COCONUT AND CINNAMON RICE PUDDING

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Winter’s not over yet. It has been downright cold on into April. Let’s hope we’re on the turn. Optimistic thinking or otherwise, this weather does at least provide the perfect excuse to enjoy a fluffy bowl of coconut and cinnamon rice pudding for breakfast, of an evening or in your lunchbox.

Food has such an extraordinary capacity to evoke memories. Even just a trace on the wind of something familiar is enough to trigger a feeling, the associations are so profound. The epitome of this, for me, is comfort food. When you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps, a little under the weather, or for some reason, unbeknownst even to you, in need of a warm pick me up, food is so often the answer. I’m sure that psychologists, nutritionists and new-world health gurus would be up in arms at such a statement. Eat to live, not live to eat and all that. Sadly though I’m weak, and with winter overstaying it’s welcome and slinking chilly tendrils into April, this warming coconut and cinnamon rice pudding is the ultimate feel good, hug in a bowl. The familiarity and comfort factor of rice pudding but with a tropical twist, this recipe straddles the seasons magnificently.

It’s an investment of time for the benefit of delicious breakfasts for a day or two. Glorious hot or cold, you can whip up a bigger batch in advance to savour over a few occasions if you have the will power to control your portion size. Hats off to you if you can, you’re a stronger person than I.

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Ingredients

Makes enough for about 3 servings

  • 115g pudding or short grain brown rice
  • 1 can coconut milk (I use a light version) or almond milk
  • Water as necessary
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 1-2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • A squeeze of agave/a sprinkling of brown sugar

Topping ideas

  • Nut butter
  • Fresh berries or fruity compote
  • Cacao nibs
  • Coconut flakes
  • Chopped nuts

The world’s your lobster! (I know that’s not technically the right phrase but in my family we’ve adopted it and it’s sort of stuck).

Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Once melted add the rice, coat in the oil and toast off for a few minutes until the rice begins to appear slightly more translucent.

Once you’ve done this add the coconut milk, vanilla, agave (or sugar) and cinnamon and bring the mixture to the boil. You may want to hold some coconut milk back or switch a little out for water depending on how rich you want it.

Turn down the heat and leave it to simmer very gently for between 30-40 minutes keeping an eye on it and stirring it until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked. I splash in a glug more water if I think the rice is still the wrong side of al dente once the coconut milk has been absorbed.

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It’s worth bearing in mind that this isn’t the creamy, heart stopping, line-your-insides kind of rice pudding that you might remember fondly from when you were little. It’s not likely to rival the creamy and sugary version in terms of indulgence but this is another one of those where if you trade in bits for some healthier options you can save a little of the post feast guilt. What it does deliver on is comfort value and taste so I still rate it!

I hear rice pudding is fabulous to make in a slow cooker, a device high up on my wish list. To try next!

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