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“Whole Grain” – A Case of Identity Theft, Identity Confusion, or the Real Deal?

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July 15, 2014 by Johanna Burani

Courtesy of Whole Grains Council

Courtesy of Whole Grains Council

We’re all trying (aren’t we?) to eat more whole grains.  The USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage us to hop on the whole grain bandwagon.  Recipes online, in magazines and cookbooks, and on cooking shows with famous chefs abound with whole grain options.  Even our bodies give us the thumbs up when we eat whole grains.

But stop a minute and ask yourself if you really are eating grains that are truly whole.  First off, the grain must contain all three of its structural parts: the bran (outer) layer, the endosperm (starchy) layer and the germ (seed).  It also should be minimally processed to minimize natural nutrient losses and disruption of the synergy within the layers.

A whole grain will look on your plate pretty much as it does in nature – minus the field debris and inedible outermost shell (the husk or hull).  Take oats for instance.  The steel cut version is the entire grain with just the husk removed.  That same whole grain with the husk intact is called “groats” and that’s what horses eat!

Here are some examples of whole grains: pearl barley, steel cut or traditional rolled oats, corn, whole grain brown rice and wild rice (not really a grain), wheat berries, cracked wheat and bulgur, quinoa, buckwheat, rye and triticale.

You can find out the history, processing methods and interesting facts about these and other whole grains at www.wholegrainscouncil.org.

And, since these grains show up favorably on the lower end of the glycemic index, you can also learn more about them at www.glycemicindex.com.


Sourdough Bread: Delicious, Versatile and Low GI

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June 20, 2014 by Johanna Burani

photo35_SnapseedI recently visited the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York to attend an artisan bread-making class (spoiler: there was a lot of white flour in that teaching kitchen!). My main goal for this experience was to learn bread-making techniques and the food science behind them from the professionals, in this case, Chef Juergen Temme, CMB. To my delight, I reached my goal – and then some. Chef described the ingredients and procedures for five different types of dough, including sourdough, the one low GI white bread out there. I was “all ears.”

The GI experts explain that acidic foods empty more slowly from the stomach, resulting in a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream. I asked Chef what were the pH values (degree of acidity; the lower the number, the more acidic) of the breads we were baking that day. All of them were made from white flour and all had a pH between 5.0 and 6.5, except for the sourdough bread: its pH was 3.6!

This is why sourdough bread is a good bread choice for anyone attempting to control blood sugar, weight, and energy. The fuel it turns into lasts longer, preventing blood sugar spikes and helping to ward off hunger. And did I mention how delicious it tastes straight out of the oven?


Roasted Summer Grape Tomatoes

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June 11, 2014 by Johanna Burani

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If vegetables were ever in a parade, tomatoes would be the marching band, color guard and the festival queen!  This recipe elevates the humble grape tomato to its rightful  position of peerless distinctive taste.  Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this recipe; the burst of flavor these tomatoes leave in your mouth is what sweet dreams are made of.  I’ve divided the recipe into four generous portions – anything less would be a tease.

keep reading »


Welcome-Home Vegetable Soup

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June 5, 2014 by Johanna Burani

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My husband, Sergio, and I have always travelled a lot, many times to far distant places for several weeks at a time.  Decades ago, I developed the habit of making a big pot of vegetable soup as soon as the suitcases were unpacked and I did some local food shopping.  The recipe varies with the time of year, of course, because I only put fresh, organic produce in the pot.  Below is what I just made in our New Jersey home, after returning from a one-month fabulous stay (thanks to our adorable one-year-old grandson, Elia, and his parents) in our Friuli home.

keep reading »


From the Mouths of Babes

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May 28, 2014 by Johanna Burani

In case you haven’t heard, earlier this month the New York State Senate passed a bill declaring yogurt the State’s official snack.  And in case you didn’t know, the proposal originated in a fourth-grade classroom!

I guess it makes sense from an economic perspective.  New York has a very robust dairy industry and has become the nation’s #1 manufacturer of yogurt.

Image courtesy of businessweek.com

Image courtesy of businessweek.com

It surely makes sense from a nutritional standpoint.  Yogurt is made from fresh milk to which have been added active beneficial bacteria (probiotics).  It is a good source of animal protein and contains vitamins and minerals (calcium, B2, B12, potassium, magnesium and possibly vitamin D).

Yogurt comes in all sizes and shapes: with fruit or without, with added sugar or without, with artificial sweeteners or without.  While whatever is or isn’t added in may impact on the nutrient density (nutrients for the calories) of the yogurt, the glycemic index property of yogurt remains the same: LOW.

So those nine year-old school children have shown to all interested adults how to connect the win-win dots.  Yogurt is a low calorie, nutrient dense snack that helps regulate blood glucose levels to provide energy and satiety between meals.


You Mean I Can Eat Pasta!

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March 6, 2014 by Johanna Burani

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No doubt about it: carbs elevate your blood sugar level.  That’s what they’re supposed to do.  The body breaks down the carbohydrate in food into readily-available fuel (glucose) more easily than it does for protein or fat.  How quickly that fuel enters the blood from the gut determines how much and for how long that energy will last. keep reading »


Gushers vs Tricklers


"Gushers" are quickly-digested carbohydrates that cause a rapid rise in blood glucose and fuel appetite.

"Tricklers" are slowly-digested carbohydrates that are gradually released into the bloodstream and sustain satiety. These are the good carbs.


Johanna Burani
MS, RD, CDE
Nutrition Works LLC
Morristown, NJ, USA

Expert in individualized, low-glycemic index (low GI) meal planning.

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