Our alternative to those delicious, but not celiac friendly, homemade oat bar recipes! As a single mom who has to rush from place to place each day, I am always on the lookout for a recipe that tastes great, offers me portability in a meal (quick post-drop-off river walk anyone!?), and is providing me with some fruit and whole grains. When you need to make a dinner meal that contains rice, just cook extra for this meal which is easy to throw together and bake in the background while you are busy getting ready for the day. You’ll be able to serve your family a hot breakfast and by the time you all finish, it should be cooled and ready for the refrigerator. It’ll offer an easy after school snack or midday mom snack, as well. Not to mention the dessert options this meal lends itself easily to, keep reading below.
This is also a versatile meal that can be made with alternative grains such as quinoa, amaranth, or other whole grains your family enjoys. What we love about it is that it is healthy enough to start the day and good enough to serve as a dessert! For the breakfast version, you can keep it simple and serve it hot with a light and warm maple syrup drizzle. You can also drizzle it with some warmed nut butter for added protein and fat, especially if you have a little one (or adolescent child) who needs extra calories. A topping of warmed cooked down fruit is also out of this world good, and perfect for cold winter mornings. For desserts, you can serve it covered with fresh off the stove hot vegan pudding or custard (pour it over before cooling it to set). Lastly, this bake is easily cut into squares and wrapped up in wax paper for a portable meal on the go. Family park outings, hikes, errand runs that you know will take your mealtime away.
2 1/2 cups cooked rice (we like to mix 1 cup short grain brown rice with 1 1/4 cups white rice if we want it to double as a dessert but keep it all whole grain when making it for breakfast only, especially if we plan extra toppings)
1 1/4 cups non-dairy milk (we like almond milk but use your favorite)
1 Tbsp ground flax seed (alternatively, if you only have chia seed that works too)
2 cups ripe bananas (chop them if you plan to leave them as chunks, just fold them in before adding the topping instead of blending them with the wet ingredients)
1 4oz pouch of plain applesauce
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt (use 1/8 tsp if your rice was salted when it was cooked)
Topping options: 2 Tbsp almond meal or ground nuts of choice mixed with 2 Tbsp sugar of choice. For alternative serving options, see the end of this posting.
- Warm your oven to 400°F before starting on the next step.
- In a food processor, mix 1 cup of the rice with the bananas (leave the bananas as chunks if you prefer more texture in the final product but we have found the little ones prefer a smoother result so I blend it in), applesauce, almond milk, spices, vanilla extract and flax seed meal.
- Put the remaining 1 1/4 cups of rice into a baking dish 8″ X 8″ or close in size. If you have the time and desire, you can make individual sizes using ceramic ramekins which works especially well for fancy dinner desserts or infant pre-portioned meals. Pour the blended mixture over this and mix with a spatula to ensure the bottom of your dish will not have sticky burnt rice.
- Mix up your topping in a small bowl. I prefer the almond meal with brown sugar. If you want a crunchier topping, mix in 1 Tbsp. coconut oil into it as well. Sprinkle over the top of the rice pudding.
- Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 5-10 more minutes. If you want a drier result for on-the-go bars, bake for 15-20 minutes longer but check it every 5 to prevent burning.
- Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving. Test before serving to a young child using your toddler safe spoons. If you wish to cool it quickly, mix your ride pudding with some cold vanilla yogurt (or flavor of choice; berry flavors also go well with this bake).
- Once cooled completely, cover with a reusable dish cover and store in the refrigerator. It keeps well for several days (not that it will last that long!).
The result of this is a fairly firm baked rice dish, though, you can bake it longer for bars. With the shorter bake above, it will come out like any baked rice casserole you make (soft and “creamy” but will keep its shape fairly well). You can mix it with creams to make it more liquid if desired, especially for infants starting solids. However, it is easily smashed using only their tongue and gums so it should be a safe option. In fact, since the ingredients are already baked, you could easily make this without baking it for a quick “breakfast bowl” meal that anyone would love! As always when feeding a baby, test before serving.
Alternative preparation and serving options include serving it like trifle by layering the bake with yogurt/custard/pudding and cooked or fresh berries (one especially tasty option is making a strawberry and sugar mixture you mash just like for a strawberry shortcake) or as a warm or cold breakfast bowl (do not warm your oven for this option as it does not require baking)! Topping suggestions for the bowl options are below:
- Top with fresh or cooked berries
- Mix in nut butter (almond and cashew taste the best)
- Drizzle with honey or maple syrup for your sweet craving
- Top with chopped nuts and/or dried fruit
- Top with hulled hemp seeds
- Top with non-dairy yogurts (try the Greek versions for a bit more protein)
- Add a pinch of turmeric along with some nut butter to make it “golden”