In the GI News Kitchen

American dietitian and author of Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, Johanna Burani, shares favourite recipes with a low or moderate GI from her Italian kitchen. For more information, check out Johanna's website. The photographs are by Sergio Burani. His food, travel and wine photography website is


Cheese-filled leek cannelloni
This is my friend Vanda’s recipe. She was served this unusual ‘primo piatto’ at a restaurant in the mountains well above her village in northern Italy. She replicated it perfectly (she says) at home and has shared it with me. And now I’m sharing it with you. Buon appetito! Serves 4 (2 pieces each).

4 long cleaned leeks, white parts only
120g/4oz gorgonzola dolce (sweet), at room temperature
120g/4oz part-skim ricotta
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

Cheese-filled leek cannelloni
Cut the leeks in half so you have 8 pieces, each approximately 10cm/4in long. Steam for approximately 25 minutes or until the leeks are very soft but still holding their shape. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Carefully cut through the outer layers and gently open. Do not cut through all the layers. Depending on how thick each leek is, separate the layers and lay them on a flat surface, overlapping 3–4 layers on each other.
Prepare the filling by mixing together the cheeses in a small bowl, using a fork to smooth.
Divide the filling among the prepared leek layers and gently roll to close.
Place the cannelloni, cut side down, in a shallow, oven-proof casserole dish, previously sprayed with vegetable oil. Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the leeks, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs and the grated cheese. Grill/broil 10cm/4in from the grill for 5–6 minutes or until the leeks are golden brown. Serve immediately.

Per serve
Energy: 880kJ/210cals; Protein 11g; Fat 15g (includes 8g saturated fat and 33mg cholesterol); Available carbohydrate 3g; Fibre 1g

Cut back on the food bills and enjoy fresh-tasting, easily prepared, seasonal, satisfying and delicious low or moderate GI meals that don’t compromise on quality and flavour one little bit with this Money Saving Meals recipe from Ian Hemphill's Just Add Spice (with Lyndey Milan and published by Penguin/Lantern). For more recipes check out the Money Saving Meal website.

Baharat beef with olives.
Spice up your holiday fare with this casserole made with inexpensive, slow-cooking cuts such as chuck or gravy beef). The book includes the recipe to make your own spice mix – but we prefer to use Herbies ready-made blend. Baharat, sometimes referred to as Lebanese seven spice, has a beautiful bouquet that conveys all the romantic fragrances of everything that is spice. We used low GI Carisma potatoes, but if they aren’t available, you can reduce the GI by mashing low GI root vegies like parsnip, carrot and butternut pumpkin with the potato. Serves 4–6.

Baharat beef with olives

1 tbsp olive oil
3–4 cloves garlic, chopped
1kg (2lb 4oz) lean beef, cubed
5 tsp baharat spice mix
400g (14oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
½ cup (125ml) dry red wine
12 pitted black olives
Mashed Carisma potatoes (4), to serve

the oven to 120ºC/250ºF (100ºC/210ºF fan-forced.
Heat the oil in a medium, heavy-based flameproof casserole dish over medium–low heat and soften the garlic. Do not brown.
Toss the cubes of meat in the baharat spice mix. Increase the heat to medium, add the beef to the casserole dish and cook briefly until sealed on all sides. Add the tomatoes wine, olives and ½ cup (125ml) water. Season to taste with salt if desired, but keep in mind that the olives are salty so you may not need much. Stir frequently and bring to a gentle simmer, then cover and cook in the oven for 2½–3 hours until the beef is very tender. Serve over a scoop of well-mashed potatoes with a salad on the side.

Just Add Spice (and baharat spice mix) is available from Herbies.

Just Add Spice

Per serve (for 6 serves without the mashed potato)
Energy: 1700kJ/400cals; Protein 38g; Fat 11g (includes 4g saturated fat and 100mg cholesterol); Available carbohydrate 28g; Fibre 3.5g

Honey baked salmon
The salmon is smothered in an aromatic mixture of honey, fresh garlic and ginger, soy sauce, coarse grain mustard, and balsamic vinegar in this fabulously simple and delicious recipe from Azmina Govindji, nutrition consultant for the Ismaili Nutrition Centre. Azmina recommends serving it on a bed of brown rice with a crisp green salad, and for that really special occasion, partnering it up with asparagus tips. Serves 2.

