Archive for Glycemic Index 101

Books About Bread

Most low carb diets make bread out to be the enemy.  It’s not, of course.  But it is my drug of choice (bread, popcorn, and potatoes far outweigh sweets anyday).  If you eat breads that are made from whole grains and are higher in fiber they can be a good part of a glycemic index/diabetic friendly diet.  There are plenty of good ones on the market, already.  My favorite whole wheat bagette? The one made by Panera Bread and is one of the side options available to you for no extra charge.  I also really like to bake my own bread, and have been adapting recipes to make them more GI friendly and sharing those recipes here on the blog.  But alot of people are scared of baking bread.  Working with yeast is a bit scary, isn’t it?  My first (many, many) loaves of bread were shapeless nasty lumps.  I finally got successful with foccacia, but it wasn’t until I discovered the Tassajara Bread Book did  I finaly really start to understand the chemistry of bread.  Here are my three going to a deserted island with me bread books:

The Tassajara Bread Book By Edward Espe Brown — This is the one mentioned above.  It explains the chemistry of how yeast reacts, how to manage the temperature of water, how to speed up and/or retard the rising, and all those scarey aspects of bread making in a way that even an idiot (me) can understand.  I have never, ever had any of his bread recipes fail on me.  Ed Brown is my bread hero.

Beard On Bread By James Beard — If the one above is Bread Baking 101, then this book is a good 201.  It’s full of delicious recipes (including the un-GI friendly but so delicious potato bread, a carb lovers dream) that are easy to follow once you feel comfortable with the basis.

The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide To Whole Grain Breadmaking by Laurel Robertson — A great understnading of working with whole grain breads, before whole grain breads were cool.  I wouldn’t start with this one (I tried that back when I was about 19, whole grains are harder to work with hence the bricks) but once you are comfie with the chemistry of bread and want to start getting more GI friendly with your recipes, this book will be invaluable.


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A good source of whole grains or an excellent one?

I posted last week on how to recognize the difference between something “made with whole grains” and something that truly is a good source of whole grains.   Sneaky labeling can make something seem to be a good product when it really isn’t what you expect it to be.  However the FDA 2005 dietary guidelines did change some labeling laws regarding whole grain products.  Whole grains are an important part of any diet, especially the glycemic index diet.  The FDA now states:

The dietary requirement for fiber was increased significantly based on scientific evidence of its health benefits. The requirement was set at 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories. So the average person with a 2000-calorie intake needs 28 grams of fiber per day

So how do you tell if the product you are buying really is good for you.?

In order for a food product to be considered a whole grain product, and to use a health claim on its label it must contain 51 percent or more whole grain ingredients by weight. This means, of course, that whole grain should be the first ingredient in the ingredient list.


In order for a manufacturer to make a nutrient content claim on a food product of a “good” source of dietary fiber, it must contain 10 to 19 percent of the recommended daily intake or Daily Reference Value (DRV) of fiber per serving. If you want to label your product as an “excellent” source of dietary fiber it must contain 20 percent or more of the recommended daily intake per serving.

Fiber content decreases the glycemic index of foods so this is an important label to watch for.


Source: FDA Whole Gains and Health Speech May 20, 2005.

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Organic, cage free, or free range eggs…confused?

Eggs are a protein, an inexpensive protein at that.  And they have a glycemix index value of 0 so they can be a great addition to a GI friendly diet.  (Though hard boiled eggs can sure stink up an office when brought in for breakfast, I know from experience!)

Organic eggs are essentially eggs that are farmed on a organic certified farm.  There are very few egg farms in south Texas period,  so purchasing local, certified organic eggs is fairly expensive (about 6.00 a dozen), especially for families that eat quite a few eggs, like we do.  Eggs and poultry are one of the fastest growing segments of the organic market.

I purchase locally farmed eggs from Featherland Egg Farms that are steroid and hormone free.  They also have cage free eggs available.  The farm also owns and operates their own feed mill so I feel comfortable about where my eggs are coming from and how the chickens that produce them are cared for.

(More information about the difference between free range and cage free eggs…mostly semantic.)

Like everything else, the price of eggs from Featherland have gone up.  Until recently, they were .69 cents a dozen at the local Featherland outlet and they are now .99 cents a dozen.

I can handle that.

Most of their eggs are distributed wholesale, but they have an outlet on the NE side of San Antonio that also sells fresh fruits and veggies.  Cash only.

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Finding Glycemic Index Friendly Whole Grain Products

The problem is, labels touting “made with whole grains” (or made with ANYTHING) don’t mean a whole lot and are not mandated by the Food and Drug Administration.  If you want to make sure what you are eating really is a good source of whole grains (which gives the product a lower glycemic index value due to the high fiber content), look for two things:

1) This seal, which was developed by the WHole Grains Council (

2) The ingredients list itself.  Is it the first thing listed or one of the first?  Are the grains listed as “whole” as in “whole oats”?

If you see one or both of these on the package it makes it a safe bet that you have found a GI friendly product!

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Glycemic Index Diet Staple — Brown Rice

Brown rice is a pain to cook.  I’ve tried cooking it from scratch and I thought it might possible make me cry.  I’ve tried to make rice pilaf using brown rice and THAT was a joke.  My big brown rice secret is that I use…..instant.

