A slowly simmering al dente rice dish of creamy deliciousness can only describe the one and only Italian specialty, risotto. Traditionally prepared with a high-starch, short grain white rice cooked in stock, with meat, vegetables, or cheese, risotto is an indulgent, heavy, stick-to-your-ribs type of meal. But now this highly decadent dinner is ready for a nutrition makeover. The word risotto is derived from the Italian word for rice, but a similar cooking technique can be used to create what I call, “grainotto” — risotto made with a variety of whole grains.
The benefits of including whole grains in our diets have been widely publicized for years. High fiber whole grains can help fight heart disease, maintain digestive regularity, and provide a plethora of vital vitamins and minerals. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) recommends that at least half of your daily grain intake should be composed of whole grains. The perfect way to boost your intake of whole grains is by swapping white rice in risotto for one of these whole grain superfoods:
Buckwheat: Despite it’s name, buckwheat is one of several gluten-free grains. Full of magnesium, copper, and manganese, buckwheat provides more nutrition than traditional white rice. Additionally, buckwheat contains rutin, an antioxidant that prevents “bad” LDL cholesterol from clogging blood vessels. Satisfying your taste buds and tummy, and helping control blood sugar, whole buckwheat groats are a powerhouse grain you should try in Buckwheat Grainottowith goat cheese tonight!
Bulgar: As a good source of protein and providing over 20% of your daily value of fiber, bulgar packs a nutritious punch for just 150 calories per cooked cup. Swap this nutty and chewy grain to make the perfect Bulgar Grainotto.
Barley: High in manganese, selenium, and thiamin, barley’s pasta-like consistency provides an interesting twist on traditional risotto with plenty of whole grain benefits. Barley’s high soluble fiber content has even been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Here’s a Barley Basil Grainotto with Fresh Asparagus & Corn recipe.
Black rice: This grain may very well become the new brown! Packed with antioxidants, similar to those in blueberries and blackberries that have been shown to fight cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease and various other chronic diseases, this Black Rice Grainotto is a smart choice to protect your health.
Quinoa: Quinoa provides unique nutritious benefits when compared to other whole grains. First, its higher fat content provides additional heart-healthy benefits. Second, quinoa is concentrated with twice the amount of calcium than whole wheat. Third, quinoa has an impressive antioxidant composition, helping reduce inflammation and fight free radicals. This popular grain can be a great white rice substitution in a hearty Mushroom Grainotto.
To find out more about the nutritious rewards of whole grains and how they compare, click here. September was Whole Grains Month but to really reap the benefits of these superfoods – celebrate all year through.
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