Just Desserts

Ida's Rice Pudding

Growing up my mother made a rice pudding that I just loved. I recently found her recipe and decided to try making a healthier version (not that her's was so bad!)

This recipe has a number of versions; vegan, vegetarian, baked, and non-baked. The directions below will walk you through each.

Ingredients (Vegan Version)

1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
2 cups coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons xylitol
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon (optional. Can add while cooking, and/or sprinkle on pudding when served)
Pinch salt for cooking rice

Ingredients (Vegetarian)

All of the above plus:
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
3/8 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
3 egg whites for Meringue and 1/2 tablespoon xylitol (if baking)


  1. Cook the brown rice in water (follow package directions)
  2. When the rice is cooked, add 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk and 8 tablespoons of xylitol. Stir frequently until it's thick and creamy. Lower heat to low and add remaining 1/2 cup coconut milk, egg yolks, vanilla, and cinnamon. Cook for a couple of minutes more, then remove from heat. You can service this warm, sprinkled with cinnamon (optional) or bake (see below).
    Notes: For a vegan version simply eliminate the egg. It's delicious without it.
    If you plan on baking the rice pudding with a meringue topping, remove from heat while the mixture is still loose. Otherwise, it will get too dry in the oven.
  3. Pour rice pudding into baking pan.
  4. Make meringue. For each egg white use 1/8 teaspoon of Cream of Tartar (this will prevent the meringue from collapsing from the heat). The amount of egg white you need depends on the size of the pan you use. (I actually used two, but three would have been perfect.)
    Optional: If you have a VitaMix or other device that allows you to mill grains, mill 1/2 tablespoon of Xylitol. It will create a powder, identical to powdered sugar. Add it to the egg whites. Beat until you get stiff peaks and spread on top of rice pudding.
  5. Place in preheated, 400-degree oven until peaks are golden (approximately 8 to 10 minutes)
  6. Serve warm out of the oven, straight off the stove, or chilled from the refrigerator. Simply delicious any way you serve it.

    Baked Apples

    One of the things I love about the Fall is Baked Apples. The recipe for this one is inspired from my vegetarian, 3 Day Fall Detox. It's delicious and satisfying.


    1 cup steel cut oats
    2 cups hot water
    1 apple, cored and chopped
    2 apples, cored
    1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    pinch of sea salt
    1/4 cup pure maple syrup or 1 tablespoon xylitol (optional)
    1/4 cup chopped walnuts


    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
    2. In the meantime, bring water to a boil, and add in oats, cooking according to directions.
    3. When oatmeal is done, add in chopped apple, sea salt, walnuts and optional xylitol or maple syrup.
    4. Stuff apples with mixture, and top with cinnamon.
    5. Place apples in the baking dish with hot water on the bottom. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.

    Vegan Banana Bread Muffins

    Whether you're vegan, vegetarian, or just looking for a healthy version of banana bread, you should give this recipe a try. What I love most is it doesn't have any sugar, its sweetness comes from the overly ripe bananas. (The original recipe is from the Organic Authority website at http://www.organicauthority.com.)

    Here's the recipe with some slight modifications:


    1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (or spelt or buckwheat flour)
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup almond, rice or coconut milk
    1/4 cup safflower or olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3 very ripe medium bananas (they should be brown on the outside but still white inside), mashed
    1/4 to 3/8 cup dried apricot chopped (or other dried fruit you love)


    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
    2. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
    3. In a separate bowl smash the bananas, add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well.
    4. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. It should be smooth, but not difficult to stir. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of vegan milk , but I found it needed a 1/4 cup more.
    5. Pour the mixture into the muffin tin or loaf pan greased with the oil and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is light brown and a toothpick comes out of the center clean. When I used a muffin tin, they were perfect after 20 minutes. When I used a loaf pan, it took much longer to cook, approximately 35 minutes.

    Palmier Cookies Two Ways

    This recipe is adapted from Ann Burrell's recipe from her Food Network show, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef.

    I made some simple changes to her recipe: I replaced sugar with xylitol, and used 1/2 cup of xylitol for both sheets of puff pastry instead 1/2 cup of sugar for one sheet, cutting down the sweetness of the cookie (I like desserts that are not too sweet). You can add more if you want them sweeter.

    I made a second batch using crushed walnuts instead of the orange zest.

    WARNING: These cookies are so delicious you can't stop eating them.


    1/2 cup xylitol
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    Zest of 1 small orange
    1/4 cup chopped walnuts
    12-ounce package of frozen puff pastry (2 sheets) This is an approximate size. It will vary depending on where you purchase. Just be sure you do not buy any frozen, commercial brand made with trans-fats instead of real butter.

    Directions for Palmiers with Orange Zest

    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
    2. Combine 1/4 cup xylitol, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and orange zest in a bowl.
    3. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mixture on the cookie sheet and lay one sheet of pastry on top.
    4. Spread remaining xylitol mixture on top of the dough and gently roll out with a rolling pin until the dough is a 1/8- inch thick rectangle.
    5. Working from the short ends of the rectangle, roll up one end until it is to the middle, and then do the same with the other side. Gently press each roll together, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour so that the dough firms up again.
    6. Cut into 1/4-inch slices and lay one inch apart on sheet trays. Because the puff pastry is made with a lot of butter, you do not need to grease the sheet.
    7. Bake for approximately 10 to 12 minutes on one side (watch them carefully), then turn over and bake for another 6 or 7 minutes.
    8. Remove and cool.

    Directions for Palmiers with Chopped Walnuts

    1. Combine 1/4 cup xylitol and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
    2. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mixture on the cookie sheet and lay the pastry on top.
    3. Spread remaining xylitol mixture on top of the dough and sparingly sprinkle on the walnuts. (Too many nuts will prevent the dough from sticking together when you cut the slices)
    4. Carefully roll out with a rolling pin until the dough is a 1/8- inch thick rectangle.
    5. Follow the instructions above

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