|Barbara & Michael Sedano at their home. They are holding a Güiro which Michael hand carved.|
Reporting from Pasadena, California, with La Bloga co-founder, Michael Sedano and his wife, Barbara. Michael has more talents than we know. First, he is often busy at his computer managing the La Bloga site or posting his Tuesday articles. What you may not know is that Michael plays the piano and, in a corner of his house, his piano is surrounded by various instruments which include Güiros that he makes by hand from bamboo bark. He tells me that the poet, Alurista wrote “Let yourself be sidetracked by your Güiro” (from Alurista’s poem, “Nation, Child, Pluma Roja.” As I’ve discovered, playing the güiro is indeed quite the experience once you let it sidetrack you. (Read what Michael has written about the güiro here.)
And as you know, Michael also enjoys cooking and writing about non-gluten cooking and recipes he's discovered. The day I came to see him, he didn’t cook for me (as he had done during my last visit). Instead he was very excited to take me to “Amara Chocolate & Coffee,” a Venezuelan Restaurant he wrote about last fall (click here for his review). He knew I had made Arepas (a corn-based flatbread) back in Lincoln, Nebraska with the help of my Colombiana student, María Antonia García de la Torre and he wanted me to try Amara’s arepas here in Pasadena. So we headed to Amara's café.
Indeed, the arepas at “Amara Chocolate & Coffee” restaurant were indeed sublime. They served me an arepa stuffed with creamy black beans and non-dairy cheese. I even tried their famous Venezuelan hot chocolate (which I had with almond milk).
|Amelia Montes & Amara Barroeta at "Amara Chocolate & Coffee"|
Amara Barroeta loves what she does. She, along with her husband, Alejandro, have created a sensuous culinary delight in every cup of chocolate, coffee, baked good, or culinary dish they prepare. Amara’s passion and love come through.
|Barbara, Amelia, and Michael at "Amara Chocolate & Coffee"|
Often, when I tell people that I have diabetes, they think that I cannot eat many foods or what they think are “dessert” dishes. They also think that I only eat “sugar free.” I can certainly go to most restaurants and choose foods that are both delicious and that won't suddenly raise my glucose levels. There are ways to do this. Here's how:
First-- a note on the term “Sugar Free.” Sugar is a carbohydrate found in most foods. For many years, we have been tricked into thinking that we should only eat something that is free of sugar (hence the term "sugar free"). But carbohydrates are important to the body. It’s not the carbohydrate (sugar) that is the problem. It’s the “kind” of carbohydrate and the amount of fiber in the particular food that needs to be considered. For example, a cup of raspberries is not at all “sugar free.” It has 15 grams of carbohydrates. However, along with those carbohydrates, one cup of raspberries also contains 8 grams of fiber. When a food has over 5 grams or more of fiber, you subtract the number of fiber grams from the carbohydrates. Eating a cup of raspberries, then, only contains 7 grams of carbohydrates. Its estimated glycemic load is only 3. The lower the glycemic load number, the less it will affect one’s glucose levels in the body. Those of us with Diabetes (type II) always need to keep a low count on our glycemic intake. So what is meant by glycemic load?
The glycemic load measures different kinds of carbohydrates and their impact on the body and blood sugar. The more fiber a food has, the less glycemic load. This is why eating an apple with all the fibrous parts of it included is so much better than drinking apple juice without its fiber. Drinking apple juice (or any "juiced" fruit) is like mainlining sugar into your system. There is no fiber there to slow down its affect on the body. This is why "juicing" is not a good idea for those of us with diabetes, type II.
The University of Sydney has a wonderful website which explains the glycemic load and also includes a web search. Type in any food and it will tell you the glycemic index for that food (click here).
The day I went to "Amara Chocolate & Coffee," I did my usual walking/exercise (which also brings down glucose levels) and I chose foods there carefully. I did not have the sugar encrusted churros (although they looked lovely). Nor did I have any of the other baked sweets. However, I was quite satisfied with the arepa, the delicious creamy black beans, and the almond milk chocolate. It’s all about choices and being knowledgeable about carbohydrates and the glycemic index!
|Amara Barroeta, owner and cook, "Amara Chocolate & Coffee"|
And thank you to Michael and Barbara Sedano for a lovely Venezuelan cafe afternoon in the heart of South Pasadena, California. Abrazos! May you, dear readers, choose your foods well and have a most delicious culinary experience this coming week! And don't forget to "let yourself be sidetracked by your güiro!"