In the summer of 1971, when I was just 21 years old, my girlfriend and I traveled around Europe for two months. We spent the last couple of weeks in the Croatian fishing village on the Adriatic where my father was born.
My grandmother still lived in Zablace and was in her 80s then. She could get around just fine but didn’t cook much anymore, so a cousin who lived nearby made our meals. The big meal of the day was served at noon and usually consisted of fish caught that morning sautéed in olive oil with garlic and parsley. My Baba’s garden provided fresh green beans and the salad: lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers tossed with homemade red wine vinegar. There was always a hot loaf of crusty bread — we’d call it “artisan bread” now — that we mopped our plates with.
Towards the end of our time with Baba, before our return to San Francisco to begin senior year in college, I told my girlfriend how I was desperately homesick for just two things: my boyfriend and a bologna sandwich on Wonder Bread!
How I’ve changed in the last 40 years! I haven’t touched bologna in at least 20 years and rarely eat white bread.
Recently I read an article in The Bulletin, our sister paper in Bend, Ore., that drove home the benefit of substituting whole wheat for white. Here’s an excerpt from Anne Aurard’s story:
“A smattering of research suggests that low-glycemic diets reduce the risk of chronic disease and may be protective against heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Low-glycemic foods are generally described as slowly-digested carbohydrates, such as whole grains, legumes and other high-fiber foods. The “glycemic index” ranks foods on a scale from 1 to 100 to help describe how quickly carbohydrates break down in the digestive system to form glucose, a source of energy for our bodies and brains.
Foods that digest more quickly have a higher index. Foods ranked 100 are the equivalent of pure glucose. Fat and fiber tend to lower the glycemic index of a food, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Low-glycemic diets have been used to help people with diabetes keep their blood sugar under control. Eating a low-glycemic diet does not cause blood glucose levels to spike and increases a hormone that helps regulate the metabolism of fat and sugar.
But there might be a broader benefit to those without diabetes. A new study by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center published in the February print issue of The Journal of Nutrition said eating low-glycemic foods significantly reduces markers of inflammation associated with chronic disease in overweight and obese but otherwise healthy adults.
Eris Craven, a registered dietitian in Bend, answers some questions about the glycemic index and what it means to the average person.
Q: What’s the difference in low-glycemic and high-glycemic foods?
A: The glycemic index is a rating system of carbohydrate foods based on the potential to raise blood glucose, or sugar, levels. White bread or table sugar is used as the standard by which other carbohydrates are compared. Those foods were given the value of 100 in the glycemic index.
Other carbohydrate foods are rated against this number and given their own number value based on the rise in blood glucose after consumption. Low-glycemic index foods are typically rated less than 55 and high-glycemic index foods are rated greater than 70. A food rated with a high-glycemic index may raise blood glucose more than a food rated with a low-glycemic index.
Q: What are some examples of each?
A: Low-glycemic index foods include: sweet potato, legumes, lentils, apples, oranges, broccoli and barley.
High-glycemic index foods include melons, pineapple, (white) potatoes, white bread and white rice.”
Rick loves waffles. He’d eat them every day. His go-to recipe uses Bisquick. I’ve been experimenting with a healthier substitute, and I think I’ve come up with a winner. Rick says it’s so good that I should share it with you. So here you go.
1 cup organic unbleached flour
¾ cup organic whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons organic sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground organic flaxseed
1 tablespoon organic natural raw wheat germ
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
2 Alexandre Kids eggs
2 cups buttermilk (I use low-fat powdered buttermilk that you mix with water)
½ cup organic canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions: Stir all dry ingredients together in medium size bowl. Make a well in the middle. Make 2 cups of buttermilk (if using powder) and mix with 2 slightly beaten eggs, oil and vanilla. Pour all at once into the bowl and mix with spoon until moistened. Batter will be a little lumpy.
Make waffles like you usually do. Makes about a dozen waffles. Batter keeps well in a refrigerator for several days and waffles made a day or two later are just as good. Rick likes them with lots of Rumiano butter and maple syrup. I eat them plain right out of the waffle iron.
Reach Michele Thomas, the Del Norte Triplicate’s publisher, at firstname.lastname@example.org, 464-2141 or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.