June 8, 2015 by Johanna Burani
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
Carl Sandburg (1878 – 1967)
The fog of San Francisco is a distinctive characteristic of that beautiful city. It can make the sun, the Golden Gate Bridge and tall buildings and trees disappear before your eyes! This famous fog also carries colonies of a local bacterium called Lactobacillus San Francisco. It is the secret ingredient of another well-known feature of San Francisco: its sourdough bread.
The basic ingredients of any bread are flour, water and yeast. The yeast, when hydrated, feed on the starch in the flour, increasing them in size and number (budding). As this process continues, the flour mixture ferments, producing what we call a “dough.” We shape it, bake it and then eat it. Most of us love the taste of this final product, bread.
But when bacteria enter the usual mix, magic happens. They produce lactic acid during fermentation and give the resulting dough a tangy or “sour” taste when baked. This is what the Boudin family discovered quite by accident when they left Paris and set up a bakery to serve both locals and gold-rush prospectors in San Francisco in 1849. They thought they were preparing their Parisian recipe for baguettes. The San Francisco fog, however, heavy with wild Lactobacilli San Francisco, unwittingly changed their recipe forever. Their new and unique sourdough bread became an instant hit.
Today sourdough bread is enjoyed throughout America and beyond. Its high acidity (pH 4.0 – 4.5) makes it a good low glycemic carbohydrate choice (GI 48 – 57). It moves slowly out of the stomach and into the small intestine gradually releasing glucose into the bloodstream. This is good news for blood glucose control, satiety, weight management and energy endurance.
You can use sourdough bread as you would any other type of bread. I like grilling thin slices of it rubbed with raw garlic and then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil
May 7, 2015 by Johanna Burani
Vinegar is 95% water, contains no protein, fat, vitamins, or hardly any other nutrient (it only “weighs in” at 2 calories/tablespoon). Yet the ancient Babylonians, Greeks and Romans praised it for its medicinal virtues, as do many of today’s cultures. Vinegar has been used to treat wounds, burns, insect bites, poison ivy, headaches and chronic fatigue. It is also believed to promote digestion and relieve stomachaches. keep reading »
March 12, 2015 by Johanna Burani
We can call it “cellulose, pectin, lignin, roughage,” or we can just say “lentils, berries, nuts, beans, artichoke, carrots.” What we’re talking about is dietary fiber. We all know fiber is good for us for regularity and cardiac and glycemic health and certainly for satiety and weight loss.
A word about the beneficial effects of fiber on weight loss. Literally, one word: “easy.”
A 2012 study conducted at the University of Massachuettes School of Medicine confirmed findings from other studies, namely, that focussing on just one dietary change: eating sufficient fiber (30 grams) every day, promotes gradual weight loss.
How nice that, for a change, we can add food to our diet when trying to lose weight rather than take it away!
What does 30 grams of fiber look like on a plate? Well, it would be on 3 plates (for breakfast, lunch and dinner) and some quick-grab snacks too. Take a look:
Breakfast: a cup of old fashioned oats with a cup of strawberries (7 grams)
Lunch: ham and cheese on 2 slices of rye, and an apple (8 grams)
Snack: 1 oz. almonds (4 grams)
Dinner: a cup of beef barley soup, a stuffed artichoke (12 grams)
Snack: 6 oz. fat-free Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds (1 gram)
There are 32 grams of fiber right there! See how easy it is? Now, if this seems like too much fiber too quickly for your system, start with less high-fiber foods and work your way up.
Here’s a link to the Mayo Clinic’s list of fiber-rich foods to you get started.
March 2, 2015 by Johanna Burani
1 in 11 Americans has it.
1 in 4 adults, who has it, doesn’t know it.
1 in 3 adults is at risk for developing it.
“It” is diabetes.
And it must be stopped.
The American Diabetes Association’s latest conference on diabetes was held this past weekend in New York City and I was there. I listened to the updated Standards of Care for classifying, diagnosing, preventing and treating prediabetes and diabetes, best practices and emerging treatment options, new insights into the development of diabetes from human microbiome studies, and much, much more.
There was also animated discussion about lifestyle therapies: how to achieve better and consistent eating habits, how to encourage physical activity, how to address the distress of living with a chronic disease.
If you, dear reader, are or could be a statistic listed above, my question to you today is not “What should you change to improve your health?” You already know that answer. I’m asking you instead, “How are you going to start improving your health?”
How will you stop diabetes – today?
February 16, 2015 by Johanna Burani
Some culinary experts and nutrition watchers are predicting a “coming out” of sorts in 2015 for the underrated cauliflower. This cruciferous cousin to broccoli has been in the hands of cooks since the 4th century B.C. So why has it been given the nod now? Perhaps because of its versatility: it can be baked, boiled, mashed, fried, or pureed, or perhaps because of its friendliness to other flavors. Also, it’s nutrient-dense (Vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, Vitamin B6, copper) while carrying few calories of its own.
I was talking about food with my good Italian friend, Franca, over a coffee in her Parisian apartment a few weeks ago. We shared our cauliflower recipes. keep reading »
December 21, 2014 by Johanna Burani
The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve in my Sicilian family living in Brooklyn, New York in the 1950’s were spent planning, shopping and then preparing the traditional foods for our Christmas holiday meals. The old recipes came out, the adult women were given their assignments and, like magic, carefully executed and wonderfully delicious holiday foods were shared by the 3 generations of our extended family (17 members or more).
La Vigilia, Christmas Eve, opened the festivities. Our individual families assembled at our grandparents’ home after dinner. The adults went to Midnight Mass and the children were put to bed to await Santa. At 1:30 AM, when everyone was back from church and the children (who never closed their eyes) were “awakened,” an enormous platter of cold seafood salad was served with Italian bread, dried fruits and nuts, and fried honeyballs, and Grandpa’s homemade wine.
This was the real deal from our grandparents’ hometown of Sciacca. For the adults, it was sharing traditional foods, for the kids it was observing what family looks and feels like. For everyone it was being connected and wanting to stay that way.
My wish for you, my followers, and for all people, is that you will go to that place in your heart that breeds comfort and acceptance, and that you will share these treasures with others.