Healthy, Creamy Vegetable Risotto

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Risotto is usually a really heavy dish. As delicious as it is, it’s not something that we can eat everyday. Although, with this recipe, by cutting down the oil and replacing the heaps of parmesan cheese and heavy cream, you can still have a creamy risotto; just a little bit lighter. I used Zucchini blossoms and spinach for this recipe, but you can use whatever vegetables you have in your fridge!

Ingredients

  • Arborio Rice
  • Vegetable broth
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • vegetables of your choice!
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • parmesan cheese
  • cream cheese
  • 1 tsp of rosemary
  • 1 tsp of thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

To start off, Finely dice your carrots, celery, garlic and onion. This trio is the basic of any flavour development. It’s crucial for soups, risottos and stews. Once that is prepped, you can chop your other vegetables that you’re using into larger chunks. Since I used Zucchini blossoms and spinach which wilt down very quickly, I added in my vegetables at the very end. If you’re using hardier vegetables like zucchini, squash, broccoli, etc, you can either roast them and add them in at the end or cook them once your trio of celery, carrot, garlic and onion has cooked down a little bit.

Add your olive oil to a high side skillet and cook your carrot, celery, garlic and onion until softened. At this point you can add any other vegetables you’d like to use. To your vegetables, add your thyme and rosemary. While that’s cooking off, in a separate pot, bring your stock to a simmer. For Risotto, you need to gradually add your liquid so that you can gage the perfect texture of the rice. Keeping the liquid hot will help keep the temperature of the dish consistent and won’t slow down cooking. You can use water instead of stock if you would like.

Once everything is soft and almost cooked through, add your rice to the dry pan and let it sit and soak up the excess oil and flavour from the vegetables. Then, gradually add in your stock. A couple ladles of broth at a time is perfect. Wait until the rice has almost absorbed all the liquid and then keep adding more. Keep doing this until the rice is cooked al dente (please don’t let it to turn to mush). If you’re adding spinach or any vegetable that wilts down fast, add them in now.

Turn off the heat and finish off the risotto with a tablespoon of low fat cream cheese. Ricotta is also a good alternative. Also add a tablespoon of parmesan cheese. once the cheese is melted, season with salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe is light and as low fat as you can make a creamy risotto. Also completely Vegetarian! It may not be traditional, but it is definitely Nonna approved!

Oil Free, Vegan Potato and Leek Soup

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This hearty, leek and potato soup is dairy free, oil-free and still delicious! You won’t miss the cream, I promise. This soup is so satisfying and filling, but also guilt free. I made some substitutions to make this soup extra healthy, which I will explain below! My measurements served about 10 large bowls of soup and comes together super quick! This recipe is Vegan but feel free to add anything you want to this! Use this as inspiration and create something that you feel good eating. If that means adding some dairy or some olive oil, you go for it.

Ingredients

  • 6 Leeks
  • 1 large onion
  • 6-7 cloves of garlic
  • 2 large sticks of carrot
  • Half a head of Cauliflower
  • 1 large potato (or 2 small ones)
  • 6-8 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • salt and pepper to taste

The prep for this soup is very simple and pretty much the same as the prep for every soup. Starting with your vegetables, cut up your onion, carrot, and leeks into a fine chop. We’re going to blend the soup at the end so it really doesn’t matter if the cutting isn’t perfect. 6 Leeks may seem like a lot but if you’re making Leek and Potato soup, you want that sweetness of the leeks to come through. Place all your cut up onion, carrot and leeks into a bowl and grab your garlic.

Garlic has so many health benefits. If you haven’t noticed, most of my recipes include a hefty amount of garlic. Garlic is not only detoxifying and great for the inside of your body but its also great for your skin, and for healing scars and blemishes. So, don’t skip on the garlic! Slice your garlic thinly and place in another bowl. We’re going to cook the garlic after the vegetables so don’t mix them.

The last step of prep is the cauliflower and the potatoes. Dice your potatoes into one inch cubes and just roughly cut up your cauliflower. Place that into a separate bowl as well. These are going to be added in after the liquid has been simmering so we don’t want to add this right away. This is what is going to make the soup creamy and thick without the dairy.

To start the soup, Place a large pot with high sides on medium-high heat. Add your carrots, leeks and onion to it and add your 2 cups of water. The water is going to help the vegetables break down and soften. Also, the water will take on the flavours of the vegetables, creating its own quick little stock. You don’t need oil when you’re cooking down vegetables for a soup! The vegetables will infuse the broth with flavour when you’re simmering it, so no need for the extra fat. Once your onions are translucent and your carrots are beginning to become tender, add in your garlic. Garlic only takes about a minute to cook, so stir it around for about 60 seconds then add in your stock. You can use as much vegetable stock as you need. I used about 7 cups for my soup, but if you use 6, your soup will be a thicker. If you use 8, your soup will be thinner. Adjust the broth level depending on what consistency you want your soup to have.

Simmer this on medium-high heat for about 25 minutes to let the flavours get to know each other. Once its been simmering for that long, toss in your potatoes and your cauliflower. I chose to do half potato and half cauliflower because I wanted this soup to be a little lighter and also a little healthier. Adding cauliflower still makes it creamy, but adds a bit more vegetable to this soup. You can add all potatoes if you wish, but I found the cauliflower really did the trick and also made this soup even more guilt free than it already was, which i’m all for!

