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 photosbysergio.com.
This December, we bring back an old favourite from Johanna’s kitchen as she hasn’t had time to create something special for us – she is out there on the front line helping survivors of super-storm Sandy in New Jersey.
Flourless chocolate hazelnut cake.
This cake isn’t an Italian recipe at all, but it was a huge hit in my household one Christmas in Friuli. It is built around rich and nutty tasting ingredients that melt in your mouth. White flour is replaced by fibre-rich, vitamin-and mineral-dense ground hazelnuts. The lasting mouth feel is the result of the primarily unsaturated fat in the nuts. This cake stands proudly on its own – no frosting or ice cream can add to its most satisfying taste. If you must, try just a slight dusting of powdered sugar on the top of the cake. Because of the amount of sugar, the GI will be moderate. Enjoy it for dessert when entertaining and special occasions like birthdays. It will feed a crowd. And if you are worried about the calories, just have a sliver instead of a slice!
3½ cups ground roasted hazelnuts (approx. 375 g/13 oz)
1½ cups sugar
2 tbsp vanilla essence
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa (approx. 70 g/2½ oz)
12 egg whites
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Coat a spring-form pan with vegetable spray.
Mix the hazelnuts, sugar, vanilla and cocoa in a medium sized bowl. Beat egg whites until stiff and dry. Gently fold them into the chocolate nut mixture.
Pour the batter into the greased pan. Bake for 40–50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before serving.
Per slice (when cut into 12 slices)
Energy: 1402 kJ/ 334 cals; Protein 9 g; Fat 20 g (includes 2 g saturated fat and 0 mg cholesterol); Carbs 34 g; Fibre 5 g
What about those 12 egg yolks? Here are some ideas from the ever-amazing chef and food writer Kate McGhie:
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 our Money Saving Meals packed with fresh produce including these side dishes for festive fare – Sweetcorn and coconut salad from Kate McGhie’s Cook: recipes, stories and kitchen wisdom and Kate McIntosh’s Sweet potato and pistachio quinoa.
- Make mayo/hollandaise
- Whisk through pasta (carbonara or alfredo) or stir fries
- Poach the yolk and then chop and use in salads (potato is excellent) or on asparagus with salmon and a lemon-oil dressing
- Use in custard or lemon curd.
- Freeze. I pop a yolk into each cavity of an ice block tray, add a pinch salt for savoury use or sugar for sweet and freeze. When frozen I pop them into a freezer bag.
Sweetcorn and coconut salad.
A simple corn salad is ramped up with lively flavours and an unexpected burst of chilli heat. You can make this a day in advance and store, covered, in the fridge says Kate McGhie. Serves 4–6
3 cups fresh corn kernels
2½ cups milk
1 tsp butter
2 small red chillies, finely chopped
½ tsp ground cumin
2cm (1in) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 tbsp shredded coconut
6 sprigs coriander (cilantro), roughly torn
Place the corn and milk in a pan and simmer for 45 minutes or until reduced by three-quarters. Season to taste with a little salt if you wish.
Melt the butter in a pan and swirl the chillies, cumin, ginger and turmeric. Add to the corn mixture with the coriander and coconut. Stir well, cook for 2 minutes more and serve warm or cooled.
Per serve (for 6 people)
Energy: 760 kJ/200 cals; Protein 7 g; Fat 6 g (includes 4 g saturated fat and 14 mg cholesterol); Carbs 23 g; Fibre 3 g
Sweet potato and pistachio quinoa.
This dish can be served warm with lamb, chicken or fish such as mackerel and swordfish or served cold as a salad says Kate McIntosh.
Serves 4–6 as a side dish
1 orange-fleshed sweet potato (about 400 g), peeled and cut into 2cm (3/4in) dice
200g (7oz) quinoa
3 cups light chicken stock (low sodium)
3 tbsp pistachios, chopped quite finely
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp chopped coriander
2 tbsp chopped parsley
rind only 1 preserved lemon, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF ).
Roast the diced sweet potato for about 20 minutes or until tender
Cook the quinoa following the packet instructions in 3 cups (750 ml) chicken stock, then drain.
For a warm dish, heat a large pan, add all ingredients and stir over low heat until warmed through.
If serving cold, simply toss all ingredients together and season to taste.
Per serve (for 6 people)
kJ/Cal 1269/302; Protein 8 g; Fat 12 g (includes saturated 2 g) Carbohydrate 38 g; Fibre 5 g
Three fruity desserts for festive fare ...
Mango, passion fruit and lime fruit salad.
Kate McIntosh’s dessert is absolutely delicious and truly made in minutes. Serves 2
2 medium ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into dice (about 2 cups mango dice)
2 ripe passion fruit
½ cup (125 ml) mango puree
pinch of ground ginger
1 lime, juiced
Combine the mango puree, ginger and lime juice in a small bowl to make the dressing.
Place the mango dice into a serving bowl. Scoop out the passionfruit pulp and seeds and add to the mango dice, then gently stir through the mango-lime dressing.
700 kJ/167 calories; 3 g protein; 0.6 g fat (includes 0 g saturated fat); 33 g carbohydrate; 6 g fibre
Baked spiced pears with zabaglione sauce.
Johanna Burani’s pears with cinnamon and cardamom are a marriage made in culinary heaven.
2 ripe Bosc pears
2 tbsp sugar, divided
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp marsala wine
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
Peel, halve and core the pears. Place them cut side down in a rectangular baking pan with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.
Combine 1 tablespoon of the sugar with the spices, and sprinkle half of this mixture over the pears. Bake the pears for 5 minutes in the preheated oven. Turn the pear halves over, sprinkle with the remaining sugar-spice mixture and continue to bake for another 5 minutes. Pears are done when they are easily pierced by a fork but still hold their shape. Large pears may take a little longer to cook. Remove from the oven, place in individual dessert dishes and set aside.
To make the sauce, combine the egg yolk and remaining tablespoon of sugar in a very small saucepan and mix vigorously for at least 5 minutes with a wooden spoon. Slowly add the marsala and mix well. Heat over low heat stirring constantly for approximately 1 minute or until the mixture thickens WITHOUT COMING TO A BOIL. Pour the sauce over the pear halves and serve warm or at room temperature.
Per serve (Serving size: ½ pear with 2 tbsp of sauce)
Energy: 416 kJ/ 99 cals; Protein 1 g; Fat 2 g (includes less than 1 g saturated fat and 55 mg cholesterol); Carbs 21 g; Fibre 2 g
Easy mango crumble.
You can use fresh in season or canned or frozen mango cheeks or slices in Catherine Saxelby and Jennene Plummer’s deliciously versatile recipe (from Zest). It also works with other summery fruits and other nuts like pistachios or macadamias. Serves 4–6
100g (3½oz) almond bread or biscotti, roughly crushed
½ cup rolled oats
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp wheatgerm
2 x 400g (14oz) cans mango slices in syrup, drained, (reserve 2 tbsp of the syrup), or 8 frozen or fresh mango cheeks
1 tbsp chopped pistachio nuts
2 tbsp maple syrup
low fat vanilla yoghurt and maple syrup to serve
Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
Combine the crushed almond bread, oats, brown sugar, wheatgerm and the 2 tablespoons of reserved mango syrup in a large mixing bowl.
Cut mango into chunks and arrange in a shallow ovenproof dish.
Scatter over the crumble mixture and bake for 20–25 minutes until the topping is crisp and golden.
Serve with yoghurt and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Energy 1260 kJ/ 300 cals; 17 g fat (includes 6 saturated fat g); 2.5 g fibre; 7 g protein; 28 g available carbohydrate