Carb Solutions: Savory Grape Side Dish
Over half of the U.S. adult population, some 154 million, qualify as being overweight or obese. Another 29 million of us have Diabetes, many as a direct result of being overweight. Then there are the 23.9 million overweight children who are dutifully following the example of their XXL adult role models. Diabetes and these extra pounds cost this country billions annually in both medical and economic resources; not to mention the effect these weight-related maladies have on a person’s overall mental well-being and happiness. However, both diabetes and being overweight are very manageable, even preventable, with a few lifestyle tweaks. By maintaining a sensible diet in conjunction with some consistent exercise, no matter how minimal, we can all be in total control of our own weight. One easy way to start taking that control is to make decisions about the foods we eat based on the glycemic index [GI] and glycemic load [GL].
Simply put, our bodies convert all foods into sugar calories that provide energy to the body via the blood stream. The Glycemic Index assigns a score of 1 to 100 to all foods based how speedy the body converts that food into sugar. Foods that break down slowly enable the body to assimilate theses calories of energy more efficiently without overwhelming the body with more sugar than it can process. While this is especially important for diabetics who process sugars much slower than others, everyone can benefit from eating foods that have low glycemic scores since they also reduce appetite and encourage the metabolism to burn body fat. Conversely, a diet of foods high on the glycemic charts have been proven to actually increase appetite and impede effective fat oxidation.
A QUICKIE GLYCEMIC PRIMER:
- The glycemic index of a food compares its effect on blood sugar level to that of pure glucose, which has a score of 100. White breads, which are made of processed white flour, are at the top of this scale, scoring a “perfect” 100 on the glycemic index. For perspective, a score of 55 or below denotes a low glycemic index food; 70 or above is considered very high. Serving size is not a consideration in arriving at a food’s Glycemic Index number.
- The glycemic load, on the other hand, focuses on how much digestible carbohydrates (sugars) a food contains in a typical single serving, which is defined as approximately 3.5 ounces. For glycemic load, a score of 20 or more is high, while 10 or less is low.
Fresh mushrooms are 80% water, which is removed when dried, leaving a highly concentrated product packed with flavor and nutrients. Unlike vegetables that lose much of their nutritional value when processed, dried mushrooms retain all of their medicinal and immune-boosting properties. In fact, mushrooms like shiitake, once reconstituted, have an even meatier texture than fresh mushrooms. Dried morels are almost interchangeable with fresh morels.
Grapes are packed with beneficial vitamins, nutrients and just plain juicy goodness! One of the most important chemical compounds in grapes for carb counters is resveratrol. Resveratrol controls the way the metabolism handles glucose following a meal. Because of this, diabetics can better manage their glucose levels. The high fiber and water content of grapes make the fruit a good snack option for people with diabetes. Fiber helps to delay the amount of sugar entering the body. Grape fiber also assists in weight control by providing a feeling of fullness as it is a low-calorie, energy-rich food. Grapes pack several vital vitamins and minerals like vitamins B6, B2, C, K, manganese, potassium and copper.
This recipe is great for entertaining because the prep of reconstituting the mushrooms and halving the grapes can be done several hours ahead. In fact, while you’re at it, slice up the shallots and mince the garlic too. What’s left is basically the stovetop sauté that can be done 10 to 15 minutes before serving. This allows the host to focus on more complicated dishes for the menu. The elegant simplicity of this dish will impress, and it looks like it took a lot more work than it actually did. That is, unless one decides to let the guest believe that a recent mushroom hunt has produced this tasty bounty of fungi! Mum’s the word!
Mushroom Medley & Grape Sauté
1 oz. olive oil
2 pkgs Melissa’s Dried Mushroom Medley, soak to reconstitute
2 pkgs Melissa’s Dried Morels Mushrooms, soak to reconstitute
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, leaves only
1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
1 cup green seedless grapes, halved
Salt and pepper, to taste
Dry white wine, to glaze pan
1 oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled
Follow instructions on package to reconstitute the mushrooms. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium-high flame. When oil is shimmering add the mushrooms, sear until fully cooked, stirring often.
Add garlic and shallot; sauté until aromatic. Add grapes; toss lightly to combine. Deglaze the pan with a little white wine.
Transfer serving to bowl, add goat cheese, toss lightly. Serve as a side dish or family style.