing option. Corn on the Cob”Lollipops,” from the kitchen of Florida chef Michelle Bernstein,are one irresistible treat to try. The ears are cooked untilcrisp-tender, then rolled in butter and spiced brown sugar. A wayto eat your veggies and your dessert at the same time — what couldbe better?

You’re probably thinking about where your food comes from, sohere are the facts: The delicious corn in season now is grown byfarmers in Florida, the leading producers of fresh sweet corn. Topreserve freshness, the ears are chilled immediately after harvest,packed within 24 hours and rushed to markets. Once you take thecorn home, be sure to refrigerate it. You can count on thistraditionally bred corn to stay fresh and sweet for up to aweek.

For more ideas on serving sweet fresh corn in unexpected ways,visit the newly relaunched www.sweetfreshcorn.com. And try thisgreat recipe:

Corn on the cob lollipops

Ingredients:

4 ears sweet fresh corn each cut in thirds

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

12 lollipop sticks

Directions:

With the tip of a knife, poke a hole in one end of each piece ofcorn. In boiling salted water, cook corn for two minutes.Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine brown sugar, salt, red pepper,cinnamon and ginger. Pour melted butter into a pie plate. Draincorn well. Roll each piece in butter; insert a stick into one end;sprinkle with brown sugar mixture.

Courtesy of ARAcontent