1 heaped tsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1–2 tsp coarse grain mustard
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2cm/3/4in chunks fresh ginger, chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 tsp chopped fresh green chillies (optional)
2 salmon fillets, each about 120g/4oz

Honey baked salmon

Mix together all of the ingredients except the salmon. Marinate the salmon fillets in this mixture and set them aside for half an hour (if you have time).
Place the fillets with the marinade on a lightly greased baking tray and cook in an oven preheated to 200°C (400°F) or gas mark 6 for 10–12 minutes until just cooked.

Azmina Govindji is a Registered Dietitian and TV Nutritionist (as seen on The One Show, The Wright Stuff and This Morning). she is Media Spokesperson for British Dietetic Association and NHS Choices. Find her at

Per serve (without the brown rice and salad)
Energy: 880kJ/232cals; Protein 25g; Fat 13g (includes 2g saturated fat and 33mg cholesterol); Available carbohydrate 3.5g; Fibre negligible

Blood orange compote
This light, not too sweet, slightly acidic and low GI dessert makes the perfect finishing note to a big meal. The Monday Morning Cooking Club team agreed to share it with GI News readers for this special holiday fare edition. The recipe was contributed by Barbara Solomon who has been making it for years for her family and friends having adapted it way back from one she found in Janet Fletcher’s Fresh from the Farmers’ Market. Serves 6–8.

6–8 large blood or navel oranges (or a mixture of both
¾ cup LogiCane or table sugar
1 cup dry white wine
1 cinnamon stick
2–3 cloves
2 thin (5mm) slices peeled fresh ginger, lightly smashed
1 cup water

Blood orange compote

Remove 4 wide strips of peel from 1 orange, making sure there is no pith, and reserve. Cut a thin slice off the top and bottom of each orange. Using a small paring knife, slice off the peel and pith. Cut between the membranes to remove the segments and place in a serving bowl. Alternatively, cut the peeled oranges into 5mm (1/8in) thick slices.
Combine, in a saucepan, the remaining ingredients plus the reserved strips of orange peel. Bring to the boil and simmer on medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, for 10–15 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to 1 ½ cups (375ml). Strain the hot syrup and pour over the fruit, adding the cinnamon stick to the fruit. Leave to cool. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Serve chilled.

The Monday Morning Cooking Club started back in 2006 when 6 Jewish women who live in Sydney came together on a Monday morning to share recipes and talk about food. What started as an idea to raise money for charity (over $230,000 to date), grew into a project to document their community’s somewhat obsessive relationship with food, and became a beautifully photographed (by Alan Benson) book with 100 recipes from 65 ‘contributing cooks’. It’s available from their website HERE.

Per serve (based on 8 servings using 8 oranges)
Energy: 750kJ/180cals; Protein 2g; Fat 0.5g (includes 0.1g saturated fat and 0mg cholesterol); Available carbohydrate 35g; Fibre 4g

Baked fruit medley
This deliciously simple baked fruit medley from Catherine Saxelby and Jennene Plummer’s Zest cookbook (Hardie Grant) makes a fabulous finish to festive fare. When stone fruit is in season, Jennene suggests you ring the changes and top a selection of peaches, nectarines, apricots or plums with flaked almonds and bake for 15–20 minutes. Serves 4–6

¼ cup pure maple syrup
30g/1oz light margarine
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 green apples, quartered (retain skin and core)
3 pears, quartered (retain skin and core)
200g/7oz dried figs or the softer dessert figs
3 stalks rhubarb, trimmed and sliced
low-fat ice cream to serve

Baked fruit medley

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
Combine the maple syrup, margarine, sugar and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, until melted and well combined.

Arrange the apples, pears and figs in a baking dish. Pour in the syrup and toss gently so the fruit is evenly coated.Bake for 15 minutes. Add the rhubarb to the dish, stirring in gently so it is coated with syrup. Bake for a further 10–15 minutes until the fruit is tender. Serve warm with a scoop of low-fat ice cream.
Zest is available from Catherine’s website, Foodwatch.
Per serve (including 1 scoop low fat ice cream)
Energy: 1325kJ/315cals; Protein 3g; Fat 5g (includes 1g saturated fat); Available carbohydrate 63g; Fibre 10g