That’s right boys and girls.  I have a confession to make.  I freakin’ LOVE Success Boil In Bag Brown Rice.  It comes in a regular size and family size boil bags and it’s the primary rice I use now (I don’t even keep white rice in the house anymore, too tempting).  And it’s GOOD, really good.  I made chicken and veggie stir fry for a work potluck and brought brown rice to go with it.  I had people ask me what rice cooker I use because brown rice won’t work in theirs, and they didn’t believe it was instant.

If cooking brown rice is an overwhelming pain in the butt for you like it is for me, try the boil in bag version.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

There are several othered flavored brown rice varieties that I have tried.  There are many more out there, so please share a review of your favorites!

Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain and Wild Rice — Mushroom Recipe.  This one is my favorite of the pre-seasoned whole grain rice mixes.  It has a nice flavor and my kids love it too!

Bonus:  Click here for a coupon for $1.00 off two boxes of Uncle Ben’s rices.

Rice-A-Roni Savory Whole Grain Blends Chicken and Herb Classico.  This one is my favorite of the Rice A Roni blends and is a good side to chicken dishes.

Rice-A-Roni Savory Whole Grain Blends Roasted Garlic Italiano. Is also good, and one I purchase regularly.  I need to experiment with adding some more garlic and herbs to it though.

Rice-A-Roni Savory Whole Grain Spanish  is the only substitute I’ve found for Spanish rice that is GI friendly.  It’s not bad but it doesn’t come close to the Mahatma Spanish Rice mix that I LOVE but is made with white rice.

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“Free Foods”

I was looking for information on the exact GI of different types of onions, and I came upon David Mendoza, a fella I’m glad I met. His site has lots of info on GI living, and I just thought, for fun, I’d show you what his free foods are. His definition of free foods: “…any food with fewer than 5 grams of available carbohydrate in a 100 gram portion is a free food. The rest of the portion is protein, fat, fiber, ash, and water.” David’s list:

Alfalfa seeds, sprouted 1.28
Arugula 2.05
Asparagus, cooked 2.63
Bamboo shoots, cooked 0.92
Beans, green, cooked 4.69
Beans, snap, green, cooked 4.68
Beet greens, cooked 2.56
Broccoli, cooked 2.16
Brussels sprouts, cooked 4.5
Cabbage, cooked 2.16
Cauliflower, cooked 1.41
Celeriac (celery root), cooked 4.7
Celery 1.95
Chard, swiss, cooked 2.04
Collards, cooked 2.1
Cucumber 1.8
Dandelion greens, cooked 3.5
Eggplant, cooked 4.14
Endive 0.25
Fennel, bulb 4.19
Hearts of palm, canned 2.22
Jicama 3.92
Kale, cooked 3.63
Lettuce, butterhead 1.32
Lettuce, cos or romaine 0.67
Lettuce, iceberg 0.69
Mustard greens, cooked 0.1
Mushrooms 2.94-3.57 (except shitake)
Nopales, cooked 1.27
Olives, canned ripe 3.06
Okra, cooked 4.71
Olives, canned ripe 3.06
Parsley 3.03
Peppers, serano 3.00
Peppers, jalapeno 3.11
Peppers, sweet green 4.63
Peppers, sweet red 4.43
Pumpkin, cooked 3.80
Purslane 3.43
Radicchio 3.58
Radishes 1.99
Rhubarb 2.74
Sauerkraut 1.78
Scallions (green onions) 4.74
Spinach, cooked 1.35
Squash, summer, cooked 2.91
Squash, zucchini, cooked 2.53
Tomatillos 3.93
Tomatoes 3.54
Tomato juice 3.83
Turnips, cooked 2.9
Turnip greens, cooked 0.86
Watercress 0.79
Avocados 2.39
Chayote (christophene) 2.20
Raspberries 4.77
Strawberries 4.72
Macademia Nuts 4.83
Pecans 4.26
All meat and fin fish 0.00
Caviar 4.00
Crab 0.95
Lobster 1.28
Shrimp 0.00
Butter 0.06
Buttermilk, lowfat 4.79
Cheese, cheddar 1.28
Cheese, Edam 1.43
Cheese, Gouda 2.22
Cheese, Swiss 3.38
Cream cheese, 2.66
Cottage cheese, 2% milkfat 3.63
Eggs 1.22
Half and Half 4.30
Heavy Cream 2.79
Goat milk 4.45
Mayonnaise 2.70
Milk, 1% milkfat, added solids 4.97
Milk, 3.25% milkfat 4.66
Ricotta cheese, whole milk 3.04
Soy milk, 0.51
Yogurt, plain, whole milk 4.66
Soluble and insoluble fiber (a part of other foods) 0.00
Coffee (without cream or sugar) 0.00
Diet Soda 0.00
Tea (without milk or sugar) 0.00
Water 0.00
Aspartame (NutraSweet) 0.001
Saccharin (Sweet’N Low) 0.001
Stevia 0.00
Sucralose (Splenda) 0.001

David has a fantastic Diabetes blog. Check it out.

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G.I. Links

A glycemic index food chart.

 A G.I. foods database.  Not sure how complete it is, I couldn’t find anything Mexican food related.

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