Curried Kabocha Squash and Celeriac Soup

March started out on an arctic foot. Freezing temperatures, icy sidewalks, and a wintry mix welcomed us to this transitory month where winter and spring face off creating job security for meteorologists and sidewalk umbrella vendors alike.

If you’re still in hibernation mode like me you’re going to love this warming soup recipe. It’s simple to make but layered with complex flavors that take it beyond your average creamy vegetable soup. It’s light enough to be an appetizer but works just as well as a main when paired with a hefty hunk of good sourdough bread and a side salad.

 MOARfit Kabocha and Celeriac Soup

Much of the subtle complexity of this soup comes from the star ingredient: kabocha squash. Kabocha squash is a type of Japanese squash with a sweet flavor akin to butternut squash, though it looks more like a small, green pumpkin. It has only 2/3 the calories of butternut squash per serving and is packed with beta-carotene which our bodies convert into Vitamin A and is essential for healthy white blood cells, a strong immune system, and good vision. Combined with antioxidant-rich curry leaves, which also deliver a rich, savory meets spicy meats sweet flavor, kabocha squash will help warm your body and keep seasonal sickness at bay.

MOARfit Kabocha Squash and Celeriac Root

Curried Kabocha Squash and Celeriac Soup


  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, thin slices
  • 2-3 Tbs Sherry Cooking Wine
  • 1/2 Celeriac Root (~1 1/2 cups), peeled and chopped
  • 1 Kabocha Squash (~2 1/2 cups), peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 – 2 Tbs Muchi Curry Powder
  • 1 Tbs Dried Oregano
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 4 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Tbs Ghee (or Butter)
  • 1 Cup Low-Fat Milk


  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add olive oil, turn down to medium and sauté onions and garlic until onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant but not burnt (approximately 5-7 minutes).
  2. Deglaze bottom of pan with sherry.
  3. Add chopped celeriac root and kabocha squash, curry, oregano, salt and pepper. Toss in onion garlic until evenly combined.
  4. Add chicken stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer until a fork easily pierces the squash and celeriac but they aren’t falling apart (approximately 15 minutes).
  5. Remove from heat. Add ghee and milk. Stir until combined.
  6. Using an emersion blender while still hot (or standing blender once slightly cooled) puree soup mixture until smooth.
  7. Taste for salt, spice, and acid balance. Add a little more salt and pepper, a hit of your favorite spice, or a touch more sherry if need be.
  8. Enjoy!

Note: If you want to make this vegan, simply exchange butter for coconut oil and cow’s milk for coconut milk.

Coconut Cauliflower Soup with Fried Capers and Dill Oil

As you may have noticed from some of my more recent posts, winter weather means big batches of vegetarian soup for this kid. When temperatures drop, not only do I crave comfort foods that warm you from the inside out but I’m also more inclined to be content spending a couple of hours prepping and cooking a homemade meal.

Like many of my readers, I’m big on making a Sunday supper that sets you up with easy leftovers for the week ahead. Last weekend, I made a Coconut Cauliflower Soup and enjoyed its sweet, creamy goodness all week for lunch with a little Ezekiel bread toasted on the side. Though cauliflower’s pale hue doesn’t exactly scream antioxidants like blueberries and pomegranate seeds might, it’s packed with a potent one–vitamin C. The C-monster not only helps fight off the common cold and flu but is also essential for the growth and repair of tissues in the body. It’s a major building block of collagen–a protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. Cauliflower also contains high levels of potassium, fiber, folic acid and a sulfur compound (called isothiocyanate), which helps prevent certain diseases.

