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Magnificent Magnesium – What Would the Body Do Without It?

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November 19, 2014 by Johanna Burani

Magnesium is the 8th most abundant element in the earth’s crust, accounting for 13% of our planet’s mass. It’s been used in aerospace construction since wpid2046-Fish.jpgWorld War I, is present in today’s cars, beverage cans, golf clubs, fishing reels and even firework sparklers. Who knew?

Magnesium is also found in the human body. It helps all living cells communicate with each other enhancing nerve cell function, assisting in the conversion of glucose into cell energy and promoting glucose storage in the liver and muscles if it’s not needed right away. It participates in the biochemical reactions of more than 300 enzymes involved in ceaseless metabolic activities, including insulin secretion and cellular insulin sensitivity. Who knew? keep reading »


Grilled Shrimp over Rucola Salad

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November 5, 2014 by Johanna Burani

Grilled Shrimp over Rucola Salad

This dish is short on work but long on flavor.  Simple, fresh, unadulterated whole foods, marinated, grilled, then placed on a bed of fresh greens.  Add a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio and some sourdough crostini and you have a perfect meal – Italian style!

keep reading »


A Twist on Food Addiction

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September 25, 2014 by Johanna Burani

Some people wake up craving a warm breakfast croissant, oozing with butter and a rich cream filling.  Others “can’t live” without potato chips, cheeseburgers and fries.Male doctor examines X-ray picture of a human brain

These people feel “addicted” to these foods.  No surprise: sugar, salt and fat are food’s most effective flavor enhancers and the brain’s reward center pays close and affectionate attention to them when they enter the body.  This can lead to deep-rooted neurological pathways for food addictions.

Is Brain Change Possible? keep reading »


Mediterranean Overlap: from Sicily to Greece

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September 10, 2014 by Johanna Burani

I know.  I haven’t been around lately.  Last summer I disappeared for a while as I was recovering from shoulder surgery.  This summer I spent six glorious weeks in Europe, staying in familiar places, like our home in Friuli (northeastern Italy) and the lake region in southwestern Austria, but also in new areas, like the Cyclades Islands and the Peloponnese region in southern Greece.  Friuli and southern Austria never disappoint me, but the highlight of this summer’s travels was my introduction to Greece, its wonderful people, beautiful landscapes and scrumptious cuisine.wpid2022-Greece.jpg
My husband, Sergio, and I enjoyed visiting Mykonos, Paros, Santorini and other Cyclades Islands.  We also had the extraordinary good fortune of being the houseguests of our relatives-in-law, Maria and Antonios Bistolaridis.  Although they left their Peloponnese villages nearly 40 years ago to build a new life in Michigan, their love for their homeland has never even remotely left their hearts.  They return every summer to their condominium in Paralio Astros.  They were magnificent tour guides!  We visited Meteora, Olympia, Sparta, Monemvasia, some beach towns and their native villages, Skortsinou and Vouno, where their families still live. keep reading »


“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?


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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