Healthier Risotto

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Vegetable Risotto

Whether it is made with chicken, seafood or vegetables it's hard to resist a creamy rich bowl of risotto. The only drawback is that essentially no matter what the topping risotto is basically a big bowl of rice with lots of empty calories. So instead of the usual Arborio rice, this risotto uses pearl barley for a dish as creamy as traditional risotto, but with a bigger nutritional payoff-fewer calories and more fiber!


• 8 cups canned low- sodium chicken broth

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• 1 small onion, finely chopped

• 10 ounces white mushrooms, finely chopped

• 2 garlic cloves minced

• 1 cup pearl barley

• 2/3 cup dry white wine

• 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

• 2 cups cooked asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces (discard tough ends)

• 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

• Salt and pepper to taste


1. Bring the broth to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan. Keep the broth over very low heat.

2. Add olive oil to a heavy sauce pan and add onion until tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the white mushrooms and garlic, saute until the mushrooms are tender and juices evaporate, about 5 minutes.

4. Stir in the barley and let it toast for a few minutes.

5. Add the wine, cook until liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 2 minutes.

6. Add one cup of hot broth; simmer over medium- low heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 3 minutes.

7. Continue to cook until the barley is just tender and the mixture is creamy, adding more broth by cupfuls and stirring often, about 20 minutes.

8. Stir in the peas and asparagus and mix in the parmesan cheese.

9. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6

Nutritional information, per serving: 277 calories, 6g fat, 37g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 15g protein, 1048mg sodium.

Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a nutritionist and founder of She is also the creator of The F-Factor DietaC/, an innovative nutritional program she has used for more than ten years to provide hundreds of her clients with all the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto