Heart Healthy Cinnamon Rice Pudding

Today I learned about arborio rice, which is an Italian, short-grain rice primarily used in making risotto. You may also use arborio rice for making rice pudding or substitute it for any rice where the recipe calls for a creamy rice variety.

Arborio rice is a great rice choice for your protein and fiber needs, it is far superior than long grain white rice in these areas. A more fibrous diet helps to regulate your digestive system and can play a vital role in weight loss– it creates a feeling of fullness. This rice is also a good source of calcium which will help maintain the strength of your bones and teeth, influencing healthy heart, nerves and muscles. One cup of arborio rice also provides you with 6 to 12 percent of the iron you need each day. Additionally, arborio rice is rich in vitamins A and C — one cup contains 12% of the vitamin A you need daily and 6% of the vitamin C you require.

Now in terms of carbohydrates, a 1-cup serving of arborio rice contains nearly the entire amount of carbohydrates you should consume in a day — 105 to 117g. The Institute of Medicine recommends 130g daily. If you include arborio rice in your meal plan, consider either eating a smaller portion or carefully monitoring your meal plan so you do not over eat carbohydrates.

Honey, on the other hand is great natural source of carbohydrates and known for its effectiveness in instantly boosting the performance, endurance and reduce muscle fatigue of athletes. Its natural sugars play an important role in preventing fatigue during exercise. The glucose in honey is absorbed by the body quickly and gives an immediate energy boost, while the fructose is absorbed more slowly providing sustained energy. Honey has also been found to keep levels of blood sugar fairly constant compared to other types of sugar. So, to experience some health benefits of honey, here are a few tips for you:

1. Before a workout, take a spoon of honey to truly go the extra mile.

2. If you are feeling low and lethargic in the morning, instead of reaching out for a carbonated drink , try a spoonful of honey. Spread it on hot toast or replace the sugar in your tea with a refreshing surge of energy.

3. If your kids are finding it hard to cope with the physical strain from activities at school, prepare sandwiches with honey and ham or honey and peanut butter to make sure they have enough energy to sustain through the day. Also, try putting honey water in their bottles. They couldn’t care a bit about the health benefits of honey, but simply love the taste of it! (works on adults too! 🙂 )

Now that we know all these great facts and benefits of Arborio rice and honey, here is a great recipe for rice pudding adapted from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. It’s just the ticket, slightly warm on a cool night, or slightly cool on a warm afternoon. And in the realm of alternative breakfasts, it’s a filling start with fresh fruit.

(Photo from http://www.minuterice.com)

Heart Healthy Cinnamon Rice Pudding
Serves 6


2 1/2 cups nonfat milk
1/2 cup arborio rice, uncooked
1 cup nonfat milk
1 cinnamon stick, about 3 inches long
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
ground cinnamon


1) 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, honey 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.


In health,



Sugar, ah honey honey

… You are my candy girl–and you’ve got me wanting you 🙂

We all get sugar cravings and have a sweet tooth that can become out of control.

Does that morning Danish leave you craving another treat two hours later? Do you grab a candy bar to cope with your afternoon slump — and then reach for a caffeinated drink to get out of your post-slump slump?

If you’ve found that munching sugary snacks just makes you crave more sugary snacks, you’re not alone. Eating lots of simple carbohydrates — without the backup of proteins or fats — can quickly satisfy hunger and give your body a short-term energy boost, but will quickly leave you famished again and craving more.

How can you stop sugar cravings once and for all?

Sweet is the first taste humans prefer from birth, it is natural to us and gives us a sense of comfort. But there are healthier options available to cure your sugar cravings. For example, did you know that eating a sweet breakfast in the morning will “crowd out” your cravings later in the day? Give natural sweeteners such as honey, agave netctar, coconut sugar, and maple syrup a try!

My next 5 posts will focus on using natural sweeteners… sure to be tasty!

Below is a recipe for a breakfast that I made recently and was asked to post by request.

Mango & Nectarine Quinoa


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons agave or coconut nectar (or other liquid sweetener)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 cups fruit (in this case I used mango & nectarine)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • For serving: yogurt & honey (optional)


  1. In a skillet, combine coconut nectar, ginger and water. Bring to a boil and add fruit, cook for about 3 minutes. Add quinoa and cook for 2 to 4 minutes more. Allow to cool slightly, and then divide between two serving bowls. If desired, top with yogurt or if need more sweetener, drizzle with honey.


In health,


Grilled Asian Lime and Cilantro Salmon

Photo by by rakratchada torsap

Photo by by rakratchada torsap

Salmon is a nutritious entree, being a good source of protein and one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends including fatty fish like salmon in the diet at least twice a week for heart-health benefits. The Washington state Department of Health cites a recent finding that people who eat at least one meal of fish per week will be significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who never eat fish.

Try this tasty dinner idea for Grilled Asian Lime and Cilantro Salmon


  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons agave nectar 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Directions

    1. Rinse salmon in cold water. Pat dry.
    2. In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, agave nectar, cilantro & lime juice.Place fish in a large resealable plastic bag with the soy sauce mixture, seal, and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
    3. Preheat grill for medium heat.
    4. Lightly oil grill grate. Place salmon on the preheated grill, and discard marinade. Cook salmon for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.Enjoy a delicious & nutritious meal!In health,Reve~Johanna

Wakey, Wakey – Eggs for Breaky

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Why? Because our brains need fuel to work properly!

Skipping breakfast is a common for people who are trying to lose weight, but unfortunately, it’s usually not a successful strategy. Your body (or more likely, your brain) expects to be refueled a few times each day. When you don’t eat breakfast you may feel so hungry by lunch time that you eat more foods than you normally would, which cancels out the calories you cut by skipping breakfast. You may also be tempted to choose foods that are not the healthiest choices when you feel like you’re starving.

For many people, eating breakfast is an important part of a weight loss diet. Research studies tell us that people who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight. Experts believe that breakfast keeps your metabolism running higher because skipping meals causes the body to kick into ‘starvation’ mode.

Eggs are an excellent way to start your day! According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, there is no significant link between egg consumption and heart disease. In fact, one study reports how regular consumption of eggs may help prevent blood clots, stroke, and heart attacks.

Here is a heart-healthy recipe to start your day off right! Don’t these look yummy? No, I didn’t come up with the idea –but they sure are pretty and look tasty! 🙂


Egg & Pepper


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 bell pepper
  • Margarine
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Leaf of cilantro for decoration

How to prepare, step-by-step:

  1. Prepare ingredients: pick big and wide bell pepper, smaller tomato and eggs
  2. Rinse bell pepper, remove stem and seeds and cut 2 big rings about 1/3” thick. Warm up skillet over moderate low heat and grease it with butter, add them to the skillet and fry on one side for about 3 mins.
  3. Slice 2 thin circles of tomato and position them in the middle of the bell pepper rings and season with salt and fry for 1-2 mins more.


4. Carefully crack an egg into one of the bell pepper rings right over the tomato, don’t worry if a bit of egg white gets out, you can simply remove it later on.


5. Season with salt and ground black pepper, & cilantro


6. Cook eggs under until cooked though the way you like (use lid if you want them medium or well done)


In health,