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


Pao’s asparagus soup. 
This recipe is not Italian at all. It came to me from Ireland during a conversation with a fabulous Thai chef while we were visiting good friends in Bangkok more than 20 years ago. This chef, Boonraud Poonruang, fondly called “Pao,” made this soup while previously working in Ireland. Pao recently left this life and it is in tribute to her that I share her recipe, just at a time when this year’s crop of asparagus is starting to show up in Italian markets. I like to use the thin green asparagus. They are less “woody” than the thicker ones so there is less waste. Servings: 4 x 1¼ cups.

 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1lb (450g) fresh asparagus, washed, bottom ends cut off, cut into 1in (2.5cm) pieces
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
½ tbsp flour
½ cup evaporated skimmed milk
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Pao’s asparagus soup

Bring the broth to a boil in medium sauce pan. Add the asparagus. Return to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Set aside.
Melt the butter or margarine in a small pan, add the onions and sauté until soft but not browned (approximately 3 minutes). Add the flour and the milk (slowly) mix well and continue cooking on a lower flame until the liquid starts to thicken.
Add the flour mixture to the asparagus and simmer for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Puree until velvety using an immersion blender or food processor and serve hot.

Per serve 
400kJ/96 calories; 5g protein; 3g fat (includes 2g saturated fat); 13g available carbs; 3g fibre 

Here’s how you can 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 including this easy salad from Chrissy Freer’s Supergrains.

Roasted capsicum with (low GI) freekeh salad and labneh.
Freekeh is wheat that’s picked green and roasted. It’s also low GI – wholegrain freekeh (GI 43) and cracked freekeh (GI 55). You can use it in recipes where you would typically use rice, bulgur or couscous. You will find it in larger supermarkets and health food stores. Serves 4.

1 cup freekeh
2 large red capsicums (peppers), halved and seeded
400g/14oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp snipped chives
75g/3oz baby rocket (arugula) leaves
120g/4oz labneh or marinated feta

Freekeh salad and labneh

Cook freekeh in a large saucepan of boiling water for 45 minutes or until tender. Rinse under cold running water and drain well. Meanwhile …
Preheat the grill (broiler) in high. Place the capsicums, skin side up, on a baking tray and grill until the skin is blisters, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof bowl, cover, and set aside to cool slightly, then carefully peel away the skin and thinly slice the flesh. Set aside.
Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, sumac and honey to make the dressing.
Put the cooked freekeh, capsicums, chickpeas, chives and rocket in a large bowl. Add the dressing and gently toss to combine then season to taste. Serve topped with the labneh and sprinkled with a little extra sumac.

Per serve 
1400kJ/340 calories; 17g protein; 10g fat (includes 5g saturated fat); 40g available carbs; 10g fibre


Supergrains (Murdoch Books/Australia; Random House/UK & US) is available in good bookshops and online. It has over 100 recipes for quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, brown rice, chia, millet, oats, kamut, spelt, barley, faro and freekeh and includes 40 gluten-free recipes.

Rosemary smoked tomato jam with poached egg. 
McCormick scientists (yes, from the herb and spice company) have unlocked the mechanism behind rosemary’s ability to reduce blood glucose spikes and cholesterol. According to data they have published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, extracts from rosemary may activate energy-sensing molecules in cells, which then activate pathways to breakdown carbs and lipids. This research inspired us to share with you this delicious rosemary smoked jam recipe – a tart-sweet spicy condiment for sandwiches, burgers and grilled meats. We discovered it at their 2013 Flavour Forecast, an annual event where the chefs showcase their range of taste trends. If you like shashouka, you’ll love this way to serve poached eggs. Of course, you don’t have to wait and make it for eight. Make the jam and serve it with a poached egg for a tasty breakfast, lunch or dinner. Serves 8.

1kg (2.4lb) Roma tomatoes, cored, halved and seeded
1 medium onion, cut into thick slices
1 small green mild chilli, seeded
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp (40ml) cider vinegar
1 tsp McCormick rosemary leaves, crushed
1/2 tsp McCormick sea salt (optional)
1/4 tsp McCormick ground black pepper

Poached egg 
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
8 large (60g/2oz) eggs
 8 slices grainy (low GI) bread

Rosemary smoked tomato jam with poached egg

Grill the tomatoes, onion and chilli on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or until lightly charred, turning occasionally.
Chop the tomatoes, onion and chilli and place in a saucepan. Add sugar, vinegar, rosemary, salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low; simmer for 1 hour or until thickened, stirring occasionally. When the jam is ready …
Fill a large deep saucepan with 4cm (2in) of water. Add the white wine vinegar and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium so that the water is simmering. Break 1 egg into small dish and carefully slide into the simmering water (bubbles should begin to break the surface of the water). Repeat with the remaining eggs. Poach the eggs for 3–5 minutes or until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken. Carefully remove the eggs with slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
Place a slice of bread (or toast if you prefer) on each plate and top with a dollop or two of jam and a poached egg.

Per serve (1 egg per person) 
960kJ/230 calories; 11g protein; 6g fat; 33g carbs; 3g fibre