Month: January 2016

Sweet Almond Rice Pudding

Rice pudding meets all the criteria for comfort food: It is easy to make, has simple ingredients and tastes amazing! It takes only a few bites to stir feeling of happiness and at times, it takes  you down memory lane. Although rice pudding has been much more popular in the past, it is slowly making a come-back (at least I hope so!) with different twists. Rice pudding is common in countries where rice is a staple, such as Asia and in South America. I grew up in Brazil where rice pudding was called arroz doce, and usually made with short grain white rice, milk and sugar. Here in the USA, most rice pudding recipes are of European origin and call for cinnamon, nutmeg, and depending on what region you are from, it is either sweetened with sugar or maple syrup.

Regardless of which recipe you may follow, they all have a few things in common. They must be creamy, and this is why this is no time to substitute skim milk for a creamier milk. Whatever milk you choose to use in this recipe, make sure it is the full fat variety. The rice  must be soft but not chewy, and this can be tricky since it has to do with the type of rice you are using, making it necessary for you to adjust the liquid.  If you prefer making your rice pudding with basmati rice, you may have to increase the  liquid. The recipe below uses short grain white rice; therefore, if you choose a different one, alter your recipe accordingly.

Lastly, this pudding must be sweet. After all, it is a pudding and often a desert. The sweetness may come from sugar, syrup — or if you are watching your blood sugar, you may use stevia instead. To achieve the right amount when using sugar substitutes, follow the package directions for equivalents for sugar since each brand has a slight variation. Also, I always recommend to error on the side of caution since you can always add more stevia later.

Do you remember that  I mentioned rice pudding is evolving into much more than just plain comfort food? Well, that’s where Once Again Nut Butter comes into the picture. I took a traditional family recipe  for rice pudding, and by simply adding ½ cup of Once Again Crunchy Almond Butter,  took this rice pudding into a whole new dimension! It was an instant success — the almond butter complements the rice pudding so well that it was almost baffling why I hadn’t tried this before. It is delicious, and you can use whichever favorite Once Again Nut Butter you would like, but I do recommend trying the almond at some point. And although rice pudding is usually served warm, I found the leftovers that were refrigerated pretty amazing the next day!

 Almond Butter Rice Pudding (2)

Sweet Almond Rice Pudding

1 cup of rice

4 cups of water

1/2 cup sugar or 1 teaspoon of undiluted stevia powder* (18-24 packets of stevia sweetener)

4 cups of milk** (of your choice, we used whole cow’s milk traditionally)

1 egg

1 tablespoon of corn

½ cup of Once Again Crunchy Almond Butter

*Or you may use 18-24 stevia sweetener packets; remember, sweetness varies with brands. Start with less, since you can always add more to the finished recipe.

**If using stevia, decrease milk to 3 cups.

Cook rice as indicated in package, using all 4 cups of water. When the rice has absorbed almost all the water, and it’s nearly ready, add 2 cups of hot milk (heat milk near its boiling temperature in separate pan or microwave). In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, sugar or stevia and corn starch. Then stir in this mixture with the rice.

Lastly, add in almond butter and the last cup of warm milk. Bring mixture to a boil and then turn off burner on stove top, the pudding is ready to be served! Or it may be refrigerated and served cold.

Almond Butter Rice Pudding (5)

Baked Apple with Peanut Butter Crumble

   At least twice monthly people ask me the same question: what should I be eating? As a registered dietitian, that is just something that comes with the territory. People will watch what I eat, often ask what they should be eating, and every once in a while, challenge my choice of foods at the table. What catches them by surprise is that my first answer is not about choosing a specific food, but rather  actually about creating a “food habit” to set  life on  a healthier path. I encourage people to plan their meals and take the time to eat them. Often the reaction is a loud sigh followed by “I wish I had the time to do that,” But reality is, you do! It is a matter of changing your habits and your perspective on how you look at meal times. Eating is not something we just do to survive as human beings, it is also a time when you are nourishing your body by giving it  everything it needs. What you eat today will help your body to thrive over the next few days.   It is continuous work that requires dedication and some planning.

When you take the time to eat, even if it is 15 minutes, you are likely to consume fewer calories and a better quality of foods. Focusing on your meal and disconnecting from electronic screens allows your body to send back signals about when you are full. Mindless eating is a top issue for people dealing with weight management issues. Taking the time to also chew your food well will ensure good digestion. Poor mastication of food leads to suboptimal release of saliva, which is the first step of digestion. No need to go into the details, but you get the idea: When taking shortcuts on the digestion process, you will likely extract fewer nutrients from your food .

