Merquén and Rosemary Farinata
Farinata is a traditional Italian appetizer or side dish made of garbanzo bean flour, water, olive oil, and spices, usually rosemary, sea salt, and black pepper. Originating in Genoa, and now commonly found along the Ligurian coast, farinata can be found in pizzerias, bakeries, and sold by street vendors. I just recently stumbled across this simple novelty and am excited to share it today with you. Since it is only made of garbanzo bean flour, it is gluten-free and vegan! With such a simple base, farinata can be embellished to your hearts desire. You can top it with sliced veggies, cheese, prosciutto, whatever. Farinata can almost become a hearty, thick pizza. However, I chose to keep it simple and classy, adding only a touch of my own flare. With the simple flavors, this farinata can be a great addition to a salad, soup, or even just as a snack.
Since garbanzo beans are full of fiber and offer a great amount of plant-based protein, this dish can keep you feeling full and nourished unlike a refined wheat flour alternative. With 5g of dietary fiber for every 18 g of carbohydrates, garbanzo bean flour has an extremely good ratio of grams of carbohydrate to fiber at 3.6:1. Just recently a report from the Harvard School of Public health identified that the American Heart Association recommendation of choosing whole grain products with a minimum 10:1 ratio of carbohydrates to fiber, is the best method in identifying quality whole grain products (1). When utilizing this tool for yourself in the grocery store, simply divide the total grams of carbohydrates by the total grams of dietary fiber. If the result is 10 or less, then you know it is a quality whole grain product! The Institute of Medicine recommends a fiber intake of 25-38 g/day for women and men respectively, or 14g per 1000 calories (2). With 9 out of 10 Americans falling short in consuming dietary fiber, the 10:1 ratio can be a great tool to help identify products that can boost your fiber intake (3).
Why are whole grains so important compared to their refined counterparts? It really boils down to synergy. In whole grains you can find various amounts of nutrients, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and even bioactive components that are important for human health and longevity. However, only together are they strong, working synergistically to provide us health benefits. Multiple epidemiological studies have revealed correlations between greater intakes of whole grain and the reduction in risk of heart disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and obesity (3). Astounding, right?