I’ve noticed a shift in my attitude toward food the last few years. Instead of enjoying it, I began to resent the thinking about, making, shooting, and even the consumption of food. That’s when I recognized my blog was no longer my way to document the recipes I liked, but rather the recipes I felt an obligation to post. It’s a stupid mindset: anticipating what others will like. That’s a formula for unhappiness. That’s not for me.
Around the same time, I let a number of nagging physical injuries pile up to the point where being active seemed to further damage my body than help it. I had had enough. It was high time I got my shit in order and put health first – both mental and physical – and that takes time. I’m using a combination of yoga, ice, ibuprofen, stretches, rest, physical therapy, and exercise to get myself back on track. Just in time for sliding season.
backcountry ski touring
resorts are opening more terrain each day
getting pups out to play in the snow
the first skijor of the season
Thanksgiving skiing is usually full of new aches and soreness when the season kicks off, but we hit the ground running (or skiing) early this year with those October storms and some indoor training. Instead of the traditional big turkey dinner carb bomb, we kept dinner normal and loaded our week with lots of outdoor exercise. I felt better about life, about myself. I just felt better. I can sustain this.
a little turkey, cheese, apple, dog treat indulgence for the pups
naptime after running around outside
Part of feeling better was that I had stopped eating dairy. You know how chocolate is that thing many people can’t resist? I can’t resist dairy. Well, I can resist milk – I’m not a fan of milk. But I love those delightful treats that come from milk and cream like custard, ice cream, mousse, pastry cream, whipped cream, caramel, pudding. It used to be the gastrointestinal distress was worth the gamble, but it’s not. It really isn’t.
Then a few months ago there was a brief discussion of alternative “milks” on public radio. Someone said they liked oat milk the best. I’m the person who regards food fads with great skepticism until they are no longer fads. I’m that person who discovers this awesome new thing years after everyone else has. So that’s me with oat milk. I merely wanted a non-dairy option for cold milk tea. I loved it. Then I wondered if I could make rice pudding with oat milk. And I did.
arborio rice, vanilla bean, oat milk, salt, sugar, cinnamon stick
As far as I can tell, the oat milk (or almond milk – I haven’t tried it, but people list the two as interchangeable) can be a 1:1 substitution for regular milk. I chose arborio rice because I like starchy short grain rice for pudding. You can use long grain, medium grain, brown, sushi, jasmine. I’m not sure about sweet rice or black rice, but you get the general idea. The method is pretty straightforward: keep it on a low simmer for over an hour (up to 90 minutes) and stir often.
bring the oat milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to a low simmer
add the rice and sugar and simmer until the rice is tender
Rice pudding is not a difficult recipe, but it requires babysitting. The stirring is to keep the bottom from accumulating into a gloppy mess. Bonus: oat milk doesn’t burn the way regular milk does, so it will be a little more forgiving. My rice took 75 minutes to become soft to my liking. I found the pudding got a little too thick around 65 minutes, so I poured an additional 1/2 cup of oat milk into the pan.
thick and creamy
Once the pudding is done, you can serve it warm or chill it completely and serve it cold. I like both. It keeps up to 5 days in the refrigerator, beyond which I can’t really say because I ate it. All. It’s creamy, and nicely flavored with cinnamon and vanilla, and I don’t miss the dairy one bit. If you’re looking for a non-dairy, or vegan, or more sustainable rice pudding – here you go.
topped with persimmon and pomegranate
great for breakfast or dessert
Oat Milk Rice Pudding
4 cups oat milk or almond milk, plus more if needed
1 stick cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
pinch of salt
1 cup arborio rice
3-4 tbsps granulated sugar (to taste)
Bring 4 cups of oat milk (or almond milk), cinnamon stick, vanilla bean (pod and seeds), and a pinch of salt to barely a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir the rice and sugar into the pan and return to a simmer. Keep it on the lowest simmer possible for 60-90 minutes (it took me 75 minutes) until the rice is tender, giving it a good stir every 3-5 minutes. If the pudding gets too thick before the rice is cooked through, stir in more oat or almond milk to achieve your desired consistency. Remove from heat. Makes 4 cups. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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