1 October 2005

Low GI Food of the Month

The Versatile Tortilla—Perfect for Wrapping, Scooping and Dipping
Tortillas are a flat (unleavened) bread traditionally made from corn (maize) flour. A staple of Mexican cuisine, they are quite different from the Spanish tortilla, which is a type of omelet. And when made in the traditional Mexican way, whether from corn or wheat flour, they have a low GI.

Photo: Ian Hofstetter, The Low GI Diet Cookbook

Almost any kind of food that does not contain too much liquid—beans, corn or chicken, chilli or salsa—can be placed on or wrapped in the versatile tortilla for a complete meal. Make the most of them with your favourite recipes for burritos, enchiladas, fajitas and quesadillas (but hold the creamy dips) or use as rolls, wraps or scoops. Corn tortillas are also a good alternative to bread if you are gluten intolerant.

To make bean and corn burritos, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4). Combine a 400 gram (14 oz) can of corn kernels, drained, a 400 gram (14 oz) can of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained, 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped, 2 shallots, finely sliced and 75 g (2½ oz) prepared taco sauce in a bowl. Wrap four 15 cm (6-inch) white corn tortillas in foil and warm in the oven for 5 minutes. To assemble, spread shredded lettuce over a warmed tortilla, and top with the bean mixture and a little grated fat reduced cheese. Fold the bottom of the tortilla over the filling, and roll up to enclose. Serve immediately. Makes 4.


Anonymous said...

The results of glycemic index testing of wheat and corn tortillas were published in 2000. Reference: Noriega E, Rivera L, Peralta E. ‘Glycaemic and insulinaemic indices of Mexican foods high in complex carbohydrates.’ Diabetes Nutr Metab 2000; 13: 13-9.

Anonymous said...

I suspect the "cornflour" in the book is the extremely fine milled kind - the type used to thicken stews and puddings. While tortillas are made of corn meal - a much coarser grind.

But guessing at this is very difficult. How can lebanese bread and pita bread be so different? Why are white & wholemeal bread about the same GI in a commercial loaf but radically different in Turkish bread. I'm confused.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that there is a bit of confusion as to what corn flour is. In America (and most of North and South America) what you are referring to as "corn flour" is called corn starch. It is only the starchy part of the corn grain(therefore very sweet and finely ground with a VERY high GI). You would only use corn starch/flour as a thickener in the same way you might use potato starch or wheat starch. Corn tortillas are made with corn meal - a whole grain coarsely ground product (frequently stone ground) with all of the natural bran and germ present. To make a corn tortilla with what you are calling corn flour would be like trying to make wholemeal bread with wheat starch. Interesting results but NOT what you had hoped for!

GI Group said...

Corn flour? Corn meal? Time to clarify.
Some extra notes to help clarify the confusion re tortillas and what flour to use. The first step of course is to find a good recipe and use the ingredients specified. Julia Child Cookbook Award Winner, Rebecca Wood, for example, uses masa harina, a flour made from dried posole (hominy) in her recipe for CornTortillas with Marjoram (The Splendid Grain, William Morrow & Company page 58). As a substitute she suggests wheat tortilla or all-purpose (plain) flour. She explains the difference in corn flour and cornmeal as follows:
'Corn flour, corn meal, and corn grits ... are different in particle size and may be ground from whole or from germinated corn. Always favour freshly ground (preferably stoneground) wholegrain cornmeal and corn flour for their sweet full corn flavor ... Corn flour is almost as fine as white wheat flour and best used in corn beverages, cakes and cookies. Corn flour is not to be confused with cornstarch a highly processed thickening agent which is called corn flour in the UK (and Australia and New Zealand) ... Cornmeal is coarsely ground and yields a granular crumb. It may be coarse or fine ...'