Creamy Sweet Rice Salad (formerly known as Rosa Marina Salad)

I promised a short series on breakfasts several months ago…and then I dropped off the face of the planet again.  Sorry.  Life has changed once again and I should be posting more often now.

Preparing fun breakfasts has kinda dropped off around here, too.  I loved eating them, perhaps too much, because I gained weight!  Eating great breakfasts was supposed to help balance the rest of the day and help me eat less, but, apparently, I just love food so much that it didn’t work that way for me.  So, I’ve gone back to a nutrient-packed green smoothie most mornings and save the special breakfasts for special treats.

Rosa MarinaThis salad certainly works for a breakfast treat, or for a healthy dessert!  My preparation of it has changed over the years.  When I first made it, we were vegetarian, but not necessarily healthy ones ~ and it contained eggs, Cool Whip, white sugar, maraschino cherries….obviously, things were going to have to change in the salad when we became vegan and also gave up so many chemicals in our foods!  I finally nailed a tasty version of the salad without maraschino cherries (one of my childhood favorites.)  It still did contain the very small pasta called rosa marina or orzo, which helped the dressing to firm up into a nice, thick creamy dream.

Then…dun, dun, dun…enter gluten issues for me.  This salad was just one of the many casualties of my new way of eating.  It broke my heart (all of the situation, not just losing this salad.)  I tried and tried to come up with suitable replacements, but everything I replaced just failed.  Quinoa was too chewy; long-grained rice’s texture was off; the creamy dressing never set up.  It was very disappointing.  And my family was starting to make disparaging comments about the versions I created, because nothing was as good to them as the orzo!  (Never mind that white flour pasta isn’t good for you and nobody seems to make whole grain orzo.)

This time, I succeeded.  I adjusted the dressing to have less liquid.  I used short grain brown rice to give a better texture and since it is somewhat sticky, it allowed the creamy dressing to thicken properly.  Granted, my family still is a little on the fence about it, because they remember the pasta version and textures are a big deal to them.  Personally, I love it and am so happy to have it back in my life that I fix it despite their opinions.

I’ve been known to add sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen cherries, or blueberries to change things up a bit ~ although they can really change the color of the cream.  (I can guarantee the whole salad to myself this way, because of my fussy eaters, so adding it to individual bowls may work better.)  I have also been toying with the idea of using fresh pineapple, but I’m wondering if that would curdle the cream.  Let me know what adaptations you come up with to try!

Creamy Sweet Rice Salad

  • 1 c. short brown rice
  • 3/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 c. water (or according to rice package)
  • 2 20-oz cans unsweetened pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve 1 c. of the juice!)
  • 3 11-oz. cans of mandarin orange segments, drained (do NOT reserve the liquid)
  • 1 12-oz pkg. Morinu extra-firm tofu
  • 3/4 c. raw cashews (soak these for 4 hours or so if you don’t have a strong blender)
  • 1 c. reserved pineapple juice
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. evaporated cane juice crystals OR 1/4 tsp.+ pure stevia OR other equivalent dry sweetener

Cook rice according to package directions, but make sure it is quite well done so that it isn’t too chewy.  Meanwhile, place fruit into a large mixing bowl.  Blend the last 6 ingredients until very smooth and pour over the fruit.  When the rice is ready, mix it into the fruit and cream.  Refrigerate until cold and the cream sets up nicely.

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Piña Colada Millet Pudding for the Virtual Vegan Potluck

vvpLOGOWelcome to the Virtual Vegan Potluck!  I have left you my dish to enjoy (ah, the marvels of technology that allows me to schedule a post days in advance), but I won’t be joining you until tonight or tomorrow.  (I’m a Seventh-day Adventist and we spend the day in worship, rest, and family time from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.  While this kind of potluck is hardly work, it is something that I focus on intently when I wade through the marvelous recipes, ignoring everything and everybody else completely.  Therefore, I’ve chosen to wait until later.)  Have a wonderful time!  🙂

Most of my pudding recipes are made from non-dairy milk, flavorings, and cornstarch/arrowroot.  While they are extremely tasty, they aren’t as nutritious as they are just plain old dessert.  I decided to mess around with a millet pudding that has some whole grain goodness along with dessert properties.  Then I don’t feel as guilty when I eat a large helping!  And my hungry, hungry teens get more nutrients for their vast calorie intakes.

