The holidays are a time rich in tradition and food. Combine the two, and generation upon generation will be eating the same dishes at Christmas for decades (or even centuries).
While this is good (I love family traditions), it can also be difficult for those of us with food sensitivities or allergies. Our family has had to adapt and make changes to many of our favorite holiday dishes (like pecan pie, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and dinner rolls), and this year, I finally got around to modifying my mother-in-law’s rice pudding.
Rice pudding is pretty much a staple in my husband’s family at the holidays. We could forget all other food, but rice pudding is a requirement. Problem is, the dairy leaves me feeling less-than-stellar after I eat it, but I didn’t want to skip it altogether, it’s really that good.
So I did what any determined foodie did: got the original recipe from my mother-in-law that had received it from her mother-in-law, and I altered it to fit my family’s paleo lifestyle. I know rice is one of those iffy things that not everyone agrees on. Nikki Jencen wrote a guest blog about the pros and cons of rice that you might find useful if you’re on the fence or looking for more science on the matter. As for our family, we do eat white rice every now and then. We are able to tolerate that grain with no issues so we no longer cut it out completely.
If you are not on #teamwhiterice, you could still make this recipe but replace the rice with cooked tapioca pearls instead and have some tapioca pudding. I personally have not tried this, but I imagine you will have similar results. The flavor and creaminess of this pudding is so good, I really wouldn’t want you to miss out just because of the rice. It really is worth it.
The original family recipe called for 3 different types of milk: heavy cream, half and half, and 2% milk. That’s a lot of thick dairy right there. In order to get the same results, I wanted to use ingredients that were naturally smooth and creamy and wouldn’t require any thickeners like gelatin or starches. Coconut milk was a given, but I wanted to stay away from almond milk because I didn’t feel it would lend the right creaminess to the recipe.
Enter cashew milk. Oh man, if you haven’t made cashew milk before, you are missing out. It is so easy and creamy, and it’s the perfect replacement for the dairy in this recipe. You really should make it yourself instead of trying to find some at the store. The store brands have many ingredients, most of which aren’t really acceptable to me. The homemade version has two ingredients: cashews and water. Trust me, just do it.