Coconut Cauliflower Soup with Fried Capers and Dill Oil

Coconut Cauliflower Soup with Fried Capers and Dill Oil

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbs ghee
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 15-oz can of coconut
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

(For the Fried Capers)

  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 Tbs olive oil

(For the Dill Oil)

  • 3-4 Tbs fresh dill
  • 3-4 Tbs olive oil

How to Make It:

  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add ghee (featured in last week’s Potato Leek Soup recipe), then add onions with a pinch of sea salt. Cook until softened and slightly translucent (about 5 min). Add in cardamon and stir another minute or two. Add your chopped cauliflower, vegetable stock and water, then cover and cook for about 20 min or until the cauliflower is soft when prodded with a fork.
  2. While your cauliflower is cooking, make the dill oil. Combine the dill and olive oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. To fry the capers, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add your olive oil. Dry your capers completely, using paper towels, then add them to your pan and toss them around for 1-2 min until crispy and lightly browned. Set aside to drain on a paper towel.
  3. Once your cauliflower is cooked, remove mixture from heat and add it to your blender (you may have to blend it in two batches depending on the capacity of your blender). Puree until smooth. Once smooth, add your now creamy mixture back to the pot.
  4. Over low heat, add in your coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Adjust for salt and pepper and serve with a garnish of fried capers (1 Tbs will do) and drizzle of dill oil.

[Adapted from How Sweet Eats]

Pumpkin Spice Granola

I really thought my pumpkin obsession had subsided after eating one too many pumpkin-shaped Reese’s peanut butter cups on Halloween. I was truly convinced I’d moved on following my back-to-back pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin smoothie recipes. I was cured of my fixation–was until I caved and had an almond milk PSL (that’s a pumpkin spice latte for those of you haven’t been to a coffee shop in the last 6 weeks) this weekend. The flame was reignited and the inspiration instantly came to me–I would create my very own PSG (that’s Pumpkin Spice Granola), which it turns out was even better than that PSL.

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You’ve heard me rave about the nutritional powerhouse that is pumpkin, so I won’t inundate you with all those fun facts again. Okay well maybe just one sentence to reenforce this gorgeous gourd’s health profile. Pumpkin is packed with fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and a few grams of plant protein, and at only 50 calories per serving is a perfect balance to all that Halloween candy you’ve been eating (guilty as charged).

Without further ado, it’s PSG time!


Pumpkin Spice Granola

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (liquid or melted)
  • 3/4 cup (or half a 15 ounce can) pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean scraped
  • 1 Tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 inch ground fresh ginger
  • Optional: 1 cup dried blueberries, chopped dates or tart cherries

How to Make It:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats and raw pumpkin seeds.
  3. In a blender, blend together the coconut oil, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves until smooth.
  4. Pour blender mixture over your dry ingredients and stir until evenly coated
  5. Spread the mixture on a lipped baking sheet, pressing it down to evenly cover all the way to the edges.
  6. Bake for 1 hour, gently turning the granola with a spatula every 15 minutes. Flip in sections so that you’re sure to keep some tasty clumps. Also make sure you move some of the granola from the edges to the middle and from the middle to the edges about halfway through cooking so that it cooks evenly.
  7. After an hour, turn the oven down to 300°F and cook another 15 -25 minutes. You’ll know it is done when it is dry to the touch and piece left to cool on the counter turns crispy. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
  8. If you’re adding dried blueberries or cherries, stir them in while the mix is still cooling.
  9. Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

Dairy-Free Banana Bread Muffins

If you liked my Banana Bran Muffins and Blueberry Banana Muffins, you’ll definitely dig my healthy Banana Bread Muffins. Like both of those recipes, this one is made dairy-free by using banana, vegan butter, rice milk and apple sauce. They are soft, moist and a much healthier alternative to most bakery muffins which can pack a serious caloric punch at an average of 450 calories a pop. My version come in at under half that number.


