Coconut black Rice Pudding with Fresh Mangos

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I went to a Vietnamese Chinese market yesterday and bought some beautiful and delicious tropical fruits.  The mangos reminded me of the ones that I used to buy in Malaysia when I was filming Marco Polo.  This morning, I made a coconut black rice pudding with fresh mangos for breakfast. Rice with crushed peanuts is a usual staple for breakfast in Southeast Asia. It is as ordinary as oatmeal in the West.  Of course you can also serve this rice pudding as a dessert.  For me, coconut and mango is a perfect combination, like peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and chocolate.

I made my rice in the automatic rice cooker as I sliced the fruits. It’s simple and easy. I used the coconut milk beverage from the carton to cook the rice. And I drizzled about 2 to 3 tablespoons full fat coconut milk from the can on top of the pudding before serving. 

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Coconut Black Rice Pudding with Fresh Mangos

Ingredients:

1 cup of Thai black sweet rice or Forbidden Rice

2 cups coconut milk, beverage from the carton

1/4 cup or more xylitol or sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 to 3 tablespoons full fat coconut milk, can

2 tablespoon crushed peanuts, optional

2 ripe yellow mangos, peeled, pitted and sliced (small, flattened oval shape mangos)

Preparation:

Pour the rice, coconut milk beverage, xylitol or sugar, vanilla in the rice cooker and let soak for 30 minutes before pushing the on button.

When the rice cooker turns to warm, let rice sit for 5 minutes. Scoop rice into serving bowls and top with fresh mango slices, coconut milk from the can and crushed peanuts if using.

If you like your pudding wetter and creamier, you can also pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup of coconut milk from the can into the rice cooker after rice has been cooked. Mix with a non-scratch spatula before scooping into serving bowls.  If you use forbidden rice instead of sticky rice, it tastes better in the creamier version.

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I used the left-over coconut milk from the can and the mango to make coconut mango panna cotta. I will share the recipe another time. 

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Freekeh Pilaf and Coconut Macaroons

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There is a research study done by the scientists at Harvard School of Public Health that shows that people who consumed at least 10.22 grams of cereal fiber had a 19% lower risk of death.  If you can cheat death by eating delicious whole grains, then why not?

I reached for the bag of freekeh in the pantry immediately after I read the article because freekeh contains twice the amount of dietary fiber than comparable grains.  I made it with beets and chards and they turned out to be quite delectable.

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Freekeh and Beet Pilaf

Ingredients:

8.8 oz. (250g) cooked beets (I used 1 bag organic Love Beets)

1 bunch red chard, chopped

1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (to taste)

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons caraway seeds, lightly crushed

3 cups cooked freekeh

2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled or diced 1/2 cup (optional)

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Preparation:

Cook freekeh according to package instruction.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add the caraway, chards, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir over medium heat for 2 minutes until the chard are nicely infused with the garlic and oil.

Add the beets and freekeh. Toss together until the ingredients are well combined and the freekeh is heated through and colored with beet juice. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Transfer to a wide serving bowl or platter, and sprinkle the goat cheese over the top. Serve hot.

Freekeh is also great in salads.

Adapted from: nytimes.com

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And for desert I made coconut macaroons.  There is simply no other confections with higher dietary fiber than macaroons.  And you don’t need a pastry course to achieve the sweet toasted crunch and pillowy center.  A 10-year-old can pull it off.  Seriously.  It’s that easy.

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Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients:

3/4 cup (5 large) egg whites

1/4 cup xylitol

pinch of salt

10 oz sweetened coconut flakes (Baker’s)

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

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Preparation:

In a heavy saucepan combine egg whites, sugar, salt and coconut flakes, sliced almonds and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until all the ingredients combine together, about 12 minutes.

The mixture should be sticky and moist, not dry. Remove from heat and stir in the almond and vanilla extracts. Set aside on a dish and let it cool in the refrigerator about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 300°. Using a tablespoon, scoop tightly packed tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet covered with a silpat or parchment paper.

Bake 30 minutes or until golden.

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Adapted from: skinnytaste

Mango Coconut Chia Pudding

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Yesterday Audrey heard formally from the director that she got the title part in the film Adeline.  This spring break will be a very special memory for both Audrey and me.  We will be playing mother and daughter in a film together!  Audrey will be playing a girl who tries to take care of her mother’s messy life.  She was so happy about the news that she decided to make a dessert to celebrate, but the dessert needed to stay in the fridge overnight.  So we all had it this morning.  It turned out to be perfect for breakfast — so refreshing, nutritious and delicious.  It reminded me of the tropical tapioca that Audrey and I loved to eat when we were in Malaysia last year while shooting Marco Polo, but this version is much healthier.  This pudding is so easy to make that it is almost magical.  You simply put everything in a mason jar, close the lid and shake.  And tomorrow morning — voila!  You feel pretty witchy eating these fattened up translucent live chia seeds, too.

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk

1/2 cup almond milk or low fat coconut milk or milk (Audrey used 2% milk)

3/4 cup fresh ripe champagne mango, diced

2 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut (Audrey used unsweetened)

2 to 3 stevia packets, or 2 to 3 tbsp sugar/honey/xylitol, or sweeten to taste (Audrey used 1 pack stevia and 1 1/2 tbsp xylitol)

Audrey doubled the recipe and made two jars.

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Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a large container. Mix well and close container. Refrigerate overnight or at least 5-6 hours.

Adapted from: skinnytaste.com

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Check out our other coconut recipes:

Banana Snacking Cake with Cashew Coconut Cream

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When I went to the library to return a book for Audrey, I browsed the isles and chanced upon a book written by Maya Angelou, called Letter to My Daughter.  The first essay was titled Home.  I was immediately drawn to it because the word home is the most beautiful word that I have ever known. 