That being said, don’t think that this dessert is so healthy that it doesn’t taste like dessert…it is wonderful!  You can adjust the sweetness as you desire as long as you use a dry type of sweetener.  Increase, decrease – it shouldn’t affect the overall performance.

Pina Colada Pudding smallPiña Colada Pudding

  • 1 c. millet, rinsed and drained
  • 4 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • juice from half a small lemon
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (13.66 oz.)
  • 1 can pineapple in it’s own juice, undrained* (20 oz.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (I have had good success substituting half of this with 1/4 tsp. pure stevia powder ~ and it likely would work with all stevia using 1/2 tsp.)

In a heavy-bottom pan, simmer the millet in the water with the salt for about 30 minutes, turning the heat down as the water begins to be absorbed by the millet.  Cover it with the lid askew to keep it from boiling over.  Keep a close eye on this, because it can all of a sudden scorch – or boil over – if you aren’t turning the heat down soon enough.  If there is any water left after 30 minutes, you will need to continue cooking it for a while.  A lot depends on how hot your simmer is and how heavy your pot is.  If it begins to stick to the bottom, but still seems a bit damp, remove from the heat and cover completely with the lid.  Let it rest for 5-10 minutes and it will loosen from the bottom and finish cooking, absorbing the rest of the water.  Let cool with lid on for about 15 minutes so that you aren’t trying to blend super hot ingredients.  (Another option is to cook your millet in the oven, covered, overnight at 200°.  It will be perfectly fluffy in the morning and can be blended after a 15 minute cooling period.)

While the millet is cooking, blend the rest of the ingredients in a large capacity blender (56 oz.)  Add the warm millet and blend until the pudding is smooth.  (This makes for a VERY full blender.  If you have a smaller blender or just want to make sure you have enough room in a large blender, you will need to do this in batches with half of the pineapple/coconut mixture and half of the millet.)  Pour into a serving bowl or individual bowls and cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the pudding.  Chill thoroughly.

*This makes a soft pudding.  If you like a thicker pudding that is closer to sliceable, drain the pineapple first, but it may take longer to blend this way.

vvp Thanks for coming To visit the blog ~ Healthy Slow Cooking ~ that precedes mine in the Potluck, click here!
~!To visit the blog ~ Kelli’s Vegan Kitchen ~ that follows mine in the Potluck, click here!
To start at the beginning of the Potluck (there are about 170 of us this time!), click here!

IF there are folks who did NOT post for the vegan potluck like they were supposed to, and you cannot find links to the next blog in line, please, please, please, go to the beginning of the potluck (link is just above this paragraph) and you can click on missing links from there so that you don’t miss any of the marvelous recipes of those bloggers who DID post correctly.

Sweet and Sour Bok Choy and Tofu

I love sweet and sour stir-fries.  Half of my children do, too.  The other half and hubby, however, do not…or should I say DO NOT.  If I’m going to make it, I do it for lunch for myself and anybody who might be interested.

