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Healthy Recipe: Riceless Chicken Risotto with Farro by Chef Marvin Woods

Chef Marvin Woods and his risotto.
Chef Marvin Woods and his farro risotto. (Marvin Woods) Marvin Woods

(CBS) When it comes to eating healthy, chef Marvin Woods is on the move.

Woods was recently chosen to kick off Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign, which aims to curb childhood obesity, improve kids' nutrition and help them become active.

The First Lady's assignment dovetails with Woods' passion for helping schools, kids and parents turn around the childhood obesity epidemic. His national program, "Droppin' Knowledge with Chef Marvin Woods," has a 7-year track record in the fight for the health of our nation's children.

We asked Woods to provide some of his healthy makeover magic to a dish that's traditionally very heavy - risotto.


Instead of rice, Wood's healthy risotto uses farro, a healthier cousin of the popular grain. He makes his own stock, which helps keep the sodium levels in check and goes light on the butter and cheese (too big reasons why risotto can be so fattening).

To kick up the flavor, Woods drops in shitake mushrooms and fresh corn on the cob.

Amazingly, one serving clocks in at only 506 calories 12 grams of fat.

Want to find out more about Woods' mission, check him here.


Serves six

2 lbs. chicken bones
2 onions
4 whole carrots
4 ribs of celery
4 cobs from whole corn (bonus - stalks and peels)
1 handful of mushrooms (just the stems will do)
1 handful of peels from onions, shallots, or carrots

First we make our own vegetable stock. Here's how.

Place everything into a large pot of water with heat on medium high, bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Set aside one quart.

12 ounces farro
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 shallots
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh peas
1/4 cup corn on the cob
1/4 cup white wine
3 ounces of skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup mushrooms (shitake is best)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves - small, rough cut
2 tablespoons fresh Parmesan Reggiano (Reggiano means it's the real thing)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Cracked black pepper
Sea salt to taste

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and "sweat" for 1 to 2 minutes. Add peas and corn and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Add farro and continue to cook and stir for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Add white wine and reduce by half. Add enough stock to cover the farro. Lower heat and let cook, stirring frequently.

When liquid has disappeared, repeat, adding the same amount of stock. Repeat this process for 30 minutes. Add chicken and cook for another 5 minutes.

Stir in mushrooms and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Add butter, Parmesan and basil. Add black pepper and check seasoning. Add salt if needed. Top with freshly shaved Parmesan.

This hearty but far-from-heavy dish goes well with red or white wine. If red, try a malbec or a light pinot noir. If you go white, try a Viognier, or your favorite sauvignon blanc or chardonnay.


Serves 6, Calories 506, Total Fat 12g, Saturated Fat 3g, Trans Fat 0g, Polyunsaturated Fat 2.5g, Monounsaturated Fat 6g, Cholesterol 30mg, Sodium 150mg, Total Carbohydrate 77g, Dietary Fiber 8g, Sugars 3g, Protein 25g, Vitamin A 6%, Vitamin C 4%, Calcium 15%, Iron 20% (Nutrition Information provided by  Ann Dunaway Teh)