Remember when I told you I loved brown rice?
Well, I reeeeeeally love brown rice now.
I mentioned this recipe last week, but it is so near and dear to my heart that I needed it in my mouth as soon as typed the words “rice pudding.” My great-grandmother, we called her “Grana,” would make it for all of our family gatherings. Sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, dotted with pats of butter, mixed until light and fluffy…oh man, it’s good.
We eat Grana’s Rice Pudding hot, at room temperature, or cold. When we’d see this addictive dessert/breakfast/snack, we weren’t prudish; we would happily shovel it into our eager gullets at whatever temperature.
While we lost my beloved Grana a few years ago, her rice pudding lives on. My grandma, we call her “Gin” (no, not like the alcohol…with a hard G), uses my Grana’s recipe and brings this rice pudding to nearly all holidays and family celebrations. Although Grana isn’t with us anymore, it is comforting to know that a bit of her legacy has been preserved.
Grana’s Rice Pudding is simply made: river rice, some sugar, egg yolks, beaten egg whites, milk, and butter. The egg whites were key; they make her rice pudding more custardy and soufflé-like in texture. In an attempt to slightly healthify this recipe, I turned to some of my favorite vegan favorites: brown rice, flax seeds, almond milk, and coconut butter. While I’m sure Grana wouldn’t be too happy with my substitutions at first (she was more of a rice pudding purist at heart), I’m sure that one taste of my Vegan Rice Pudding would grant me an grinning validation. Are you ready for the best dang rice puddin’ you’ll ever try? Let’s get it goin’.
I am such a brown rice fan, and I prefer it over it’s refined counterpart for its nutritional benefits and nutty flavor. Brown rice gives us a powerful punch of manganese, fiber, selenium, and protein! All of these nutrition boosts from a simple little grain? I’ll take it! We’re opting for a medium grain rice to give our Vegan Rice Pudding even more starchy goodness. I love this comforting nutritional powerhouse.
If you’re a regular ’round these parts, it should come as no surprise that almond milk and I are tight. At the risk of sounding like the Dos Equis guy, I don’t always use milk, but when I do, I always choose almond milk. Well…almost always. If I’m after something unbelievably creamy, rich, and totally delish, I’ll opt for the full-fat coconut milk. Coconut milk is totally optional here, but I love adding it for a richer consistency.
Because I was after the soufflé-like consistency that my Grana had mastered so beautifully with her rice pudding, I chose to throw in some ground flax seeds. Not only do they add a unique texture to the final dish, but these tiny seeds give us some healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins! A double-whammy of multi-tasker goodness. Flax seeds are the bomb.
Last, I threw in some flavor-enhancers. Cinnamon is my go-to for pretty much any dish I can think of. I’m in love with its warm and subtle sweetness, and the fact that it regulates blood sugar. I also swirled in some chopped dried figs purely on the principle of addiction to the things! They’re sweet and the perfect chewy bite inside this rice pudding. Last, I dotted the top with some of my Salted Caramel Coconut Butter. Grana’s rice pudding was always topped with pats of butter that would melt into pools of delicious flavor. I wanted to mimic that sensation with a vegan-friendly alternative, so I turned to the melty goodness of one of my favorite coconutty spreads. Feel free to substitute peanut butter, sunflower butter, or almond butter in its place! Oh, and be sure to throw in a bit of maple syrup or honey if you want your rice pudding on the sweeter side!
There are so many ways you can customize this Vegan Rice Pudding, you have no excuse not to make it rightthisverysecond! The cinnamon! The brown rice! The coconut butter! Swoon.
Vegan Rice Pudding
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Full of healthy fats, vitamins, and good-for-you nutrients, this Vegan Rice Pudding is a perfect and gluten free indulgence!
- 1/2 cup medium-grain brown rice
- ~2 cups milk, divided
- pinch salt
- 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
- 1/2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup + more to taste (other liquid sweeteners would work, too!)
- splash pure vanilla extract
- coconut butter (optional)
- chopped figs (optional)
- Add rice, 1 and 1/2 cups milk, salt, and cinnamon to a small pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 25-35 minutes. Near the end of the cooking time, add 1/4 - 1/2 cup of the remaining milk (depending on the creaminess you desire), keeping in mind that the rice should not absorb all of the milk. You'll need this residual milk for the flax seeds. Remove rice mixture from heat once rice is tender.
- Stir in ground flax, maple syrup, and vanilla. Top with desired toppings. Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold.
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