Above being waistline-friendly, these muffins feature folate-full garbanzo bean flour, potassium-packed bananas and nature’s own multivitamin, raw honey. Raw honey contains Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and C, as well as minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium chlorine, sulphur, and phosphate.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil or Earth Balance “butter”
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 8 oz unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice milk (or almond/coconut)
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/2 cup of any of the following–dark chocolate bits, walnuts, dates

How to Make Them:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F; spray 12-muffin pan with oil or line with fun paper liners
  2. In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients (flours, baking soda and powder, spices and salt)
  3. In a separate, large bowl (or KitchenAid mixer if you have one), vigorously whisk together sugar, honey and vegan butter until smooth. Add eggs and whisk again on high until mixture stiffens. Add in your mashed banana, apple sauce,  rice milk, and vanilla extract.
  4. Slowly fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
  5. Once combined, gently mix in optional treats (dark chocolate bits, walnuts, dates)
  6. Evenly distribute batter across muffin pan; bake for 45 min (or until a toothpick comes out clean)

Post-Workout Recovery Fuel: The Golden Rule

Diet crazes may come and go, but one macronutrient has always remained largely unscathed by the mainstream fitness and nutrition media.

Protein is an essential part of our daily diet, forming the structural basis of our muscles, skin, nails and hair, amongst other functions. True, this macronutrient is mighty important, but the hype it gets and the marketing power that is thrown behind protein powders and other supplements could make you think the entire American population is suffering from protein deficiency.

That is just not the case. In fact, most of us get more than enough protein through our regular daily food intake—including vegetarians and savvy vegans.

For most people, the RDA for protein intake is 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (2.2kg/1lb). If you’re an athlete or someone performing high-intensity physical activity (e.g. training for a marathon), you should bump that RDA up a few notches to 1.1-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (Williams 2006).  In other words, a 135 lb woman should consume between 68 to 86 grams of protein, while a 180 lb man should target 90 to 195 grams. When we get too much protein, excess is converted into carbohydrates or fat and can stress the liver and kidneys. Eventually excess protein substrate is doomed to be a waste, excreted through urination.

 Clif_Amy Rizzotto 1

The ideal food intake breakdown for athletes is to get 25-35% of your calories from fat, 15-20% from protein, and 55-60% from carbohydrates. For the sake of comparison, the once very popular ZONE Diet encourages a 30:40:30 ratio, or double the amount of protein according to RDA standards and not nearly enough carbohydrates to fuel your muscles’ glycogen stores for exercise. While these ratios are helpful for me as a nutrition coach, most people just want to be told how much protein they need after a workout.

This question always prompts my Golden Rule for Post-Workout Recovery Fuel: consume 10 grams of protein within one hour of intense physical activity for improved muscle repair.

Ideally, your post-workout snack or meal would fit into that 25-35%:15-20%:%55-60% ratio of fats:proteins:carbs. Most Clif bars fit the bill when you’re on the go with 45g carbs (5g of which are dietary fiber), 10g protein, 5g fat, and only 250 calories. And if you’re looking for something lighter—maybe saving room for that brunch in a couple hours—Clif Builder’s Snack Size are my go-to. The still have that 10g grams of protein your body needs, are a mere 130 calories, and provide a good source of iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium, as well as vitamins A, C, E and K and many of the B vitamins that are so essential to our metabolism.

I’m a big fan of Clif bars not only for their impressive nutritional profiles but also because of the company’s ethos. Clif is a 1% for the Planet member, they use 100% recycled materials for their packaging, and their bars never contain ingredients like artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, or trans fats.

Please keep in mind that these kind of bars should not be viewed as a regular meal replacement. Whole grains, fruits and veggies, beans and other sources of lean protein are essential to a well-balanced, healthy diet. That said, they are definitely a MOARyoga-approved, convenient way to fulfill the protein needs of your muscles in that one-hour post-workout window.

Williams, Melvin H. Nutrition for Health, Fitness and Sport: 8th Edition. McGraw-Hill. May 2006.

Tomatillo Spicy Green Salsa

I don’t know what it is about summer, but all I want to cook these days is food with spicy, Latin American flavors. Perhaps I just want to embrace the sweltering heat and fire up my body’s natural cooling system–a.k.a. get my sweat on. As a result, I’ve become mildly obsessed with trying out different gazpacho and salsa recipes. And with farmers markets in full flourish the available ingredients are bountiful, fresh and packed with flavor.

