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Risotto doesn’t have to be a diet deal breaker. This recipe gives a healthy alternative to the traditionally creamy, buttery dish. Adding butternut squash is a fun seasonal approach that lends a touch of sweetness and color. Get fueled for an endurance ride or a chilly trail run with a warm, comforting bowl of risotto. Don’t forget to add some green to your plate with the fresh fig salad.
4 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
1 cup Arborio rice
1 ½ cups low-fat milk
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp shallots, finely chopped
2 cups peeled, chopped butternut squash (¼-½ inch cubes)
2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp agave
½ tsp salt
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, optional
1. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a simmer. Keep warm, but not simmering.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté about 1 minute. Stir in the squash, thyme, pumpkin pie spice, agave and salt; sauté another 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
3. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat with the ingredients. Let the rice toast in the pan, about 1 minute.
4. Stir in ½ cup of the warm broth to the pan. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir consistently, until the broth has been absorbed. Continue to add the broth ½ cup at a time, until 3 cups of broth have been used, constantly stirring until each addition as been absorbed.
5. Add the low-fat milk, ½ cup at a time, and stir until each addition is absorbed. At this point, if the rice is still too hard, add the last cup of broth, ½ cup at a time, until absorbed. The rice will take 30-40 minutes total.
6. Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, if desired.
Fresh Fig Salad
4-6 cups mixed greens or baby greens
½ large pear, diced
2 large figs
¼ cup crumbled bleu cheese
¼ cup toasted pecan pieces
1. Toast the pecans in a small pan over medium heat 6-7 minutes.
2. Remove the ends of the figs. Cut into coins and then cut those pieces in half.
3. Top the greens with the pear, followed by the blue cheese. Arrange the fig pieces over the top, and then sprinkle the pecan pieces over the salad.
4. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Jessica Cerra is the owner of Fit Food by Jess, a private chef and catering company in Encinitas, Calif. She is also a professional Xterra triathlete and mountain biker. Follow Jess’ recipes on her “Fit Food by Jess” Facebook page.