Orzo Ri sotto w ith Mush­rooms & Sw i ss Chard

Better Nutrition - - NATURAL BEAUTY -

Serves 6 This smooth and creamy dish fea­tures clas­sic Mediter­ranean fla­vors from olive oil, gar­lic, veg­gies, pasta, and cheese. 4 Tbs. olive oil, di­vided 1 lb. white mush­rooms, sliced 1 tsp. gar­lic, minced 1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed

and chopped ( 10– 12 cups) ¼ cup shal­lots, minced 2 cups dry orzo pasta ½ cup dry white wine 3 ½ cups warmed low- sodium chicken

broth, di­vided ½ cup Parme­san cheese 2 Tbs. un­salted but­ter 1 Tbs. minced fresh sage Kosher salt and black pep­per to taste 1. Add 2 Tbs. olive oil to medium pan over medium heat. Sauté mush­rooms un­til soft, and most of their liq­uid is evap­o­rated. Add gar­lic, and sauté 1 minute more. Trans­fer to bowl, and set aside.

2. Blanch chard in boil­ing wa­ter, 1 minute. Drain and plunge into ice wa­ter to stop cook­ing. Squeeze out ex­cess mois­ture, and set aside.

3. In pan from mush­rooms, sauté shal­lots in 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat un­til soft­ened. Add orzo, and con­tinue cook­ing un­til pasta browns lightly. Add wine, and scrape up brown bits from bot­tom of pan.

4. Add 1 ½ cups of warmed chicken broth, and stir well. Con­tinue cook­ing 10 min­utes, add 1 cup of warmed broth, and cook 5 min­utes more. Add re­main­ing broth, and taste orzo for done­ness. Stir in mush­rooms and chard, and add Parme­san, but­ter, sage, salt, and pep­per.

Per serv­ing: 410 cal; 15g prot; 16g to­tal fat ( 5g sat fat); 50g carb; 15mg chol; 300mg sod; 4g fiber; 4g su­gar


Eat­ing dairy has been shown to re­duce the risk of di­a­betes, meta­bolic syn­drome, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, and obe­sity. But we’re not talk­ing about adding heavy lay­ers of pro­cessed cheese to sand­wiches and pasta: the tra­di­tional Mediter­ranean diet in­cluded cheese and yo­gurt from pas­tured sheep and goats, in rea­son­able amounts. To get your cheese on mind­fully:

❱ Use Greek yo­gurt mixed with herbs and gar­lic in­stead of may­on­naise or salad dress­ing. ❱ Add fl avor­ful feta, Parme­san, or ri­cotta salata cheese to sal­ads and sand­wiches. ❱ Top casseroles, cooked veg­eta­bles, or frit­tatas with shaved Asi­ago or Manchego cheese.


The tra­di­tional Mediter­ranean diet in­cludes lots of gar­lic and herbs, with less re­liance on salt than the typ­i­cal Amer­i­can diet. Gar­lic is rich in com­pounds that lower choles­terol, sup­port healthy im­mune func­tion, and may pro­tect against cancer. And herbs are high in an­tiox­i­dants and other chem­i­cals; pars­ley, for ex­am­ple, con­tains phe­no­lic com­pounds and fl avonoids that have been shown to have an­tibac­te­rial, anal­gesic, brain pro­tec­tive, and other benefi ts. To savor gar­lic and herbs:

❱ Com­bine gar­lic pow­der, onion pow­der, pep­per, and dried herbs in a shaker, and use in­stead of salt. ❱ Roast whole heads of gar­lic and spread on bread in­stead of but­ter or oil. ❱ Add hand­fuls of basil and pars­ley to sal­ads; stir minced herbs into soups and sauces; and gar­nish your meals lib­er­ally with chives or mint.


The tra­di­tional diet of the Mediter­ranean coast didn’t in­clude a lot of meat, of­ten for re­li­gious rea­sons. Ad­di­tion­ally, the meat used was pas­ture- raised and grass- fed, and thus higher in omega- 3 fats and con­ju­gated linoleic acid ( CLA), a com­pound that may re­duce body fat, sup­port im­mune func­tion, and pro­tect against car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases and cancer. Treat meat like a condi­ment, and eat only lean, or­ganic, pas­ture- raised and/ or grass- fed ver­sions. Some more meaty sug­ges­tions:

❱ Make legumes your main source of pro­tein, and sea­son them with small amounts of lamb cubes. ❱ Sauté strips of chicken with lots of veg­eta­bles, gar­lic, herbs, and olive oil. ❱ Layer a small por­tion of thinly sliced beef over a salad of arugula, spinach, and pars­ley, and sprin­kle with feta cheese.


It’s re­ally okay: it’s made from a kind of wheat called du­rum that’s more slowly ab­sorbed and is less likely to cause blood su­gar spikes. Com­bin­ing pasta with olive oil and high- fi ber veg­eta­bles fur­ther slows ab­sorp­tion. Choose whole- grain ver­sions ( if you’re gluten- free, look for pasta made with legumes), skip the fatty cream sauces and hand­fuls of shred­ded cheese, and do your pasta the Mediter­ranean way:

❱ Toss lin­guini with olives, toma­toes, clams or shrimp, olive oil, and hand­fuls of basil and baby spinach. ❱ Purée white beans with gar­lic and olive oil, and toss with fusilli and green peas. ❱ Layer penne pasta with egg­plant, zuc­chini, mush­rooms, onions, and to­mato sauce; sprin­kle with cheese and bake as a casse­role.


Fast food was un­heard of in tra­di­tional Mediter­ranean di­ets; so was eat­ing alone, in the car, or at the com­puter. Typ­i­cally, a home- cooked meal was shared with friends, eaten slowly, and en­joyed with a glass of wine— stud­ies show that mod­er­ate con­sump­tion of red wine pro­tects against car­dio­vas­cu­lar and other dis­eases. And this re­laxed, stress- free way of eat­ing may be as re­spon­si­ble for the health benefi ts of the Mediter­ranean diet as the food it­self. To make your meals more so­cial:

❱ Learn to cook a few ba­sics: a veg­etable frit­tata, a bean and veg­etable stew, or a pasta and veg­etable casse­role are easy ways to make share­able meals. ❱ In­vite friends over. Share a bot­tle of wine and re­lax with con­ver­sa­tion. ❱ If you must eat alone, en­joy it. Sit at the ta­ble, turn off the tele­vi­sion or com­puter, eat slowly, and savor ev­ery mouthful.

Lisa Turner is a chef, food writer, prod­uct de­vel­oper, and nu­tri­tion coach in Boul­der, Colo. She has more than 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in re­search­ing and writ­ing about clean, nour­ish­ing foods, and coach­ing peo­ple to­ward health­ier eat­ing habits. Find her at lisat­urn­er­cooks. com.

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