Most recently I taste tangoed with a curious little fruit and member of the tomato family: the tomatillo (or “little tomato” in Spanish). To me, tomatillos look like miniature paper lanterns. They have this thin, veiny husk and it’s like unwrapping a present when you reveal the brilliant lime-colored gem underneath.


Beyond their aesthetic appeal, they are incredibly good for you. Packed with fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamins C and K, and antioxidants, these low-calorie beauties will help keep your body fit as a fiddle from the inside out.

Without further ado, the recipe….

What You’ll Need:

  • 10 medium tomatillos
  • 1/4 sliced sweet onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1/2 poblano pepper
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro


How to Make It:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450F
  2. Place tomatillos, onion, garlic, jalapeño  and poblano on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Dust with salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat.
  3. Bake at 450F for 15 min or until skin on tomatillos and peppers start to caramelize and bubble.
  4. Let cool then seed your jalapeño and poblano (unless you want it suuuuper spicy). Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor with one cup of fresh cilantro. Process until smooth.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 30 min then serve.


This is delish on homemade fish tacos or drizzled over a piece of grilled flank steak. It can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to three months.

White Asparagus & Shiitake Mushroom Salad w/ Balsamic Reduction

In need of an idea for a quick summer salad that tastes delicious? I was too. Salad’s can get boring, especially for those of us that eat them on the regular. It’s important to change up the ingredients to keep your interest (and this healthy habit) alive and well.

On my first trip ever to the AdMo Harris Teeter, I was inspired at the sight of white asparagus. The pale sister of glowing green asparagus, white asparagus is rare to find fresh in the US. Luckily, I caught the tail-end of prime asparagus season and seized the opportunity to snag this porcelain beauty.

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This spring treat boasts a pretty impressive nutritional profile. Not only does Asparagus provide a natural liver detox, it is fortified with folate and vitamins E, A, and C to help protect you against heart disease. Folate, or B9, has also been linked to cellular regeneration (aka healing power). Vitamin E is shown to help fight Type II diabetes, and vitamins A and C will steel you against certain types of cancer and cataracts. Asparagus also contains potassium (as does its green cousin the avocado), which helps lower blood pressure and may reduce LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad kind).

Having selected my star ingredient, I decided to pick up some yummy shiitake mushrooms and arugula to round out the salad. For dressing, I decided to go sweet and simple with a balsamic reduction. The mild white asparagus paired nicely with the earthiness of the mushrooms, bitter bite of arugula, and sweet finish of balsamic.

Give this easy recipe a whirl for yourself, and if you aren’t lactose-intolerant or vegan, a hit of pecorino romano shavings would be delicioso!

Warm White Asparagus & Shiitake Mushroom Salad:

(Serves 4)

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 bunch white asparagus (substitute green if unavailable)
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 5 oz arugula (or 1 bag/box)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup good balsamic vinegar (for the reduction)

How to Make the Salad:

  1. Thoroughly wash your mushrooms, asparagus and arugula (unless pre-washed).
  2. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbs olive oil over medium heat. Add your asparagus, spreading it into a single layer, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 min or until al dente (you can get a fork in but the spear doesn’t slip right off). Remove from heat and slice into 2 inch pieces.
  3. Simultaneously with step 2,  heat another large saucepan with  2 tbs olive oil over medium heat. Add your mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté until mushrooms begin to brown, or about 5 min. Remove from heat but leave the pan on your stove. Add your arugula to the same pan and give it a quick warm up for 1-2 min.
  4. Plate immediately, starting with the warm arugula as your base and equally dividing the asparagus and shiitake between four plates.
  5. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction (recipe below) and enjoy!

How to Make the Balsamic Reduction:

  1. Pour your balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn down the heat so that the boil reduces to a simmer.
  3. Stir occasionally and allow to simmer until the vinegar has reduced by at least half – though I liked to let it go longer for a thicker consistency.
  4. Allow to cool then drizzle over your plated salads to finish.