Cook the soup until the potatoes and cauliflower are breaking down and almost falling apart.

The last step is to blend the soup smooth. This soup, even though lacks the creaminess in colour, makes up for it in the texture. It is both smooth and creamy.

Once your soup is blended, taste for salt and pepper and season to your taste. I find this soup is best with a good helping of black pepper, but if you’re not into that, by all means, put less!

To finish it off, I added some sliced chili on mine because I love the heat, and some scallions for freshness!

It’s great to indulge in food once in a while, but if you can avoid using oils in your food, you should. Oils can be a bad fat if used too sparingly. If you’re looking to lose a few pounds, the first thing to cut down on should be your oil intake. It makes a big difference. Also, whenever you’re making creamy soups, I suggest using the trick of half potatoes and half cauliflower. It keeps the creaminess but is just a tad better for you than using all starchy potato.

I hope you all enjoy this hearty soup, even though it’s not needed in this hot weather!

Shrimp Red Thai Curry with Jasmine Rice

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This recipe is super easy to make and takes half an hour to cook. The sauce cooks while your rice does, and everything comes together at the same time. This is awesome for a hardy, fast, weekday dinner. I used shrimp, but you can use a flaky white fish such as cod, or even chicken if you’d like. Whatever protein you decide to put in, it will turn out delicious either way.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons of Thai red curry paste
  • 1 cup of Coconut Milk (light or full fat)
  • 1 1/2 of Vegetable broth
  • 2 Shallots
  • 5 cloves of Garlic
  • 2 large Carrots
  • 2 cups of Broccoli
  • 2 bell peppers
  • A handful of Cilantro
  • 3 scallions
  • 1/2 tablespoon of avocado oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of Jasmine Rice
  • 1 Lime
  • 2 pounds of frozen shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch

Spices

  • White or black pepper
  • Cumin
  • Salt

Prep

For this recipe, I used carrots, broccoli and bell peppers. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand, but I find this combination works really well. Chop up your vegetables into pieces roughly around the same size. In total you should have about 5-6 cups of vegetables. This may seem like a lot, but the measurements I used were enough to feed about 6 servings, so if use less if you’re making less. Next, finely chop your shallots and garlic and place in a separate bowl than your vegetables. For the Shrimp, if you’re using frozen shrimp, defrost them before using. This recipe is awesome for frozen shrimp and frozen veggies so whatever you have in your freezer, defrost them and toss it in. It will taste good no matter what you put in.

Jasmine Rice

For the rice, I started off by bringing 3 cups of water to a rolling boil on high heat. I added my shallots and garlic to the water and seasoned it with salt. Then, I added a cup and a half of Jasmine rice and put the cover on the pot, lowering my heat to low. Every 5 minutes, give the rice a little stir so that nothing sticks. Jasmine rice takes about 25 minutes to cook, but check your rice for instructions. You can use whatever rice you have on hand, but Jasmine rice is more traditional to serve alongside thai curry.

After your rice is cooked, take it off the heat and let it rest with the lid on for about 5 minutes to let everything soak up and become fluffy. At the very end, before serving, squeeze in the juice of half a lime and taste for salt.

Curry sauce

While the rice is cooking, I started by heating half a tablespoon of avocado oil in a high side skillet. Next, I put 6 tablespoons of the red thai curry paste in the oil to cook it. Red thai curry paste needs to be cooked because it is a purée of vegetables. Red thai curry paste is also quite spicy, so if you’re not into too much spice, I suggest adding a little bit less than I did. Cook the curry paste in the oil for about 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Then add 2 teaspoons of cumin and a teaspoon of white pepper. Once the curry paste smells fragrant, add in your cup and a half of vegetable broth and your cup of coconut milk. I used light coconut milk, but use full fat if you want a creamier texture. Next, Roll your lime on your counter top to release the most juice possible and cut in half. Reserve half for the rice. Squeeze the juice of half a lime into the sauce. Turn the heat up to high and let the sauce cook.   

Once the sauce has cooked for about 10 minutes, add your vegetables. Put the lid on your skillet and let the vegetables steam until the broccoli turns bright green and the carrots are a bit tender but still have a bite to them. I had pre-cooked frozen shrimp that I wanted to use up, so I defrosted those about an hour before using. The whole bag was about 2 pounds. I put the shrimp right in the sauce and put the lid back on, heating them through for about 5 minutes. If your shrimp are still slightly frozen when you put them in, don’t worry, just cook them a little bit longer. To finish off the sauce, in a small bowl, I mixed 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water. I stirred until completely smooth and poured into the curry. Once it comes back up to a boil, your sauce will thicken. This is to give the sauce a thicker consistency and help it stick to the protein and vegetables better. Cook the sauce until the rice is done.

Finishing Up

To tie everything together, I folded in some cilantro into the curry. Then, I served it with some more cilantro on top, as well as scallions. You can also serve this with some lime wedges if you like a little added brightness and acidity to your curry. Use this recipe as a guide and add whatever you have in your freezer! This is a great recipe to be creative with, so use it as inspiration!