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This sweet and soothing dessert is perfect for the rather wintry fall weather we’ve been having lately.

By Barbara Adach, R.Ac

The ingredients support Lung and Kidney (Chinese medicine organ systems that relate to the fall and winter seasons respectively) health to help us get through these shorter, colder, windier days.

If you haven’t tried black rice yet, this recipe is an easy way to do so.

Black rice is touted as a very healthy type of rice.  Unlike polished white rice, it retains its hull and, therefore, has a high fibre content.  The dark purple to black colour of the grains is due to the presence of potent and protective antioxidants called anthocyanins.

Most grocery stores carry black rice – you don’t have to go to a specialty shop to find it.  However, easy access to black rice hasn’t always been the case.  In ancient times, it was strictly reserved for China’s Emperor and family.  Hence its other common names ‘Emperor’s Rice’ or ‘Forbidden Rice’.

Ingredients

Pudding:

¾ cup of black rice

2+ cups of water

¼ cup dates, chopped

¼ cup of almonds, chopped

1 tart apple (Granny Smith, Winesap, Honeycrisp, etc.), peeled, cored and chopped

2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and chopped

1 tsp grated or minced fresh ginger

Garnish (optional):

1 tbsp. grated orange zest

1 tbsp. almonds, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Rinse rice with plenty of cold water.
  2. Place rice in a cooking pot along with 2 cups of water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.  Boil for about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Keep the pot covered.
  3. Add chopped dates and almonds. Continue to stir occasionally until the dates are very soft (at least 15 minutes).  If the mixture is sticking or starting to look dry, add more water to keep a moist texture.
  4. Add the chopped apple and stir to mix. Cook until the apple pieces and rice are soft.  Again, if the mixture starts to dry out, add more water.
  5. Add the pears and fresh ginger, mixing well. Cook until pears are soft.
  6. Spoon pudding into serving dishes. If desired, garnish with a little orange zest and chopped almond.  Serve warm.

Notes:

  • Black rice is quite hard and takes a while to cook to a pudding texture. To reduce cooking time, soak rice in 1 ½ cups of water for at least an hour.  Soaking overnight is ideal.  Discard the soaking water before cooking.
  • With cooking, black rice will change to a beautiful purple colour.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Nutrition Points:

  • Pears, apples, almonds and ginger all help to fortify the Lung organ system. This is exactly what we should be doing at this time of year.  The Lung system is associated with the fall season and the colour white.  Note that, while the peels of pears and apples may be a variety of colours, the flesh is white!
  • Black rice, like other types of rice, strengthens our digestive function. What is different about this rice is its striking deep colour.  Black, purple and dark blue foods assist the Kidney organ system which helps sustain us through the upcoming winter.  In addition, it is said to promote healthy Blood.
  • Dates, the main source of sweetness in this recipe, warm us, give us energy and also strengthen Blood.
  • Orange zest can help optimize digestion.
  • This pudding is well cooked and served warm. Both of these factors ease the burden on the Stomach and Spleen (TCM organs of digestion).