Having a slower paced meal is also therapeutic. Concentrating on what you are putting on your fork gives you time to take stock of  how your day has gone so far, what you can do to improve your mood and how you plan on finishing your tasks. It will also lead to a much deserved half- day break! So as hard as it may seem, take the time to eat. Savor your food and ingredients while taking just the few minutes to focus on yourself. And if you can splurge the extra minutes, pop an apple in the oven and go for dessert. This  type of dessert allows you to complete your meal by adding quality of nutrients such as this baked apple with peanut butter crumble to your diet. It takes literally seconds to put together, and while this speedy wonder  bakes, you can tackle a few items of your to-do  list. Or prepare it before you eat lunch, and take the time to eat the rest of your lunch while it is in the oven. Either way, make time for this one, and you won’t regret it —, it is that good!


Baked Apples with Peanut Butter Crumble

1 apple
¼ cup oats
1 tablespoon of Once Again Peanut Butter
2 chopped dried apricots
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon Killer Bee Honey (optional)
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Start by removing the core of the apple, and prepare it to be filled with crumble. In separate bowl mix all ingredients for the crumble with a fork. Add the mixture to the inside of the apple; wrap it in foil and take it to a preheated 400F oven for 30-40 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, or enjoy it plain! #GlutenFree #Vegan

Baked Apple with Peanut butter Crumble

Baked Apple with Peanut Butter Crumble -

Sweet Potato Curry with Almond Butter

Every year, the month of October  kicks off Vegetarian Awareness Month with World Vegetarian Day happening on October 1st and ends with World Vegan Day on November 1st.  Even though technically this celebration was a while back, many people heard about it for the first time in 2015  and are still trying to understand all the information and new facts that the vegetarian campaigns brought to light. We are all tuned in to what the proposed Dietary Guidelines of 2015 set by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) for all Americans (and now the confirmed 2016 Dietary Guidelines). These apply to all of us, even if we are not vegan or vegetarian.  And the message is loud and clear: Eat More Vegetables! Regardless of your age, social economical status, race, dietary restrictions or whatever factors we wish to name and consider, , we should all be eating more plants. These include plant-based protein, fats and fuel (carbohydrates).

Often, the barrier to increasing intake of vegetables is the lack of creativity when bringing them to the table. Let’s be honest, there is just so much steamed broccoli and cauliflower one can eat  each  week. Therefore, most household cooks plan meals around their main dish, which is, in the vast majority of families, a meat such as chicken, beef or pork. But what if for a change, we could change that mentality —even if just once weekly— to focus on something else  other the main dish? Well, that is what the Meatless Monday campaign has been doing, and it has been able to catch the attention of thousands of people since its inception. Inspired by decreasing our intake  of  animal products, I created this recipe that will entice even  more traditional families to give it a try!

It is all about flavor, easy preparation, and delivering nourishment to your body. There is a slight misconception  of  some people that when eating a meatless meal you may still be hungry, or feel the need for a snack shortly after the meal. But that is simply incorrect! Plant- based protein and fats are just as satiating, and  in some  cases, even more so than meat- based meals since they tend to be accompanied by higher levels of fiber which aid in the feeling of fullness after eating a meal.

To make this Sweet Potato Curry recipe  you will take advantage of  a spiralizer, which is a fun way to change the way you look at vegetables, especially root vegetables. By slicing them thinly creating noodles, they will cook much more quickly r. This can facilitate preparing dinner at the end of the day when you don’t have a few extra hours to wait for the oven to preheat and bake. Sweet potatoes can be cooked along with carrots and squash in minutes on  the stove top with some added liquid.. This recipe calls for light coconut milk, which you may not be familiar with, but it is a wonderful creamy way to add thickness to sauces without using cream (an animal-derived  product). This type of coconut milk is usually sold in cans or cartons; they are made for cooking and not to be confused with the coconut milk now found in your dairy section which is  used as a milk alternative. The curry powder adds a wonderful aroma and flavor to the dish, but if you are not a curry fan, you may leave it out completely and the results will still delicious ! The almond butter in the sauce brings this recipe together very nicely adding, not only flavor and texture, but a tad extra vitamins, minerals and healthy fats! Have fun thinking of other vegetables, you can add or substitute in this curry recipe and create your own versions at home!

Sweet Potato Curry with Once Again Almond Butter -

Sweet Potato Curry

1 tablespoon of coconut oil (or substitute olive oil)

1 large sweet potato

2 carrots

1 large yellow squash

1 teaspoon of fresh ginger

1 teaspoon of yellow curry powder

1 can of light coconut milk (13 oz.)

2 tablespoons of Once Again Creamy Almond Butter

1 teaspoon of salt



1 small apple

2-3 apricots

1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds

Use a spiralizer to cut the sweet potato, carrots and squash into thin noodles. As an option, you may purchase potato noodles. In separate bowl, mix coconut milk with all other ingredients and set aside. Add the noodles to a medium sized pan with the coconut oil on medium heat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes; then add the coconut milk mixture and bring it to boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 15 minutes for curry to thicken. Serve warm with a garnish of apples (use the spiralizer for thin slices), diced apricots and pumpkin .

#vegan #vegetarian #glutenfree