This week I found some organic bok choy and knew it was time to experiment.  This is just a simple little dish, but it makes a very satisfying lunch.  I didn’t have time to cook any rice and had none leftover, either, so we ate it plain for a late “noon” meal.  It was delicious.  I would have liked more of the greens from the bok choy for eye-appeal, though.  Some sweet red pepper pieces would have helped with the colorfulness, too.  For a better view of the picture below, click on it.  It looks tastier that way.  🙂

Sweet and Sour Bok Choy and Tofu

  • approximately 2-3 T. virgin coconut oil, decrease if desired
  • 1 small onion, quartered and sliced
  • 1 small bunch bok choy, chopped into separate pieces of stem and leaves
  • 1/4 lb. of frozen diced pineapple pieces, or to taste
  • 1 T. minced ginger, or more
  • 1 lb. extra-firm tofu, diced
  • 1 1/2 T. chicken-style seasoning
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1/4 c. demerara sugar, or brown sugar
  • 1 T. (loose) cornstarch
  • 2 T. water

Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet.  Toss in onion, bok choy stem pieces, pineapple, ginger, and tofu.  Squirt Bragg’s back and forth over pan, stirring to distribute.  Begin cooking on medium high heat.  Sprinkle the chicken-style seasoning over all and stir well.  Cook for 5 minutes or so.  Add bok choy leafy pieces and demerara or brown sugar.  Cook until bok choy is as tender as desired.  Stir together cornstarch and water and pour it into the skillet, stirring constantly.  Add more Bragg’s as desired for flavor and saltiness.  Serve plain or over rice.

Variations:  Add sliced/diced mushrooms, celery, and/or bell peppers.  You may need to increase ginger, seasonings, and sweeteners, depending on how much you add.

Non-Alcoholic Pina Colada Fizz

While I was trying to make a pina colada pudding of some sort, I was doing some tasting as I went.  (Hey, I had to make sure everything was good, right?)  At one point, the creamy stuff in the blender began to taste so yummy that I kept tasting and knew I needed to stop!  Finally, a light bulb went off and I poured a smidge into a small cup and started to play with that, too, in order to make a virgin pina colada.  (I figured at least one recipe was bound to turn out well.)  Just in case it was all in my imagination that my creation tasted amazing, I fixed a similar smidge for one of my willing taste-testers.  When he gave it the thumbs-up, I was content.

Later that evening, my son-in-law was over who likes all things “fancy non-alcoholic drink” and I told him about it.  He burst my bubble.  He told me that pina coladas don’t have anything fizzy in them.  Well…bummer!

It was late that night when I got my next light-bulb moment.  Why not just change the name?  Who cares what it is “supposed” to be ~ this was good and I wanted to share it!  😀  So, here you have it….although, if you don’t want the fizz, just leave it out.  It is decadent and delicious without the sparkling water, too!

Pina Colada Fizz (non-alcoholic)

  • juice from 1 small organic lemon
  • 2 cans Thai organic coconut milk (I used the full-fat version), chilled
  • 1-2 cans pineapple chunks*, undrained, preferably chilled
  • 1/2 tsp. pure stevia
  • 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • Canada Dry sparkling seltzer water, raspberry flavor, chilled, optional

In a 56-oz blender, whiz the first 5 ingredients together until very smooth.  Serve in glasses mixed with the sparkling seltzer water to taste. You should probably run a taste test to see what proportion you like best.  Garnish with fresh pineapple wedges and little umbrellas, if desired.  (Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of these pretties on hand.)

The cream in the blender makes about 7 cups if you use 1 can of pineapple.

*If you wish to use fresh or frozen pineapple, you probably will want to decrease or omit the lemon juice, because it will be tangy enough without it.  In making a half recipe, I threw in 1 1/2 c. of fresh pineapple.  It was very good this way.

Green and Not-So-Green Smoothies

I’m sure by now that you’ve at least heard of green smoothies if you read very many healthy-eating blogs.  They are the easiest way to increase your leafy green consumption without spending all day chewing your “cud.”  🙂  They are a great way to get kids to eat their veggies, too…….or maybe not.  If your child is color blind, perhaps you can sneak it passed them.  I happen to have a child old enough to know better who flatly refused a green smoothie, even when his relatively-food-fussy father said they tasted good!  (Perhaps even you have dug in your heels against the thought of drinking “grass.”)  So, what is a mom, or a wife, in some instances, to do?

Camouflage, of course!