Sunday Spread: BBQ Pulled Chicken w/ Asian Broccoli Slaw & Kale Chips

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my Jerk Chicken Sunday Spread. Well with NFL playoff season in full swing–GO PATS!–I decided y’all might enjoy another modified comfort food recipe, and one that will keep your guests happy and healthy. This Sunday Spread is tailgate-inspired with its sandwich, slaw and chip combo. The recipes are nutrient-dense and tasty as can be…leaving a little wiggle room for some of my signature perfect Manhattans (*insert devilish grin here*).

For starters, homemade BBQ sauce is the way to go. Not only do you know exactly what you’re eating and avoid a lot of preservatives, but you also get to control the acidity, sweetness and spice levels. At 32 g of lean protein per serving, the chicken in these sammys gives you a good dose of your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein–which for adult women is 46 g and adult men 56 g. Cruciferous vegetables like the broccoli and kale used in these side dishes are packed with disease-fighting nutrients, including several carotenoids, vitamins C, E, and K, folate, and dietary fiber.

Get to cookin’ and enjoy this football-friendly Sunday spread, guilt-free!



What You’ll Need:

  • 2 lbs chicken (about 4 chicken breasts or 5 chicken thighs)
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup all-natural ketchup
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 whole wheat sandwich rolls

How to Make It:

  1.  Grab a mix bowl and combine the garlic, ketchup, tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika, cumin, allspice and cinnamon. Give it a good whisk until smooth and well blended.
  2. Add your chicken breasts or thighs in a single layer at the bottom of your slow cooker. Sprinkle the diced onions evenly overtop. Pour your BBQ sauce mixture on top, cover and set heat to low. Let cook for 4-5 hours like this.
  3. Remove chicken from slow cooker. The chicken should be pretty much cooked-through, but now it’s time to shred. Using two forks, gently pull apart the chicken into stringy pieces and/or small chunks. Once you’ve shredded the lot, add it back to the sauce in your slow cooker and cook another 1-2 hours.


What You’ll Need:

  • 1 package pre-shredded broccoli slaw mix (your could use the cole slaw mix here as a substitute or shred your own cabbage and carrots)
  • 2 tbs green onions, sliced thin
  • 2 tbs fresh cilantro, minced

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 2 tbs low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs fresh ginger, grated

How to Make It:

  1.  Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add slaw mix, green onions and cilantro. Toss together until well-coated and combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.


What You’ll Need:

  •  1 head kale (whatever variety you like best)
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

How to Make Them:

  1. Pre-heat over to 300°F. Wash, stem and cut kale into bite size pieces.
  2. Toss kale and olive oil together in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle spices as evenly as possible over the kale then mix thoroughly with your hands, massaging the kale, for 1-2 min. 
  3. Place wire cooling racks on two cookie sheets. Spread coated kale leaves over both wire racks. (Note: the wire cooling racks allow heat to crisp the kale from top and bottom. Without this added elevation your chips will be soggy and oily.) Bake for 20-30 min depending on the oven. Keep an eye on them for the last 10 min or so to ensure they don’t burn.
  4. Remove from oven, flake them into a bowl and enjoy!

10-Day Cleanse: Smoothies

Here are the recipes you’ll need for breakfast, days 1 through 4 of my 10-Day Cleanse.

Blueberry Beet Smoothie w/ Ginger:

Amy’s 10-Day (Moderate) Cleanse: Breakfast, Days 1 and 2

To Make: Blend together 1-2 medium raw beet (cleaned with skin on, roughly chopped), 1 cup frozen wild blueberries, 1 tbs grated fresh ginger, 2 tbs fresh lemon juice, 1 cup water, and a handful of ice. (Optional: substitute half of that water for a 1/2 cup almond milk)

  • This energizing smoothie is bound to put some pep in your step. The blueberries boast a high concentration of antioxidants and the raw beets are full of folate, vitamin B, and fiber.

