A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Homemade Rice Pudding

Who doesn’t love pudding? It can be made in many ways, but rice pudding is one of my favorites. Sure, you can buy it pre-made from Jello-O (not advisable) or Kozy Shack (better option), but making it homemade is always the best bet for a healthy treat.

Although some recipes call for raisins to be added, this usually takes away from the creaminess and just adds more sugar than needed. Homemade is better than store bought as you control the type of rice and other ingredients used. A little work pays off when using better ingredients to feed your need for sweet solace.

There may be some trial and error when opting for healthier ingredients, but that is part of the fun and learning process. Plus, I’ve never been so disappointed in the outcome where it had to be thrown out. Just search for a healthy rice pudding recipe and you will be faced with many options. For someone like me, “healthy” is not good enough, and I will alter the recipe further.

Here are a couple recipes and what I changed to make one of my favorite treats…

- 1/2 cup Arborio rice, uncooked – I opt for medium grain brown rice for more fiber and minerals than this white short grain variety
- 1 cup nonfat milk – Sometimes I will use a light coconut milk for a real treat, otherwise non-fat is great
- 1 cinnamon stick, about 3 inches long
- 3 tablespoons sugar – Not a fan of sugar (surprise), but will use Stevia or a little honey instead
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated – This does sound good to me, so I never add it.
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Ground cinnamon

Directions1 In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, stir together the 2 1/2 cups milk and the rice. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.
2 Reduce heat to medium high and boil for 5-6 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken, stirring occasionally.
3 Stir in the other 1 cup of milk, the cinnamon stick, sugar, and lemon zest.
4 Increase the heat to high and return to a boil, stirring occasionally.
5 Reduce the heat to medium high and boil for 4-5 minutes or until creamy and soupy.
6 Remove from the heat.
7 Stir in the vanilla and let the mixture stand for 30 minutes to thicken somewhat.
8 Before serving, remove the cinnamon stick. Sprinkle the individual dishes of pudding with ground cinnamon to your tastes.

 This is a pretty basic recipe and turns out great for me even when I make the noted ingredient changes. You really need to watch out when heating the milk, it will bubble and scald really fast if not careful! I love mine chilled with a few fresh strawberries, blueberries, bananas, or a combination. Try adding peanut butter for extra flavor and protein.
Another, more exotic recipe that can be used to “Wow” your friends and family is this black rice pudding.

  • 2 cups black (forbidden) rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups canned or fresh coconut milk – I use light coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup palm sugar, or substitute brown sugar – It’s hard to mimic the role sugar plays in this recipe, but I am stubborn and use Stevia with maybe a 1/4 cup of brown sugar or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Place the rice and water in a heavy pot and bring to a boil. Let boil vigorously for several minutes, stirring frequently, then cover, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to very low and let simmer, still covered, for about 30 minutes.
Just before the rice finishes cooking, place the coconut milk in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in the sugar and salt until completely dissolved. Heat just to a boil, then reduce to the lowest heat until the rice is cooked.
Add the coconut milk to the rice and stir well, then remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
Serve warm or at room temperature, in small bowls, with your choice of topping.
Black rice is an interesting grain and something fun to eat. Also, the compounds that make it black are called anthocyanins. These are the same type of antioxidants found in blueberries; plus you get the added benefit of more fiber, protein, and less sugar than the berries.
Try to use brown or black rice in place of white rice as much as possible, the benefits over the latter will pay huge dividends to your health.

For motivation to make the switch here’s an interesting bit of information from WHFoods.com
“The process that produces brown rice removes only the outermost layer, the hull, of the rice kernel and is the least damaging to its nutritional value. The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be "enriched" with vitamins B1, B3 and iron.” 

Rice can be enjoyed in many dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and, as seen above, dessert. Use it in for any part of your meal and start reaping the flavorful whole grain benefits for yourself!

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