THE artisanal GELATO is a privileged one. So far it is the only food that has managed to earn a dedicated day from the European Parliament. It has been held on March 24 for nine years and after a rather unfortunate 2020 edition lockdown, this year many people have been able to enjoy a gelato outdoors, if not in an ice cream parlor, perhaps with take-away or a practical delivery. In 2020, with the ice cream parlors closed for compliance with government provisions and not yet equipped with the home delivery service, a 30% drop in sales was estimated, but during the summer and then with the autumn there was a new and great ascent. Because ice cream pampers and artisanal ice cream is appreciated as a source of curious, original, sometimes daring tastes.
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A peculiarity of the Ice Cream Day it is in fact that of proposing an innovative recipe every year, the protagonist of the ice cream parlors participating in the initiative from 24 March onwards. In the 2021 edition, the ice cream of the year comes from Spain and its name is Mantecado, an ancient vanilla cream flavor with orange sauce and dark chocolate flakes. Vanilla is rich in vanillin, a polyphenol with antioxidant properties, while oranges like all fruit contribute with a generous supply of fiber, mineral salts and vitamins. Cocoa is also a source of good nutrients, even better if dark because it is richer in flavonoids and poorer in sugars and saturated fats. To taste Mantecado, just identify one of the associated ice cream shops on the website of the day (gelato-day.it), this year also supported by the Deliveroo food delivery app, which will contribute to the promotion of taste with its home delivery services.
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The ‘functional’ ice creams
Ma fra i artisanal ice creams the novelty is that of the so-called ‘functional’. They are made of fiber, probiotics, medicinal herbs, spices, even roots. It might look like the ingredients list of a dietary supplement, on the other hand, it is part of the substances and raw materials that find space in the formulation of so-called “functional” artisanal ice creams. Raspberry and datterino, spinach and kiwi, purple carrots and blackberry, barley and oats, just to name a few. Good and in theory also healthy, because, by definition, a functional food must provide the body with substances with beneficial properties. The idea was born in 2014 by the members of the Maestri della Gelateria Italiana association, who that year began to meticulously study the traditional ice cream recipe to reduce sugars by 20% and increase its fiber content. To do this, the ice cream masters relied on the experience of Robert de St, nutrition biologist and technical-scientific consultant of the project. “The European Food Safety Authority says that in order to obtain a functional food the basic matrix must already be nutritionally good”, specifies the expert, “for example, it is useless to try to enrich margarine with antioxidants, because it will remain always and in any case a food with a high content of trans fatty acids “.
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Few calories if with fruit
With ice cream, on the other hand, you can work: despite being sipped in most diets because it is an energy source and a source of sugars, many nutritionists include it in low-calorie diets, especially in summer, or they recommend it during a lunch break, if completed with a vegetable dish. After all, the energy supply of a cone depends on the generosity of the ice cream maker: on average a two-flavor ice cream with classic creams brings about 200-250 calories, while one with fruit is about 150. But beyond sugars and calories it can also be a source of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins. “The first objective was to reduce the glycemic load of ice cream by reducing sugars by 20%, as also requested by the Ministry of Health after the agreements of Expo 2015 – continues De Sanctis. – sugars, however, they have a fundamental technological role because they are anti-freeze and make the ice cream creamy, so the vacuum left must be replaced with substances that give consistency to the product. We have used vegetable fibers, such as bamboo or citrus fruits, consequently increasing the content in the ice cream “.
Once the basic matrix had been improved, functional ingredients entered the scene, which with their contribution of good nutrients made it possible to brand some flavors with health claims. “In the second part of the project I tried to understand which nutritional declaration could be reached more easily. And, once the most suitable raw material was identified, I indicated the right quantities to the master gelato makers, who had the task of making the taste creamy. and balanced in flavor “says the nutritionist. This is how ice creams with the desired qualities were born: sources of fiber, iron, designed to facilitate the reduction of glycemic load, cholesterol, even to help strengthen the immune system or contribute to the intake of Omega 3.
