Have you ever eaten those blush colored rice candies, from the bright orange and green box, where the wrapper is edible? You put the whole sweet chewy square in your mouth and crunch on the rice paper covering before it starts to dissolve on your tongue? They’re called Botan Rice Candies and they’re a prominent taste from my childhood. For some reason getting to eat a piece of candy and its wrapper was a novelty I never got tired of.
As a person with distinct texture issues around food, I am someone who has never willingly eaten rice pudding. And yet, I’ve accidentally come up with a breakfast rice pudding recipe that recreates the flavor of those candies almost identically. And it’s extra creamy and vegan. And not mushy!
My newfound love of cooked, sweetened rice is a result of a recent trip to Greece. I was introduced to ryzogalo, a rice pudding that was served to me cold. And served to me at breakfast. And served to me with wonderfully creative toppings that built up the flavor and texture to something craveable.
The somewhat smushy texture of warm rice pudding has always made it unappealing to me as a dessert. But served cold, this rice pudding has a very pleasing al dente mouthfeel and I could add all kinds of crunch by choosing just the right toppings. So the pudding itself is a basic canvas, and you can personalize it in so many ways.
When I got home from my trip, I tried to recreate the ryzogalo. And the recipe I ended up liking the best coincidentally tasted like the Japanese candies because of the combination of sweet orange and rice flavors.
Let’s talk about the ingredients you need to make it first. Then we’ll focus on toppings to boost the nutrition and tailor it to meet your individual breakfast needs.
What do I need to make vegan breakfast rice pudding?
Arborio rice: This unique rice gives the rice pudding recipe its pleasing texture, so in my opinion it’s kind of a necessity. Arborio rice is also known as risotto rice, and it’s different than other types of rice because the grains remain firm and chewy, or al dente, after cooking. At the same time it has a creamy consistency that makes it feel a bit decadent. If you’ve ever eaten risotto, you know what I mean about this tantalizing balance of textures.
It can be a bit harder to find than like basmati or jasmine rice. I did a quick search and in my area of western Washington it’s available at Safeway, Walmart, Whole Foods, and Fred Meyer. And definitely always on Amazon as a backup plan.
Could you use a different rice? Absolutely, but it won’t come out exactly the same. Arborio rice is a short grain rice, so the closest substitution would probably be sushi rice which is a sticky short grain rice or Calrose rice, which is medium grain but cooks up sticky and firm. I ran out of arborio rice when I was testing this recipe, and used 1/3 Calrose and 2/3 arborio just to see, and it was very good, but not as perfectly pleasing on the tongue.
Soymilk: I use plain unsweetened milk, since I’m adding vanilla extract and sugar to the recipe myself. And I use soy intentionally to boost the protein content of this rice pudding. I am eating it for breakfast, and want to be sure I don’t miss a chance to pack in a protein-rich meal before I leave the house.
Could you use a different milk? Absolutely. I tested the recipe with oat milk and it was successful, and I expect the same would be true for cow’s milk or almond milk. But the protein content would vary. It would be equivalent with cow’s milk, slightly lower with oat milk, and quite a bit lower with almond milk.
Non-dairy heavy whipping cream alternative: This product didn’t even used to exist, but now there are several brands you can find in stores. I used Country Crock Plant Cream, but I also commonly cook with the one made by Silk.
Canned coconut cream: This is different from canned coconut milk, sort of. The ingredients are the same but it’s more of the solids and essentially none of the liquid, and it contributes a rich creaminess to the pudding. I like the 365 brand from Whole Foods, but you can find other brands at regular grocery stores too like Native Forest and Let’s Do Organic.
Sugar: At first glance, it would seem like granulated sugar should be vegan, but it gets complicated because of a processing step to whiten cane sugar that can put it in contact with bone char. To get around this you can buy beet sugar or organic cane sugar, neither of which use the bone char step. But if you want to know more, this is a great article: Is Sugar Vegan?
This breakfast rice pudding is sweet, but I have cut down the sugar from traditional recipes since I was using it for breakfast instead of dessert. You could certainly reduce it more if you’d like, and then really pump up the overall flavor with bold toppings.
Cornstarch: This secret ingredient adds to the extra creamy mouthfeel of the rice pudding and it was used in the ryzogalo I first tasted on the island of Crete. So I made sure to include it.
Orange zest: This may seem like an unnecessary ingredient, since it takes some elbow grease to zest and orange and you only use a small amount, but it really elevates the flavor with brightness and tang. And it’s definitely what makes the rice pudding especially reminiscent of the Botan Rice Candies.
Vanilla extract: Vanilla rounds out the overall flavor of the recipe and always seems to make sweet things taste better.
Cinnamon: A sprinkle of cinnamon on top is common for traditional Greek rice pudding, and an absolutely delicious addition.
Now let’s talk about making it interesting and nutritious, and the perfect breakfast for you specifically.
One serving starts with 6 grams of protein and 2 g of fiber. If you want to pump these up, you absolutely can.
What toppings could I add for extra protein?
almonds or almond butter
What toppings could I add for extra fiber?
dried fruit, like dried cherries or currants
granola (I’ve been making this Honey Almond Granola on repeat lately.)
frozen or fresh berries, like raspberries or blueberries
fresh or frozen mango
What toppings could I add for extra flavor?
ground nutmeg or ginger
mini dairy-free chocolate chips (The Enjoy Life brand is a pantry must-have for me.)
your favorite fruit compote or my recipe for cranberry sauce
The recipe makes 5 servings, so I whip up a batch on Sunday, put it in the fridge and I’m set for the week. It’s so versatile, you can change up the toppings every morning so you don’t get bored. Or, if you’re like me and thrive on predictability and repetition, you can enjoy identical bowls of ryzogalo every morning for 5 days in a row and feel completely satisfied.
I hope you give this recipe a try, and find a combination of toppings to dress it up that suits your tastebuds and breakfast needs. And depending on your particular past, it might also help you reminisce about the flavor of a favorite childhood candy or a relaxing stay on the Greek islands.Print
Kristine Duncan, Registered Dietitian
I’m a Registered Dietitian, the author of Veg Girl RD, and a vegetarian who loves to eat. I’m a nutrition nerd who teaches at the University of Washington and Skagit Valley College. I also write about nutrition professionally for magazines and books. If you want to know more, check out my About page.