Remember that fussy child of mine?  He has one favorite smoothie – only one.  It contains a frozen banana, frozen strawberries, stevia, cocoa powder, and vanilla Silk soymilk.  He prefers it to be drinkable, rather than soft-serve-like.  After his staunch breakfast refusal of a green smoothie, he asked for his usual for lunch.  He left the kitchen as I got things out to make it.  I peeked to see if he was busy.  Ah, the coast was clear.  I whipped out the organic baby spinach, rinsed a few leaves, and threw it in.  Just to be on the safe side, I was liberal with the cocoa powder.  Ah…a safe deep brown color showed up as the blender whirred.  I ran it a little extra to make sure no tiny leaf particles remained – and snagged the only one I saw as I poured it into his cup.  When he was done I asked him how it had come out.  “Best ever mom – super creamy this time!”  LOL  Success!

The next time he asked for a smoothie, I put in a whole extra-large handful of the same spinach.  He still couldn’t tell.  The 3rd time I did the same.  I was wondering when to tell him.  That day his brother-in-law was over and pretended to take the smoothie from me for himself.  This man has an allergy to leafy greens!  I had to stop him from swigging some.  The jig was up.  R didn’t bat an eye when I told him what I had done.  He said as long as he couldn’t see it or taste it, he didn’t care what I put in the smoothie!

R’s older brother allows me to fix him daily “green” smoothies…but they must contain some kind of berry to mask the color.  The only trouble is that unless you put enough berry in there, the color leans toward brown or avocado green!  Much less appealing.  This morning I put raspberries in and when J sat down to eat, he was expecting mild chocolate flavor by the color and was startled to find coconut-raspberry.

Honestly, I’m the one in the family who can drink an intensely green smoothie without batting an eye.  As long as it has enough fruit and/or coconut flavor to balance it, I love it.  I feel so much more energy – and so fewer cravings – since I started making these!  (I’ve been known to have one for every meal.)  The only time I ever had trouble was when I put some golden beets in on suggestion of another great blog.  I don’t recommend using very much beet at a time if you choose to use that detoxifying veggie.

Here are my favorite things to use (not necessarily all at once, mind you!) in green smoothies (choose organic as much as possible) ~ baby spinach (the mildest taste effect), red curly kale (the organic version smells like flowers!), cucumber (make sure it’s not a bitter one), a celery stick, frozen blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, mango, and/or pineapple, cocoa powder, Silk coconut milk, and bananas.  I’m sure there are other things that work well, but this is what I have used to experiment thus far.  I also tend to throw some ground flax or chia seeds into mine.

It is fun to experiment with taste preferences.  Try blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, apples, pears, etc.  Let me know what your favorite is!  Or if you just aren’t brave enough to try.

Chocolate Green Smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 6 oz. of frozen strawberries (I just toss in 1/2 of a 12 oz. bag)
  • 1-2 heaping spoonfuls of cocoa powder
  • a sprinkle of pure stevia powder (optional)
  • a handful of washed baby spinach
  • enough non-dairy milk to make the blender turn (this will depend on the texture you like your smoothies to be – soft-serve or drinkable, and on your blender power)

Whiz all in blender until smooth.  Serve in glass or bowl.

Truly Green Smoothie

  • 2 red curly kale leaves, stem end broken off
  • 1-2 handfuls of washed baby spinach
  • a 3-4″ cucumber spear
  • a 3-4″ celery stick
  • 1 c. (or more) frozen mango chunks
  • 1/2 c. (or more) fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
  • a sprinkle of pure stevia powder (optional)
  • 1-2 T. ground flax or chia seed (optional)
  • enough Silk coconut milk to make the blender turn (this will depend on your blender power – I like a thick green smoothie somewhere between solely drinkable and spoonable)

Whiz all in blender until smooth.  Serve in glass or bowl.

Once you are accustomed to the green smoothie look and taste, increase your greens and decrease the fruit for more of a veggie-packed whollop.  You can add a banana to the mix for extra creaminess and sweetness.