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“The datterino-raspberry taste, for example, has earned the claim ‘source of fiber’ because both ingredients contain it in abundance, the first in the peel, the second in the seeds. The combination of barley and oats, on the other hand, is suitable to those who must be careful about cholesterol due to its beta-glucan content, while in 2015 we created various flavors based on legumes, such as cannellini beans and vanilla, almonds and lentils, chickpeas and cocoa. An ideal ice cream for vegetarian consumers in search of proteins vegetables, but also for those who have to keep blood sugar under control thanks to the transformation of starch from legumes into fiber during creaming. ”Each master ice cream maker has adopted the nutritional teachings of the project and has created personalized flavors. Candida Pelizzoli, president of the association, he has created, for example, the functional ice cream with spinach and kiwi, which for the action of vitamin C on the absorption of iron has earned the claim “source of iron”. “None of the ingredients chosen is used as an extract – explains Pelizzoli – the raw material is always processed whole and then blended to create a syrup that is blended into the ice cream formulation. And so we get our creams. In addition to spinach and kiwi, I made also purple carrots and blackberries, a source of vitamin A, peach and saffron or turmeric root and peach, both sources of fiber “.
Ice cream is good for your health
Over the years the idea of ice cream that is good for you has gone beyond the association of artisans and many have been busy with the reformulation of tastes from a health perspective. On the Gargano, in Peschici, Mr. Michel Draicchio’s ice cream parlor, already awarded as an excellence, has been preparing functional ice creams for a couple of years thanks to a careful selection of local raw materials: “We enrich the nutritional profile ice cream with organic products, such as saffron, or with fermented fruit, such as our peach and apricot based flavor. Furthermore, we use sugar alcohols instead of white sugar to obtain a lower glycemic index and suitable for those who are diabetic or are following a diet. “The same purpose is achieved by the ice cream maker Nicola Salvi with whole coconut sugar instead of sucrose. Salvi , in its ice cream parlors in Rome and Milan, uses only raw, vegetable, natural and organic raw materials. “Among the tastes that we define functional there is the one based on peanuts, dried fruit particularly rich in proteins, and one with pistachio, turmeric and goji berries, ingredients rich in antioxidants “. Functional ice cream offers itself as a healthy alternative in the dessert menu, but, concludes De Sanctis,” I would still invite you to consider it as an important source of sugars, especially if a person has to be careful because you are on a diet or diabetic “.
Basic ingredients of homemade ice cream:
Milk; cream; vegetable fats; sugar; sometimes eggs. To complete, various traditional ingredients: coffee, cocoa, fruit, nuts and spices
Examples of functional tastes:
1) Spinach and kiwi – source of iron
2) Datterino and raspberry – source of fiber
3) Purple carrots and blackberries – source of vitamin A
4) Barley and oats – source of beta-glucans which are good for cholesterol levels
5) Cannellini beans and vanilla – low glycemic index
The nutrients of ice cream:
Water – the percentage of water supplied varies from about 35 to 70%, an aspect that makes ice cream a useful food also for those who play sports and must replenish the loss of liquids due to sweat
Proteins – all of which are of high biological value and mainly supplied from milk, cream, eggs and dried fruit
Fats – derived from milk, cream and eggs; polyunsaturated fats are also present in ice creams with dried fruit
Sugars – in addition to any added sugar, in cream-based ice creams and? lactose is present, while in fruit ice creams we find fructose
Micronutrients – in ice cream there are also vitamins and mineral salts: vitamins A, C and E (from fruit, even dried fruit), potassium (strongly present in bananas), vitamins of group B (eggs), calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D (in milk and cream). Ingredients like cocoa and coffee? they also provide specific antioxidants (such as flavonoids)
Fiber and friends – fibers are nutrients provided by nuts while starches are found in any waffles and biscuits