Low GI Recipes of the Month

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American dietitian, Johanna Burani invites GI News readers to try recipes from her Italian kitchen (photographed by Sergio Burani).

Johanna Burani

Flourless chocolate hazelnut cake
This cake isn’t an Italian recipe at all, but it was a huge hit in my household over Christmas in Friuli. It is built around rich and nutty tasting ingredients that melt in your mouth. Empty-calorie, high GI 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!
Serves 12


3½ cups ground roasted hazelnuts (approx. 375 g/13 oz)
1½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons 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

Visit Johanna’s website: www.eatgoodcarbs.com.

UK dietitian Azmina Govindji shares recipes from her new book (with chef Sanjeev Kapoor) Healthy Indian Cooking for Diabetes photographed by Yuki Sugiura.It’s available from bookshops in the UK, from Amazon and in ANZ online from Great Ideas in Nutrition.

Azmina Govindji

Gujurati yoghurt curry
(Gujarati kadhi)
Serve this kadhi or curry piping hot and mixed with steamed rice – basmati of course. Jaggery is an unrefined sugar sold in a block that’s made from sugar cane. In Mexico and South America, it is known as panela. Use brown sugar as a substitute. Use a little crushed garlic instead of the asafoetida if you wish.
Serves 4


1 oz (25 g) gram flour (besan)
18 oz (500 g) low-fat plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon grated jaggery
2 green chillies, minced
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
8–10 curry leaves
2 dried red chillies, broken in half
3–4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
Pinch asafoetida

Whisk together the besan and yoghurt until smooth. Add 3¼ cups (800 mL) water, mix well then stir in the jiggery and green chillies. Cook on a low heat, stirring continuously until the curry reaches the right runny consistency. Add the salt.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan, then add the mustard and cumin seeds, curry leaves, dried red chillies, cloves, cinnamon and asafetida. When the seeds begin to crackle, stir this mix into the curry.

Per serve (without the rice)
Energy: 476 kJ/ 112 cals; Protein 8 g; Fat 3 g (includes 0.9 g saturated fat); Carbs 15 g; Fibre 0.7 g

Visit Azmina’s website: www.govindjinutrition.com

Beautiful soup, so rich and orange!
Editor’s report: I loved this soup from Lisa Drayer’s new Beauty Diet book which provides generous serves plus leftovers to freeze for another day. It’s also packed with spices and, as Catherine says in this issue, they are a great source of antioxidants. We estimate this recipe will borderline low GI – orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are moderate GI (65) and carrots are low (41) and it is amazingly rich in fibre. It’s available from bookshops and Amazon in the US and in ANZ from Great Ideas in Nutrition.


US nutritionist and dietitian, Lisa Drayer M.A., R.D., explains why sweet potato is one of her top 10 beauty foods in her new book, The Beauty Diet available from good bookshops and Amazon. ‘Sweet potatoes are on my list of Top 10 Beauty Foods because of their big boost of beauty-enhancing beta-carotene, a fat soluble pigment found in many orange vegetables and fruits. It is a powerful antioxidant that protects our cells (including skin cells) against damage caused by free radicals. Additionally, the body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, which helps keep your skin soft and smooth. My Beauty Diet includes all the nutrients you need for beautiful skin and avoids those problem foods that have too many high GI carbs, sugar, and poor-quality fats.’

Spicy carrot and sweet potato soup
4 servings (2 cups each)


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed
¼ teaspoon hot red pepper (chilli) flakes
1 lb (450 g) carrots, peeled and chopped
2 lb (900 g) orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 x 14 oz (400 g) cans fat-free chicken broth (stock)
3 cups (750 mL) water
3 tablespoons peanut butter
¼ teaspoon salt (kosher or sea salt)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander), for garnish

  • Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and red pepper (chilli) flakes. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes, then add the carrots and sweet potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes and add the broth and water.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are just tender (about 25 minutes). Remove from the heat, lift out the cinnamon sticks with a slotted spoon and, using a hand blender, blend until slightly chunky. Stir in the peanut butter, season with salt if using and serve, garnishing each bowl with chopped cilantro.

Per serve (2 cups)
Energy: 1396 kJ/ 331 cals; Protein 9 g; Fat 10,5 g (includes 1.9 g saturated fat and 0 mg cholesterol); Carbs 54 g; Fibre 10 g