In the GI News Kitchen

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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


Orecchiette and broccoli alla Franca
I’ve known Franca almost as long as I know my husband (39 years). They were high school friends and anytime we visit my husband’s hometown, Reggio Emilia (about 30 minutes west of Bologna), we always wind up at Franca’s house for dinner. Her culinary prowess is as acclaimed as her affable personality, wit and contagious laugh. Recently I asked her for a low GI recipe that I could share with readers; she wrote this up for me in less than 5 minutes! Orecchiette are ‘little ears’ pasta shapes, but you could use your favourite shapes for this.
Serves 4

250g (1/2 lb) head of fresh broccoli
250g (8 oz) uncooked orecchiette
1 oz. freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
1–2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Orecchiette and broccoli alla Franca

  • Bring 5 litres (quarts) of water to a boil and add 1 heaped tablespoon kosher (sea) salt.
  • In the meantime, wash the broccoli and divide it up into small florets, trim the stems and cut into small slices.
  • When the water starts to boil, add the broccoli and the pasta at the same time. Cook over moderate heat for 10–11 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.
  • While the pasta and broccoli are cooking, combine half the cheese, the garlic, 2–3 tablespoons of the cooking water and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small bowl; mix to form a dense ‘cheese paste’.
  • When the pasta and broccoli are cooked, drain them, keeping aside ½ cup of the cooking water.
  • Place the pasta quickly in a preheated serving bowl, add the remaining olive oil (2 tablespoons) and the cheese paste. Add some of the reserved cooking water if the pasta is too dry. Serve immediately with extra grated cheese sprinkled on top.

Franca says: Instead of the garlic, one can substitute 2–3 anchovies in oil, smashing them with a fork and adding them to the cheese.

Per serving (without the extra cheese)
Energy: 1617 kJ/ 385 cals; Protein 16 g; Fat 14 g (includes 3 g saturated fat and 7 mg cholesterol); Carbs 53 g; Fibre 9 g

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 Money Saving Meals author Diane Temple. For more recipes check out Diane’s Money Saving Meals website.

Chicken and corn nuggets
The next time the clamour for takeaway starts, try these lightly pan fried nuggets with crispy low GI breadcrumbs for satisfying crunch. You can also bake them, but they take a little longer to cook. Made this way, they are a quick and budget friendly meal, tasty finger food when entertaining or ideal for lunch boxes. These work out at about 30 cents a nugget, less if you buy the mince on special. Freeze uncooked patties and cook after thawing in the fridge. I serve them with crudités (carrot, celery, tiny tomatoes, blanched snow peas) when my daughter’s friends come round for a sleepover, and there are always clean plates (yes, all the veggies are eaten too).
Makes about 30

Chicken and corn nuggets

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) chicken mince
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
125 g (4 oz) can corn kernels, drained
1 cup fresh low GI multigrain breadcrumbs
2 tablespoon chopped chives
½ cup dried multigrain breadcrumbs (see tip below)
2 tablespoons canola oil

To serve
Celery and carrot sticks
Tiny tomatoes
Blanched snowpeas (mangetout) or sugar snap peas
Crispy green beans
Tomato, barbecue or sweet chilli sauce

  • Mix the chicken mince, soy sauce, garlic, corn kernels, fresh breadcrumbs and chives together. With damp hands, roll 1 tablespoon of the mixture into a ball, then flatten it slightly. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Roll each nugget in dry breadcrumbs and chill in the fridge for 10–20 minutes, if you have time (they will stick better).
  • Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the nuggets in batches (about 2 minutes each side) until golden brown and cooked through. Place them on a tray lined with paper towel. Repeat with remaining nuggets.

Per nugget
Energy: 236 kJ/ 56 cals; Protein 4 g; Fat 4 g (includes 0.5 g saturated fat and 15 mg cholesterol); Carbs 3 g; Fibre 0.5 g

Diane’s Money Saving Meals tips for making low GI breadcrumbs
Crumbs are great for topping dishes like macaroni cheese or potato bakes, for crumbing pieces of fish, chicken or meat before pan-frying, or for sprinkling over grilled tomatoes or stuffed mushrooms. Keep those stale bits of low GI bread or crusts and make your own ‘fresh’ crumbs by whizzing them in the food processor and freezing in an airtight container so you have them when you need them.

To make 1 cup dried breadcrumbs, cut four slices of low GI grainy bread (or gluten-free bread) into four pieces each. Place the squares on a wire rack in a baking dish and bake in a preheated oven (180ºC/350ºF) for 10–15 minutes until just coloured. Turn off the oven and leave the bread there for a further 20–25 minutes until it is hard. Break into smaller pieces and whiz in a food processor until crumbed. Or put in a strong plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

Quality low GI bread for crumbs

To flavour crumbs when cooking add some:

  • Lightly toasted sesame seeds
  • Freshly chopped herbs or dried
  • Spices or spice blends – cumin, paprika, cayenne
  • Pesto (any flavour) especially for crumb toppings for grilled tomatoes or stuffed mushrooms
  • Lemon zest for chicken, fish, lamb or veal; lime zest for chicken, fish or seafood; and orange zest for pork or veal.