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Simply Food: Risotto with Spinach and Peas

December 31, 2013
By Wendy Monro , The Journal

I don't know about everyone else but I am in desperate need to shed a few pounds because of my holiday gorging and not getting to the gym at all. I am pretty certain that there are other people out there who are in the same boat. I am not going to tell you how much weight I gained over the holidays. I will say it is enough to make me cringe. It all happened so fast. It only took one month of poor eating, well rich eating actually, to gain lots of pounds. I enjoyed so many scrumptious dinners with buttery sauces and yummy breakfasts with lots of eggs and cheese. Everywhere we went I ran into a cheese platter that needed to be devoured. I had no choice, right? I didn't want to be rude or wasteful.

Last night, my cousin Alex took us out to dinner and one of the side dishes was a bowl of burrata cheese. This is the most delicious cheese ever. It's super creamy. The chef drizzled olive oil over it. So, I ate a bowl of cheese in oil. Is there anything more fattening than this? I don't think so. I will say that it was worth every creamy delicious bite. I loved it. This morning, I woke up to find I gained another pound. I wasn't surprised. That bowl of cheese was the last straw.

I didn't even know I was gaining so much weight until a day or so ago. Before I knew it, my jeans were cutting off the circulation around my waist and my muffin top reappeared. I hadn't seen that thing in a long time and I didn't miss it at all. I made an executive decision to reevaluate the way I am eating, again. I will not gain another pound. This extra weight is going away. The timing couldn't be more perfect with the New Year approaching. I have a goal weight and I will achieve it. This is my resolution.

Article Photos

Risotto with Spinach and Peas.

Luckily, I have some excellent books to help me with this quest. I received a few cookbooks this Christmas. My friends know me pretty well. I usually get wine or cookbooks for Christmas. This year, one of my neighbors bought me some new spices to try. Am I that obvious? I really do love cookbooks. One of the books I received this year covers only recipes for vegetables, another is all about how food is medicine, and the third is Gwyneth Paltrow's latest book. Gwyneth Paltrow always has low fat healthy recipes. In fact, her book inspired the recipe I have included in this article. I decided on a rice dish because I read that rice is one of the easiest grains to digest and I thought this would be a good start to my new routine.

Usually risotto is creamy with butter and cheeses. My favorite version is with mushrooms and cream. I don't think that kind of risotto would be a good idea for my new plan to lose this extra weight. This recipe is light and healthy with no cheese or butter added. You could take this a step further and skip the olive oil too. There is a way to saut vegetables with a little bit of added water instead of oil. I went ahead and used olive oil this time. I also added spinach and peas for extra nutrition as well as thyme and basil for lots of flavor. I have found that eating healthy does not have to be bland or boring.

I also enjoy learning about how each piece of the recipe adds nutrients for your body.

Fact Box

Risotto with spinach and peas

Serves: six

Time: 45 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

4 scallions, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons thyme leaves

2 cups Arborio rice

4 cups vegetable stock

juice of one lemon

zest of one lemon

3 cups spinach

2 cups peas, frozen

cup basil, cut into ribbons

salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the diced onions and the scallions. Cook for about ten minutes, until clear. Add garlic and thyme. Cook for about five minutes more. Add the Arborio rice and let it heat up for about five minutes. Slowly ladle in the stock. Allow it to absorb into the rice while you stir. Keep adding stock until it is completely absorbed. This will take about twenty minutes. Add the lemon juice and zest, the spinach and the peas. Fold this all in. Mix in the basil. Add salt and pepper and serve.

For example, thyme's original Greek name meant both "strength" and "cleansing". Adding herbs to your dishes is a great way to increase flavor and nutrients.

If you add tons of herbs and spices to make a dish really flavorful, you won't miss the fat. It is better to not feel like you are torturing yourself by feeling deprived. Instead, create delicious dishes that you would like to eat and the bonus is that there are very few calories and very little fat. Before the holidays, I was doing a really good job of eating like this all of the time and my weight stayed right where I wanted it to be. I stopped using oil in my salad dressings and made lots of delicious salads for breakfast and lunch. I snacked on kale chips and nuts. I felt great eating this way. I am pretty excited to get back to it. My energy level soars when I am eating right and exercising regularly. Having extra energy and fitting into my clothes helps to make me a happy person. Wish me luck and have a Happy New Year.



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