This barley squash risotto is a twist on traditional risotto which is made with arborio rice. In this version I’ve substituted pearled barley for the rice. You can easily convert this recipe to be vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth. Risotto is a favorite comfort food that is especially good as the colder fall weather sets in. It’s also a one pot dish, which simplifies your clean up after the meal.
Once you’ve made this risotto a few times, you’ll get the technique down and find that it is really not difficult. It’s a technique you can learn and the same method applies whether you are making this barley squash version, or traditional risotto made with rice.
This recipe is part of my comfort food series. It’s a good dish to make when the wind is blowing outside and you want something hearty and delicious.
How much protein is in each serving?
This risotto provides approximately 7 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per serving, which are both essential to our healthy diet. To give you a reference point, a large egg provides approximately 6 grams of protein and no fiber. Protein helps our bodies build cells, bones, muscles and skin. When you have an injury, such as a cut or wound, protein helps repair the damage and heal the tissue. It helps support your immune system, which is important if you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment due to a cancer diagnosis. Protein is also used to build hormones, enzymes, and hemoglobin, the part of our red blood cells which carries oxygen throughout our system.
What is fiber, and why do we need it?
Fiber is a part of plants that we eat that is not readily broken down or absorbed in the small intestine during digestion. There are two basic types of fiber – soluble which can dissolve in water and insoluble which does not. Different plants contain different amounts and types of fiber. This is one reason why it is important to eat a wide range of different fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps keep our digestive system moving and can help reduce our cholesterol, may help control blood sugar levels for people with diabetes, and can make you feel full more quickly which can help prevent overeating.
How much fiber do we need?
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendation for fiber intake for females is 25 g/day for age 19 to 50; and 21 g/day over age 50. For males, the IOM recommendation for fiber intake is 38 g/day for age 19 to 50 and 30 g/day over age 50. You get fiber from a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. For example, one cup of cooked garbanzo beans provides 12.5 grams of fiber, 3/4 cup of bran flakes cereal provides 5.5 grams of fiber, 1 packet of instant oatmeal (28 grams) provides 3 grams of fiber and a medium apple with the skin provides 4.4 grams of fiber.