Rice Pudding: Easy, Comforting, Delicious...Healthy?

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This traditional dessert has been making a comeback on social media, but is it a good idea to eat this comfort food regularly? Find out if you want to get involved with the recent renaissance of this dessert.

Good

The sweet, rich and creamy mixture is downright delish. You’ve got to love that it’s made from simple ingredients like rice, milk, sugar and eggs. While this is a dessert, it does offer some nutritional benefits, including almost 10 grams of protein and 15 percent of the daily recommendation for bone-building calcium per cup.

Most rice pudding recipes can be easily modified to be lower in fat and to remove common allergens like eggs and dairy; rice is also naturally gluten-free. If you choose to make it with whole-grain brown rice, it can add to your daily fiber intake. Boosting nutrition by adding fruit is also a tasty option. Add canned pumpkin to the custard and serve it topped with fresh seasonal fruit.

There’s also an advantage if you choose to buy your rice pudding instead of making it: Unlike many other types of store-bought puddings, most brands of rice pudding have an impressively simple ingredient list. Most contain nothing but low-fat milk, rice, sugar, eggs and salt.

Bad

The calories and fat in rice pudding can stack up quickly. Recipes made with whole milk, cream, egg yolks and gobs of sugar can create a dessert with an excessive amount of calories, fat and sugar. Many popular recipes will tip the scales at far over 300 calories per serving.

Bottom Line: A thumbs-up with a few stipulations. Most rice pudding recipes keep it super simple, making this dessert a good choice to satisfy a sweet craving. Choose a recipe that uses lower-fat ingredients to keep the calories conservative.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.