Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fall Whole Grain Risotto

As a dietetic intern at Yale-New Haven Hospital, I have the pleasure of working with Morrison HealthCare. During our latest class session, we were invited to an Oncology Symposium put on my Morrison. It was such a treat to get all dietitians together learning how to better patient care! But, of course, as a blogger and bonafide foodie I was so excited about the chef's demo!

Chef, R.J. Harvey from Morrison walked us through his take on a delicious way of incorporating whole grains into some of your favorite dishes. Here's the thing with whole grains, do you know what they are? Sometimes whole grains can be a mystery! We know we need to eat them... but we may not know why, or where to get our servings from. Let me help you out here.

For starters, whole grains are exactly what they sound like, the entire grain. That means no one or no process, has removed anything edible from the kernel. I'm a visual person so how about a diagram! This one is my absolute favorite from the Whole Grains Council.
 A whole grain has all three parts: Endosperm, Bran, and the Germ. So why as dietitians do we care about you eating whole grains? The three different layers provide the following nutrients:

Endosperm: protein, starchy carbohydrates (energy!!), and some vitamins and minerals.

Bran: When I think of the bran, I automatically think of fiber but the bran also contains important B vitamins and antioxidants.

Germ: The germ contains the bulk of the B-vitamins!

Every flour, cereal, cookie, cake, or pasta was once a whole grain kernel. However, through processing and refinement there are layers taken off to produce the quality and taste of the producer. For example, "white flour/white flour products" such as white bread, regular pasta, all-purpose flour essentially started as a whole grain. During the processing, the bran and germ were removed. This leaves only the starchy endosperm. Although the endosperm is good and contains some vitamins and minerals, the entire kernel has so many additional nutrients!! There's my spiel, I'll get off my soap box now!

Here is a simple list of my favorite whole grains:
—Wheat Berries

Chef Harvey gave us an amazing demo on his trick to adding whole grains to a traditional Risotto dish. Risotto, traditionally made with Arborio rice and loads of cream, is easily recreated to incorporate whole grains and veggies! Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I wanted to make a fall inspired risotto! If you've never had risotto before, I will let you know right now, the key to a great risotto is the cream. But, Chef Harvey had the best trick to make this way healthier. He used a pureed soup blended with some greek yogurt! I'm telling you, the man is a genius.  I made my own interpretation of this blend, but the genius himself should get the credit for spurring this great idea.

2 c. Farro, cooked
13 oz. (1 can) Chickpeas, rinsed
1 tbs. Olive oil
1 tsp. paprika
2 (5 oz. cuts) Chicken Breast, cooked and diced
2 tbs. Olive Oil
1 yellow Onion, diced
1 granny smith Apple, cored and diced
4 Carrot stalks, peeled and chopped
2 c. Kale, chopped
3 tbs. Water
2 tbs. dried Cranberries
2 tbs. unsalted, sliced Almonds
1 15 oz. can Pumpkin
1/4 c. Water
1 tsp. Curry powder
2 tbs. Lemon juice
2 tbs. fresh Thyme

Yields ~ 8 servings (1/2 c.) 

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 deg. F. Cook Farro according to package and set aside. I don't season this while it's cooking, because there are so many flavors going into it later on. Drain and rinse your chickpeas, toss in your olive oil and paprika with the chickpeas and coat evenly. Spread out on a cookie sheet and place in oven for 20 minutes. This will crisp up your chickpeas and add a new depth of texture to your dish! Cook your chicken breast in preferred method. I usually boil mine, again, so many flavors going in here I don't want to overpower or add any extra fat by frying. You can bake your chicken as well too! Once cooked dice it up into cubes and set aside. Meanwhile, in a pot heat up 2 tbs. Olive oil and add diced onions, apple, carrots, kale, add in roasted chickpeas, chicken, and farro. Here you want to add ~ 3 tbs. of water, just to get your Kale cooking! In your blender, combine pumpkin, water, curry powder, lemon juice, and fresh thyme. I used a nutri-bullet and it worked great! Add the puree into your farro + veggies mix. Toss in cranberries and almonds and season with salt/ pepper to taste! Put a lid on the pot, reduce heat to low for ~ 5 minutes just to let everything incorporate together. ~Enjoy!

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