Pineapple Banana Kale Smoothie:

Amy’s 10-Day (Moderate) Cleanse: Breakfast, Days 3 and 4

To Make: Blend together 1 cup fresh pineapple (cubed), 1 banana, 2-3 kale leaves (chopped with stems removed), 2 tbs ground flaxseed, 1 cup water, and a handful of ice. (Optional: substitute half of that water for a 1/2 cup almond milk)

  • This powerful smoothie is not only naturally sweet, but packed with dietary fiber, two powerful antioxidants (carotenoids and flavonoids) that are proven to help prevent cancer, and vitamins A, K and C.

Keep in mind this is a cleanse, so while these will taste refreshing and healthy they won’t be as sweet as a typical smoothie. If you are really struggling, try adding in the optional almond milk and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup or raw honey to these recipes–with the sweeteners these would also be great non-cleanse smoothies too.

Beet & Black Rice Risotto

Another one of my twisted classics, this beet and black rice risotto will deliver the same satisfying, creamy comfort of a traditional risotto with some major health upgrades. Believe me, my genetics (and last name) make me a ‘rizzotto’ expert.

Let me drop some knowledge on you. Beets are packed with vitamins A, B (1, 2 and 6) and C–take that common cold! They also contain phytonutrients, naturally occurring chemical compounds with demonstrated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties. Stemming from this burgundy root vegetable (pun intended) are its greens, which boast a higher concentration of iron than spinach.  They are also an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus and sodium. Not to be neglected are the mighty nutritional characteristics of black rice (which actually turns purple when cooked). By eating 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice, you are ingesting as many anthocyanins (a potent antioxidant) as one spoonful of the well-known superfood, blueberries.

Now that you know how good the two main ingredients are for you, let me tell you how to make it! Bonus: this can be made vegan simply by omitting the optional goat’s milk gouda.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup black rice (I use Forbidden Rice)
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch beet greens, stemmed and washed
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup arborio rice
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 large beets (~1 lb) roasted, skinned and diced (Note: advance prep time needed!)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 tbs finely chopped Italian basil
  • OPTIONAL:1/2 cup goat’s milk Gouda cheese, grated

How to make it:*

  1. Before tackling steps 3-8, wrap your beets in foil and roast in an oven pre-heated to 350°F for 45 min-1 hour. When you can stick a fork in and pull it out with ease, they’re done. Immediately remove them from the foil and dunk them in cold water.  Use a spoon to pull the skin away, dice them up and set aside.
  2. Additionally, you’ll need to pre-cook the black rice. To do so combine with 2 cups water in a saucepan, add salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 to 40 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Remove from the heat and let sit for 10-15 min.
  3. Now, onto the main attraction. Bring vegetable stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Season with salt & pepper and reduce heat to low.
  4. Take your washed beet greens (you could also use swiss chard), stack them up and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch strips. Set aside.
  5. In a large saucepan–I use my Le Creuset 5 qt. dutch oven–heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until the onion begins to soften (~3 min) and add the arborio rice and garlic. Cook until the grains of rice begin to crackle (~3 min).
  6. Here comes the labor of love part. Add in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. When the wine has almost evaporated, stir in a ladle of the simmering stock (enough to just cover the rice). Cook, stirring continuously, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladle of the stock and continue adding and stirring like this when the rice is almost dry for 10-15 min.
  7. Add in the greens, the diced beets and black rice and continue adding more stock, stirring often, for another 10 minutes. If all goes as it’s supposed to you’ll know because the arborio rice will be chewy but not hard in the middle–not soft like steamed rice. If it is still hard in the middle, continue adding stock and stirring for another 5 minutes or so. Add salt to taste.
  8. When the rice is properly cooked, add a generous amount of pepper, stir in another 1/2 cup of stock, the goat Gouda (again, optional) and the basil. Remove from heat. If the risotto isn’t creamy, add a little more stock, stir for another 5 min and serve.

*Disclaimer: this, like all risottos, is a labor of love. Definitely allocate at least an hour to make this from start to finish–and that doesn’t include the prep step of roasting the beets.

Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman’s “Black Rice and Arborio Risotto With Beets and Beet Greens” featured in NYT on Sept. 4, 2012.