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Wholesome patisserie, sweet fantasy
There is a patisserie that satisfies your cravings for sweets in a completely wholesome way. Tasty and luscious as traditional patisserie, it exclusively consists of healthy ingredients.
How to prepare a healthy yet delicious sweet like those of traditional patisserie? And why some ingredients should be replaced? How harmful are they? According to Franco Berrino, physician, epidemiologist and director of the Department of Preventive and Predictive Medicine at the National Institute of Tumours of Milan “our diet is too rich in sugars and refined food. 00 flour can be considered even more harmful than sugar: it rapidly increases glycemic levels, and hence, even the amount of insulin in the blood, which, in its turn, increases the level of growth factors that determine most tumours. Insulin spikes foster obesity because they lead to hypoglycemia and push us to eat more. So, the more we eat sugars, the more we crave for them”.
“The only real precept of natural patisserie – says Giovanni Allegro, cook of the Institute of tumours and expert of natural patisserie – is that of replacing white sugar and refined flour with alternative healthier ingredients. It is also possible to eliminate eggs, milk, butter, i.e. all those animal-derived proteins in which our diet is already rich enough (and whose excess can foster heart conditions, obesity, osteoporosis): in case of allergies, intolerances or when a particular diet requires it, it is essential to eliminate them. It is also true that if you follow a balanced diet without too much protein, these ingredients can be used, making sure you don’t abuse them”.
“Sweets of natural patisserie are different from those of traditional patisserie. First of all they are less magnificent – Allegro continues. This because in natural patisserie additives and binders are the ingredients responsible for a number of special effects in modern patisserie”.
The recipes of many traditional sweets are not even taken into consideration in natural patisserie, because the ingredients used are too rich and with a calorie count, frankly, too exaggerated, that exceeds by half the calories included in natural sweets: sponge, for example, is prepared only with many eggs. Too much eggs. It can be a basis for a Christmas sweet, but not for daily recipes, because for them it is necessary to combine flavour and health.
By using exclusively natural ingredients, we put an “x” to the word sugar, because it isn’t a natural food product. How to replace it? With sultanas and dried figs, as people did in the past. Or with honey, maple syrup, non-refined cane sugar (such as panela). The best substitute ingredient, however, – says Giovanni Allegro – is (rice, barley, wheat or corn) malt, an excellent cereal for health and taste.
Removing sugar sometimes means decreasing the magnificence of a sweet. There are sweets, such as blancmange for example (from French “blanc” and “manger”, literally white food) that are made of almonds, starch, agar as well as malt, which gives the sweet a brownish colour, so that the sweet is not white anymore, but the flavour is still scrumptious.
Instead of 00 flour, the wholesome patisserie uses semi-whole flour and whole flour. It is possible to avoid using butter, in favour of cold-pressed oils, chopped hazelnuts or tahini, a sesame seed paste. Replacing eggs is more difficult, but let’s not forget that in many recipes, they are unnecessary: our muffins, those prepared at the Institute of tumours, don’t contain eggs and they are as flavoury as those made with eggs. Those two patisseries have one thing in common: the use of a scale. When the recipe is good, the proportion between all the ingredients is mathematically right. So, every time you discover a recipe that suits you, write down with great care the ingredients, the doses, the preparation details, to repeat again and again the magic of your wholesome sweet”.
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