Grains of Health

March 3rd, 2014

#recipes #main entrees #creamy soups #kitchen tips & tricks #vegetarian #gluten-free #lower sodium

Grains of Health Pacific Foods

This month's blogger is Lauren Kelly, a nutritionist, blogger, recipe developer and health enthusiast. Lauren's Blog focuses on better food and better health as a means for better living. In honor of National Nutrition Month, she came up with this tasty risotto for us. Enjoy!


By Lauren Kelly Nutrition


With March being National Nutrition Month, I wanted to share a recipe that is packed with quality ingredients but also tastes delicious.  I really love risotto.  Unfortunately, many risottos are made with arborio rice, which is a short grain white rice.  The difference between brown rice and white rice is that brown rice is the whole grain with just the outer layer removed, leaving a healthy dose of fiber and nutrients. White rice is technically brown rice that has been processed further, removing the other layers, which in turn, removes a great deal of fiber and nutrients.  


For this dish, I chose a sprouted organic brown rice but you can easily use a short-grain brown rice, as well. Sprouted brown rice is basically brown rice that is able to germinate by being soaked prior to cooking. There are many nutritional advantages for sprouting the brown rice, one being that the nutrients become more soluble, thus making them much easier to absorb.  Many studies also indicate that when these grains are sprouted, they produce an amino acid called GABA which has been linked to lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, boosting the immune system and reducing sleeplessness. Grains that aren't sprouted can lead to poor digestion, as well inflammation in the gut.  


I also added quinoa to my risotto to increase the fiber and protein content.  Quinoa is actually a seed but is primarily marketed as a grain due to its nutty texture. It contains all of the essential amino acids, which makes it high in protein. Quinoa is so versatile and adds a boost of nutrition to any dish.  


Kale is a leafy-green powerhouse of nutrition. It is packed with iron, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and many antioxidants and nutrients. I chose to use low-sodium broth and soup, which saves many grams of unwanted and unnecessary sodium.  I strongly believe that we should enjoy everything in moderation.  These Parmesan Crisps add a wonderful, crunchy texture to this dish.  And doesn't everything taste a little better with some cheese?


Apple Kale Risotto with Parmesan Crisps

Makes 8 servings (1 cup servings each)


For Risotto


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 large granny smith apple, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup organic sprouted brown rice (can also use short grain brown rice but it may take less time to cook, check package instructions)
  • 1 ¾ cup Pacific Organic Vegetable Broth Low Sodium
  • 1 ¼ cup Pacific Organic Butternut Squash Soup Light in Sodium
  • 1-3 cups water, however many to reach desired consistency
  • 4 cups organic kale, ends trimmed
  • 2 sage leaves, chopped finely
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts



  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes until they soften.
  2. Add apple, quinoa, rice, broth and soup.  Stir until blended and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, cover and cook for approximately 45 minutes making sure to stir every 10 minutes or so.   Cook until rice is tender and al dente.  While rice is cooking you can prepare Parmesan crisps.
  4. When rice is tender, add chopped kale, stir and cover again for another 5 minutes until kale is wilted.
  5. Top with toasted pine nuts and Parmesan Crisps.  Serve immediately.


For Parmesan Crisps


  • 1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter
  • 6 heaping tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat butter in a large skillet until bubbly.
  2. Spoon the fresh grated cheese onto the butter, pressing down firmly with the back of the spoon, making 6 bite sized crisps. 
  3. After about two minutes, turn over and cook both sides until both sides are golden brown. 
  4. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes to harden.
  5. Remove crisps from the skillet and place on top of risotto.










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