1 May 2006

Low GI Food of the Month

Dining Downunder™ Chef Vic Cherikoff Talks about Wattleseeds
‘In September 1984, I was roasting the seeds from four or five wattle (acacia) species for the University of Sydney’s Human Nutrition Unit, where I was researching the nutritional value of the traditional foods eaten by Australia’s Aboriginal people. Women from various communities in Central Australia sent me the raw seeds and I prepared them for eating as traditionally as possible of course. And then (untraditionally) the phone rang …

Vic Cherikoff

Australia’s Aboriginal people were hunters and gatherers and the women spent much of the day (in a very relaxed manner) foraging for fruits, nuts, seeds, and insects and hunting the smaller animals. We now know that this traditional bush food diet contained all the nutrients for good health and are learning more about the impressive nutrient density of many of them. When it came to the edible species of acacia, the women usually collected fully ripe, dry seeds in coolamons or bark dishes. They added hot coals to the dish to ‘parch’ the seeds and make them easier to mill into a coarse meal, which they baked into seed cakes. For our research at the university, we also made a ‘bread’ with toasted and milled seeds that would be as similar as possible to their seed cakes. It was not only very nutritious – it had a low GI (GI 11.)


What does wattleseed ‘bread’ taste like? It depends on the species of acacia used. Over the years, I have tried around 14 different wattleseed cakes. Some were very oily with a fragrant flavour almost like a spiced, gluten-free bread; some were more like a plain damper or unleavened bread made from barley; and others came closer to buckwheat, quinoa and other grain breads.

… But, back to the seeds roasting in my pot in Sydney. By the time of got off the phone, they looked very roasted indeed. I let them cool, popped them into an electric coffee bean grinder and gave them a spin to see how they ground up. Well! The aroma! Coffee, chocolate, hazelnut, toasty, roasted flavour which was just superb. I ground the over-roasted seeds up more and then tried the dark brown, coffee-like grounds in my stove-top cappuccino machine. As the rich extract poured through, I tried it black and then with milk, which I much preferred and with a topping of frothed milk, the world's first Wattleccino™ was born. It was delicious with the milk bringing out a sweetness in the wattleseed.

How can you use wattleseed?

  • If you make your own bread, try a substituting some of the wheat flour with 5% besan or chick pea flour along with 3% wattleseed.
  • Use wattleseed as a crusting or coating mixed with polenta, crushed macadamia nuts or cracked buckwheat over any meat or poultry.
  • Add wattleseeds to casseroles, lentil spreads, meatloaf for a nutty, roasted flavour.
  • Try a baked sweet potato (kumara), mushroom and wattleseed risotto or pilaf
  • Replace some of the flour (about 3%) with wattleseed when baking – muffins, banana bread, pancakes and other appropriate baked items.
  • Use wattleseed extract in frappes, smoothies and juices.
  • Substitute coffee with wattleseed (or use half and half) in a Wattleccino™ or Wattlatté™ .
  • Boil wattleseed in water and store the mixture in the refrigerator, adding a dash of the liquid and some of the grounds to muesli, porridge and breakfast cereals.
Check out Vic’s website (www.cherikoff.net) for more ideas for using wattleseed and wattleseed extract in your cooking.

When can you buy wattleseed?
Wattleseed and wattleseed extract are available in specialty stores such as the Essential Ingredient in Australia, Surfas Restaurant Supply in LA in the US and from ISPC International in Europe or easiest of all, get some online from Vic’s website at www.cherikoff.net as it gets shipped globally.

www.glycemicindex.com: New Values Posted
Mountain bread (oat) GI 76
Kipfler potato (boiled) GI 91


Anonymous said...

I don't usually believe that there is much point to negative comments but I'm disappointed with this - as your article states wattleseed is available in SPECIALTY stores. Last month it was WILD blueberries. Yeh, right. What about budget conscious readily available ingredients for real working people!

Anonymous said...

Sorry that you are disappointed with the wattleseed story. We try to offer plenty of variety and thought that it was an interesting story because a traditional food eaten by Australia's indigenous people had such a low GI. Wattleseed is also available online. But we take your point about everyday foods for the budget conscious and will make sure we feature at least one in this category every month.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the Waddleseed story. It is important to try new foods to very the diet. I also like that you included several sources for those of us who are not afraid to order an item.

Anonymous said...

I also thought it was very interesting, and was happy yo see an Auistralian story.

But I agree with the idea of having a couple of feature foods: one easily obtainable, and one interesting specialty item.


Anonymous said...

I would like to know how wattleseeds are identified and collected. All varieties of acacia trees do not have edible seeds. Here in North America,for example,The seeds of the black locust tree(an acacia) would make you quite ill and if the quantity consumed were large enough could cause death. The flowers,however, are edible. Flowers from the related honey locust were once collected by pioneers and made into fritters.