Sunday, 2 January 2011

New year's skinny jean blues? Try this detox pearl barley & shiitaké mushroom risotto recipe!

The good news New Year's eve was not as disastrous for my skinny jeans as Christmas as it could have been .

A relatively "healthy" yet indulging meal; starter of home made buckwheat blinis with wild Irish smoked salmon (brought back from my last trip home) with organic creme fraiche, a main course of blackened wild line-caught sea bass with a cockle & noilly reduction sauce (not so healthy). This was the first time I had attempted a noilly reduction sauce but it was very successful and apparently it tasted even better the next day heated up and served with the remaining portion of fish according to the other half!

This was followed by a cheese plate which included a very ripe brie au truffe (brie and black truffle-a seasonal delicacy in France). I have to admit I did have a very small piece of the dessert - a buche de Noel brought by one of the guests.

I heard on the radio yesterday that in the US most of the calories consumed during the main holiday dinners are consumed before you even get to the table....maybe this is where I went wrong...

The bad news is that the skinny jeans are still a little too a short detox programme after the festivities is required if I am ever to wriggle into them again. There is no point in going on a low calories diet after the seasonal pig out as your body will convince itself that you are starving it so you need good quality low GI carbs, protein and good fats and to cut out all refined sugar and processed foods until those jeans fit again!

Pearl barley has a much lower GI than many of its cereal counterparts such as wheat and rice. It is also rich in soluable fibre which helps rid of fatty substances, much needed after the festive excesses. Shiitaké mushrooms have been shown to lots of nutritional benefits from boosting the immune system to helping support the body's natural detoxification processes. Parsley contains more vitamin C than oranges and twice as much iron as spinach and is also a powerful antioxidant. All three are combined in the following recipe providing a very healthy start to January.

Those of you not worried about fitting in to skinny jeans can replace 10cl of the stock with 10cl of dry white wine, can add a tablespoon or two of creme fraiche and top each serving with some grated ewes cheese !

This recipe serves 4.

You will need: 250g pearl barley, 200g shiitaké mushrooms cleaned and shredded , 2 medium yellow onions finely chopped , 2 tbsp olive oil, 90cl vegetable stock, handful of flat leaf parsley coarsely chopped, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To make: heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, sweat the onions and when they are just translucent add the pearl barley to the saucepan. Stir the barely and onions to make sure that you coat all of the barley in oil and cook for about 2 minutes. Next add the wine if you are using it and add the vegetable stock one ladle at a time while continuing to stir until the barley is cooked and all of the stock has been absorbed (about 30 mins) and then stir in the parsley. Leave to rest. Heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan and cook the mushrooms for approx 5 minutes before stirring into the risotto. (You can reserve some of the mushrooms for decoration if you like). Season the risotto with freshly ground black pepper and salt, sprinkle with grated ewes cheese if using and serve.

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