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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

Enjoy!

In health,

Reve~Johanna

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