Brown Rice Pumpkin Risotto with Mushrooms, Zucchini and Spinach

Brown Rice Pumpkin Risotto with Mushrooms, Zucchini and Spinach

Creamy brown rice risotto is possible, but you have to know the secret…  Parboiling.

Parboiled brown rice for Brown Rice Pumpkin Risotto with Mushrooms, Zucchini and Spinach

^^ parboiled rice

Basically, the trick is to boil the brown rice for 15 minutes before you begin the recipe. This gives the rice a nice head start. After all, it has a long way to go to get from nutty and chewy to tender and creamy. Don’t be fooled, risotto is still a sweat-inducing labor of love! But if you have ever wanted a healthy whole grain version (and I hope you have!), it is actually quite easier than you think.

Staying true to the season, pumpkin is the star here. Not only does it give this recipe a punch of autumn goodness, it also lends a velvety, milky texture to the risotto. I used a can, but feel free to use a fresh pumpkin and puree it yourself! As for the veggies, the mushrooms and spinach were a no-brainer, but the zucchini was a fun little addition that I threw in after coming across this recipe. After all, when it comes to vegetables, the more the merrier.

This recipe is hearty, healthy, and completely filling! For a little protein boost, I recommend topping with a poached egg (6g protein), or serving alongside a simply prepared fillet of fish, such as sole (11g protein for a 3 oz fillet), or a rotisserie chicken (23g protein for 3 oz of chicken breast).

Brown Rice Pumpkin Risotto with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Zucchini

Brown Rice Pumpkin Risotto with Mushrooms, Zucchini and Spinach

(Inspired by this pumpkin risotto & this zucchini risotto)

Serves 4 (makes 6 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
  • 4 cups (32 oz) low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 10 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree (or 1 1/2 cup pureed, cooked pumpkin)
  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups tightly packed baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, for topping

Method:

  1. In a small pot, bring the rice and 3-4 cups of water to a boil. Let boil for 15 minutes, then drain off any excess water and set aside.
  2. In a small pot, heat the broth until it is hot, but not boiling, then reduce to a simmer.
  3. In a medium or large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms, and cook until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the parboiled rice and stir for about 1 minute to coat with oil.
  5. Add the wine, and stir continuously until the liquid has absorbed and the wine has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add 1/3 cup of the warm broth the rice mixture, and stir continuously until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process several times, until the mixture becomes creamy, and nearly all of the broth has been used. Periodically taste the rice to check the texture. If hard and undercooked, continue adding broth. (Note- this entire step took me 35 minutes, and I used all 4 cups of broth. If 4 cups is not enough, add water.)
  7. Once the broth has been absorbed, add the pumpkin, zucchini, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir to combine, then continue stirring until the mixture has thickened up a bit and reached a desired texture, about 5-10 minutes depending on preference.
  8. Add the chopped spinach, and stir until spinach has wilted, 1-2 minutes.
  9. Remove risotto from heat, divide into 4 bowls, then top each bowl with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese.

Brown Rice Pumpkin Risotto with Mushrooms, Zucchini and Spinach

Serves 4 (makes 6 cups)

Serving size: 1 1/2 cups

Nutrition: 290 calories, 6g fat (1.5g saturated fat), 48g carbohydrates (5g sugar, 5g fiber), 11g protein, 120mg sodium, 0g cholesterol, 10% calcium, 16% iron, 23% vitamin C, 211% vitamin A

– Kelly

16 Healthy Halloween Snacks From Around The Web

Happy October, everyone!

Just because Halloween is one of the most diet-busting holidays on the calendar, doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for nutrition. So I scoured the web for the best healthy Halloween snacks, including fruit and veggie platters, as well as heartier fare. The snacks pictured below keep the Halloween spirit alive, without sacrificing nutrition. Enjoy!

witchbrooms

1) Witch brooms made from pretzels & string cheese, Image via Concinada con Catman

hallofruit

2) Banana ghosts and clementine pumpkins. I love this! Image via Pinterest, original source unknown

allrecipesappleteeth

3) Apple teeth with slivered almonds, via Allrecipes.com

vegskel

4) Veggie skeleton, image via feeding four little monkeys

spookyyogurt

5) Ghost inspired fruit & yogurt, image via Lisa Storms

smoothie

6) Jack-O-Lantern Smoothie, image via See Vanessa Craft. Note- for a healthy orange smoothie recipe, I recommend this carrot-apple-banana smoothie or this peach pie oatmeal smoothie.

carrothummus1

7) Hummus with carrot fingers. Image via Pinterest, original source unknown.

hummuscarrot2

8) Hummus with carrot & parsley pumpkins. Image via Parents.com

spider deviled eggs

9) Deviled eggs with olive spiders, image via Sunset

pumpkinegg

10) Pumpkin deviled eggs, image via Foodista

mummydip

11) Mummy dip with green veggies, image via hostess with the mostess

plumspider

12) Plum + grape spider, image via Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons

pumpkindip

13) Adorable veggie platter presentation! Image via Pinterest, original source unknown

cck

14) Fruity Jack-O-Lanterns, image via Chocolate Covered Katie

easy

15) Easy Jack-O-Lantern Oranges, image via Under Construction blog

fruitcup

16) Fruit cup Jack-O-Lanterns, image via Pimp My Dinner

For more Halloween food inspiration (yes- there’s more!), see my Pinterest board. Wondering what dips to serve with fruit and veggie platters? See my picks for healthy dips here.

Happy Halloween!

– Kelly

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal

[UPDATED ON 1-18-2015 WITH NEW PHOTOS & UPDATED RECIPE]

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal, with Fresh Cranberries and Pecans

After having so much success making this delicious Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal in the slow cooker, I decided to tweak the recipe and create an overnight pumpkin steel cut oatmeal. Fresh cranberries and chopped pecans round out the fall flavors.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal, with Fresh Cranberries and Pecans

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup 100% pure pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1 cup milk (I used organic nonfat milk)
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup uncooked steel cut oats
  • 2/3 cup fresh (or frozen) cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Method

  1. Coat inside of slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Pour water, spices, maple syrup, vanilla, flax and pumpkin into a separate bowl and whisk until combined.
  3. Pour pumpkin mixture and oats into the slow cooker and stir to combine. Then, evenly sprinkle cranberries and pecan pieces on top.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 4.5 to 5 hours. I use a programmable slow cooker so that I can get more than five hours of sleep and still wake up to warm oatmeal. Once the oatmeal is done cooking, the slow cooker holds the food warm.
  5. Divide into 4 bowls and serve immediately, or put leftover servings into the fridge for later. Sometimes I like to stir in a few tablespoons of milk upon serving to produce a more creamy oatmeal. To reheat individual servings, add about ¼ cup of water and microwave on high for about 1 ½ minutes. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal, with Fresh Cranberries and Pecans

Nutrition per serving: 350 calories, 11g fat (1g saturated fat), 52g carbohydrates (10g fiber, 16g sugar*), 12g protein, 30mg sodium, 193% Vitamin A, 8% Vitamin C, 16% Calcium, 18% Iron

*9g added sugars (2 1/4 teaspoons) from the Maple syrup

-Kelly