In the midst of Winter, one cannot resist complete comfort food! This urge for complete belly euphoria inspired me to create a vegan version of a rather popular dish – Risotto! I cannot believe how great this recipe turned out! As I write this it’s a cold and miserable day outside and all I can think about is having one more forkful of this truly scrumptious meal!
The flavors are wildly bold, enlightening each taste bud with every mouthful! This Wild Mushroom and Leek Risotto is most certainly an indulgent winter dish!
For me, this dish was quite a treat as I don’t tend to eat white grains mainly because the majority of them tend to have a high glycaemic index and thus reeking havoc with my blood sugars, but this meal surprisingly went down well. Granted I had to use more insulin, but my sugars plateaued out quite well and I had a considerable amount of energy which was great!
This inspired me to focus this post on carbohydrates, why they’re so important and what they do in the body.
Function of Carbohydrates in the Body
Carbohydrates supply the body with energy. During the digestive process, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which is used as energy or stored by the body as fat for future energy needs. You need a certain number or proportion of carbohydrates to create enough energy for you to live, laugh, love and do the other things that make us human.
Carbohydrates are generally divided into complex and simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates consist of simple molecules that are easy for the body to break down and use for energy. Simple carbohydrates include refined sugar and sugars like the fructose and glucose found in fruits. Complex carbohydrates consist of more complex molecules and are harder for the body to break down. Complex carbohydrates are healthier for the body and include foods like whole grain rice and various vegetables.
Simple carbohydrates are easily digested and this makes them readily available to the body in the form of glucose and energy. But this is also what makes them more dangerous to your health. Simple carbohydrates like sugar cause the blood glucose levels within your body to spike and they are also the main reason why people develop insulin resistance which in turn causes diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Source
Types of Carbohydrates
There are 3 types of carbohydrates that are defined by the number of sugar molecules they contain:
- Monosaccharide – one sugar molecule, examples include glucose, galactose (in milk), and fructose (in fruit)
- Disaccharide – two sugar molecules, examples include sucrose (table sugar), lactose (in milk), and maltose (in beer).
- Polysaccharide – several sugar molecules, examples include starchy foods like pasta, or potatoes, and fiber, which is the indigestible part of a plant that aids in digestion.
As carbohydrates are broken down and enter the bloodstream, they increase the amount of sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream. The level of sugar in the bloodstream is called your blood sugar level. As you eat carbs, your blood sugar level rises, which activates the hormone insulin to suck the excess sugar out of the bloodstream and into your muscles (which can absorb about 300-400 grams) and your liver (which can absorb 100 grams).
The Glycemic Index was created to measure the speed with which carbohydrates are converted to glucose. Foods that digest quickly are high on the index, which ranges from 0 to 100, and foods that digest slowly are lower on the index. This is important because large spikes in insulin levels affect your hunger (can make you even more hungry), can negatively impact fat loss, and even lead to diabetes if levels are chronically elevated from over consumption of fast digesting carbohydrates. Source
Moving forward to the recipe…
So, now that we know how carbohydrates are used in the body, it’s easier to understand why I tend to keep dishes like this for special occasions. Although the Arborio risotto rice has a medium glycemic index, for me it’s still pretty high. That’s why I’d say this is more of a treat meal than a regular occurring one.
That aside, it is absolutely scrumptious! The vegan Parmesan cheese is so delicious, I can’t help but eat it with a spoon straight out of the jar. Lately I’ve been having such fun making Parmesan like vegan cheeses, using a variety of different nuts and flavorings. Onion powder has shot to the top of my favorite list! Can’t get enough of it!!!
For this recipe I used some of the Neudorf Wild Mushrooms that I got from the Wednesday Farmers Market in Nelson. I’ve never really cooked with dried wild mushrooms before, so it was such fun experimenting and creating this recipe! And I have to say I hit the nail on the head! It’s definitely a winner! Hope you enjoy!
- 1 Shallot (Peeled and finely diced)
- 2 Cloves Garlic (Peeled and finely diced)
- 1/2 Large Leek (Cleaned and thinly sliced)
- 1 TBS Organic Cold Pressed Coconut Oil
- 1 Vegetable Stock Cube (Dissolved in 3 Cups Boiling water)
- 10g Dried Wild Mushrooms (Re hydrated in a little stock water)
- 1 Cup Organic Arborio Risotto Rice (Rinsed)
- 75ml Organic White Wine
- Sprig of fresh thyme for serving
- VEGAN PARMESAN
- 1/2 Cup Cashew Nuts
- 3 Tsp Nutritional Yeast
- 1 Tsp Onion Powder
- 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- VEGAN PARMESAN CHEESE
- Place all ingredients into a food processor, and blend until fine. Store in an airtight glass jar in the fridge for up to 5 days
- WILD MUSHROOM AND LEEK RISOTTO
- Chop and prep all your vegetables.
- On a medium heat, add the coconut oil and when hot add the shallot, garlic and leek. Allow to saute for about 4 mins.
- Boil the kettle and make your stock. Put about 1/2 a cup aside in a small bowl and add the dried wild mushrooms to re hydrate.
- Add the rinsed Arborio rice to the sauteing vegetables and saute for a further 1 min, stirring the rice thoroughly ensuring the rice gets coated in the sauteed oil.
- Add the white wine and cook for a further 2 mins.
- On a med-low heat, slowly begin to add the remaining stock water, about 1/2 a cup at a time. Stirring once added and then leaving to simmer for about 4 mins. Then adding another half a cup and repeating this process until the rice has cooked through, but not stodgy.
- Let the re hydrated mushroom water be the last water you add. If you find you don't need to use all the stock water, that's fine, but the re hydrated mushroom water will have a lot of flavor.
- Cook for a further minute and then add the mushrooms, stirring gently, leaving a few for topping when serving. Add 2-3 TBS of the Vegan Parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt, stir and remove from the heat.
- Serve with a fresh sprig of Thyme and a fresh green salad along side.
- Use organic where possible