Crispy bread with health benefits

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There are more than 700 varieties of cheese in the world. They differ according to country of origin, texture and the kind of milk that is used to make them.

Obviously, people love eating it. And Italian cheeses rank as some of the most famous. Mozzarella, parmesan and ricotta - these should ring a bell even among the non-connoisseurs.

Little wonder then that Italian cuisine, which includes well-loved pastas and pizzas, often features this ingredient.

A low-key but equally traditional Italian creation is bruschetta.

It is basically grilled bread that is flavoured with olive oil, tomatoes and, sometimes, topped with, yes, cheese. Here, you can find it as an appetizer in restaurants, although in different variations, such as served with a mango salsa or even bits of fish.

Unfortunately, full-fat cheese is not ideal if you want to watch your waistline.

One serving (about 30g) of parmesan has around 7g of fat, with a total calorie count of 120. That is equivalent to about seven teaspoons of sugar.

But you do not have to skip the cheese entirely. Go for a reduced-fat version, as Mr Roberto Galetti, executive chef of Italian restaurant Garibaldi, has done in this recipe.

After all, cheese does have its own health benefits - namely, it is a good source of protein and calcium.

Most varieties also contain minerals such as phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B12.

More good news: Those who are lactose-intolerant can still enjoy cheese. In the making of it, the sugar lactose that is found in milk gets turned into lactic acid. Any remaining lactose would then be drained when separating solid cheese curd from the liquid whey.

Mr Galetti also used multigrain bread in this recipe instead of the traditional baguette for an extra fibre boost.

Multigrain bread, as its name suggests, contains a variety of grains. It can be made with a mix of whole grains, such as oat, barley, rye and millet. Or it can be made with refined grains, which is less healthy.

So, if you can, buy a loaf that is made of whole grains, as they help to promote the feeling of fullness, so that you do not overeat.

Whole grain food items also help in blood sugar control, as these products have a lower glycaemic index.

A low glycaemic index means that the carbohydrates in that particular food are digested slowly, so it will not cause a sharp spike in your blood sugar levels.

Popping the bruschetta into the oven gives the bread a crispy finish, softens the acidic tang of tomatoes and also allows the cheese to melt.

Said Mr Galetti: "The melted cheese on top adds an interesting texture and flavour to the classic bruschetta."

 

RECIPE

Bruschetta magherita

(Serves four)

INGREDIENTS

288g (8 slices) multigrain bread

160g or 3 fresh tomatoes

15ml or 1tbs extra virgin olive oil

4 slices (about 60g) of reduced-fat cheese, cut into half

METHOD

Cut the tomatoes into small cubes and season them with olive oil.

Sprinkle the cubes on the bread slices, then cover them with half a slice of cheese.

Bake the slices in the oven for five minutes at 200 deg C, until the cheese has melted. Serve warm.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(Per serving)

Energy: 260kcal

Protein: 13g

Total fat: 2.9g

Saturated fat: 3g

Cholesterol: 8mg

Carbohydrate: 33g

Dietary fibre: 4.5g

Sodium: 361mg

TIPS

1. Grilling or baking, instead of deep-frying, is a great way to create tasty dishes that are healthier and lower in fat.

2. Use unsaturated oil (such as sunflower, canola and olive oil) instead of saturated oils (such as ghee, butter and blended vegetable oil) to reduce your risk of heart disease.

 
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