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.
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 World 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 »
November 5, 2014 by Johanna Burani
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!
September 25, 2014 by Johanna Burani
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 »
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.
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 »
July 15, 2014 by Johanna Burani
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.