Although I know my dessert recipes are the most popular ones they don’t really reflect my daily diet much, as in, I don’t eat desserts every day, even if they are ‘healthier’ ones. On weekends I like to indulge and the Paleo ‘constraints’ are lifted – I still eat unprocessed foods (that will never change) but I will enjoy some form of rice, maybe even chickpeas, and I always whip up a batch of caramel popcorn for movie night. I guess on the weekend I’m Pegan, primal, and proud of it! One thing I have learned over the years is that restriction doesn’t necessarily mean health as it’s about looking after your brain just as much as your body, in fact, in the past I have sat there worrying about that handful of popcorn or that one piece of white potato I’ve eaten, so much so that it’s resulted in severe anxiety. Now, I take a much more relaxed approach to eating and I can’t think of anything better to indulge in than this super comforting Red Rice Pumpkin Risotto with medicinal mushrooms to help boost the immune system in these cold autumn and winter months.
Don’t throw out those pumpkin guts, make this super delicious and creamy Red Rice Pumpkin Risotto with medicinal mushrooms for a much needed immune boost.
I’m all about reducing waste and if like me you have kids it’s likely that you’re going to be carving up a lot of pumpkins this month. I know it’s tempting, but don’t throw out the guts! Separate out the seeds from the flesh, give them a good rinse, soak overnight then dry and roast in the oven for a delicious snack. Keep the flesh in an airtight container and add it to your meals, make a soup, or cook it until soft and puree. You can add the puree to pumpkin pie and pancake batter to create delicious treats your kiddies will love. The same goes for when your pumpkins are done – be sure to wash thoroughly then peel, cube, and roast! Although I know there will always be one pumpkin that is left on the doorstep until the bitter end – but please do try and compost it, if your little one lets you of course.
I spoke in my last post about the conflicts in the Paleo diet and eating rice, I also explained how to help reduce the phytic acid content to prevent leeching essential vitamins and minerals, so if you’re interested click here to find out more. There are so many amazing ingredients in this delicious risotto but I thought I’d take my favourite 3 and break down the health benefits below:
- Red Rice – Red rice is one of the most antioxidant-rich rice varieties, it’s also low GI meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar like other carb sources. Just one cup of cooked red rice makes up 80% of your RDA for manganese. Manganese helps your body to process fats and proteins. It’s also a great source of essential minerals such as; magnesium, molybdenum, and phosphorus. Just like purple vegetables, it’s high in anthocyanins that help to fight off free-radicals.
- Pumpkin – Pumpkins are high in vitamin A – in just one cup of cooked pumpkin you’ll find 245% of your RDA! It’s also high in vitamin C and the antioxidants; alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. These help to protect your cells against damage by free radicals, just like red rice does. Vitamins A and C are great for boosting the immune system, improving eyesight, and promoting a healthy heart and skin.
- Maitake and Shiitake Mushroom – These powerful medicinal mushrooms have been known to lower cholesterol levels, promote immune fertility, and boost immune function. They’re packed full of B vitamins and vitamin D and plenty of minerals too and also contain phytonutrients that help to stop cells from sticking to blood vessel walls and forming plaque buildup, which maintains a healthy blood pressure and improves your circulation. To top it all off Shiitake mushrooms contain b-glucan, a soluble dietary fibre, that can help increase satiety, meaning you’ll reduce your food intake and so promote weight loss and prevent weight gain.
Red Rice Pumpkin Risotto with Medicinal Mushrooms
Risotto has to be one of my favourite dishes to have in colder weather, I have to say that it actually trumps soup for me. I’ve included a few suggestions in the notes of my recipe so that you can mix it up a little once you get bored of having the same old thing. If you do want to add in additional veggies be sure to cook them first and then stir them in at the end. As the vegetable stock is quite light in flavour I’ve added plenty of onion and garlic, as well as fresh sage. Sage is quite a subtle herb but one of my faves and compliments pumpkin and butternut squash really well. You can add in half at the start and then the other half just in the last few minutes of cooking if you prefer a stronger flavour but I’m a little lazy and just throw it in at the start. Sage is a really tough herb so it is one you can cook at the beginning with rather than stirring in at the end so don’t panic! I’ve also given the option to throw in some of my favourite cheeses but it really isn’t necessary at all for flavour. In fact, sometimes a cheese-free risotto is a much lighter option and depending upon what protein source you are pairing with the dish cheese might not be something you want. I’ve also thrown in some optional toppings which are best made at the start – crispy fried onions and kale which I think add a nice change in texture.
Boot the kids out of the kitchen if you can as you’ll be spending 40 minutes of your life stirring at a hot stove and pouring in stock. This is probably the only time I’d advocate allowing the telly to babysit your children…
Before you start this recipe read it through a few times, get all of your ingredients prepped first and keep them in arms reach. Boot the kids out of the kitchen if you can as you’ll be spending 40 minutes of your life stirring at a hot stove and pouring in stock. This is probably the only time I’d advocate allowing the telly to babysit your children (unless they are super young of course!). Anyway, as always make this recipe your own, change the herbs around if you want (rosemary is lovely), switch up pumpkin for butternut squash or parsnip puree, throw in a nice dry white wine if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, and even a splash of coconut milk when you want something creamy. But most of all just enjoy the experience! Good luck and as always if you get stuck just drop me a message.