Home — not just a warm place where one can take off one’s stinky socks and plunk down without apology, but also where one feels completely free and unencumbered in a spiritual sense — is everything I have ever wanted.

No one has defined that sense of belonging more eloquently and poignantly as Angelou did in her essay: 

“Home is that youthful region where a child is the only real living inhabitant. Parents, siblings, and neighbors, are mysterious apparitions, who come, go, and do strange unfathomable things in and around the child, the region’s only enfranchised citizen.

I am convinced that most people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honor our credit cards. We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy as magnolias.

We may act sophisticated and worldly but I believe we feel safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.”

And home, of course, is also where we bake.

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This moist banana cake is gluten free, vegan and delicious.

BANANA SNACKING CAKE WITH CASHEW COCONUT CREAM

Ingredients:

1 Cup Almond Meal

1/2 Cup Spelt Flour

2 tbsp coconut flour

1/2 Cup Unsweetened, Shredded Coconut

1 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1/2 tsp. Sea Salt

2 packs Stevia

1/2 Cup blackstrap molasses

1/4-1/2 tsp. Cinnamon, plus extra for finishing

Few pinches of Fresh Grated Nutmeg

2 Large Extra Ripe Bananas

1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, warmed to a liquid

2 Eggs

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

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Ingredients for Cashew Cream:

1/2 Cup Raw Cashews, soaking in water for an hour

1/2 Cup Coconut Milk

1 Tbsp. Honey or Maple

1 tsp. Fresh Lemon Juice

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Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350′.

Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

In another bowl, smash the bananas really well, breaking down the chunks. Add the oil, eggs, vanilla and mix. Stir the wet into the dry ingredients.

Grease an 8×8 glass baking pan and pour in the mix. Bake on the middle rack for about 22-24 minutes. Being sure the center is just set.

Allow it to cool for about 5 minutes, cover it with a dish towel and let it rest for 30 minutes to an hour as it re-absorbs some of the steam.

For the cream, drain the cashews and put them in a food processor with the coconut milk, honey and lemon juice. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. It will have a bit of texture to it. The cream will keep in the fridge for about a week.

Add a bit of the cream to each piece of cake. Finish with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

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Adapted from: sproutedkitchen.com

Baked Coconut Yam Fries

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I caught Audrey listening to Taylor Swift while practicing piano a couple of times.  I also caught her practicing with one hand while snacking with the other a couple of times.  Finally I decided that her playing piano was a futile effort for everyone involved.  Peter and I sat her down a couple of weeks ago and told her that we were letting her off the hook, that it was okay with us if she didn’t play the piano any more.  Unexpectedly, she said she didn’t want to stop.  She insisted on continuing to take lessons.  We told her that it would be her choice to either practice much more conscientiously or to stop entirely.  We told her to think it overnight and let us know her decision the next day.  The next day Audrey solemnly declared that she would practice everyday and with focus, that she wanted to continue piano. 

It’s been about two weeks since her own decision to continue playing the piano and I am hearing a marked improvement in her playing.  Life is full of surprises.

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Baked Coconut Yam Fries

Ingredients:

1 yam (spiralized or sliced)

2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil (melted)

1/4 cup unsweetened shaved coconut

1/2 tablespoon xylitol or sugar (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Coat the spiralized or sliced yam with coconut oil and shaved coconut in a baking pan.  Spread a thin layer of yam in the baking dish. You may need two baking pans for this.  The fries will not be crispy if the layer is too thick.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes and then flip over. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until browned. 

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How I Quit Twin Peaks to Eat Coconut

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Twin Peaks is back after 25 years, but I highly doubt that I will be back as Josie.  I was the exotic beauty in an incestuous town, a poisonous fish out of water.  And we all know I that haven’t been these things for quite a while now.  However, a glimmer of hope still exists, for Josie was last seen trapped in a wooden doorknob.  Perhaps I can come back in one of the episodes as a doorknob witch? 

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I have made countless stupid mistakes in life and wanting to be written out of Twin Peaks was among the stupidest.  With the ignorance of my youth, and the influence of the PC factions in the Asian community, I naively rebelled against being an exotic flower.  I believed that I should want to be something more meaningful. When I asked to be written out of Twin Peaks, I didn’t realize how impossibly precious the opportunity of being a beautiful Ming vase was.  Unlike a real Ming vase, the value of which increases by the day, the human version, like a blossoming cereus, is only valuable for a few short hours.  Couldn’t I have searched for meaning after my once in a lifetime bloom?

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‘The Night-Blowing Cereus’ by Robert John Thornton, 1799

The project for which I quit Twin Peaks was called Turtle Beach, a disaster of a film that no one ever saw.  The only good thing was that it was filmed in Thailand, where the world’s best coconuts were grown.  I came to LOVE coconut during the 10 weeks of filming Turtle Beach on the balmy beach of Phuket. 

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Coconut love on “Turtle Beach”

People still walk up to me to tell me they loved me in Twin Peaks.  I would be walking on the street or shopping for groceries with a dirty face, and a stranger would begin to gush about Twin Peaks with me.  I have always been quite shocked and totally embarrassed at how people could make the connection between this slob and Josie Packard. 

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For desert tonight I served my family almond flour coconut chocolate cookies and coconut mango raspberry ice cream as I told them the story of how I ended up in a wooden doorknob so many years ago.  And how I came to love coconut.

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Sprouted Kitchen cookie recipe slightly revised:

1 ¼ cups almond meal (I added 1/4 cup of coconut flour)

¼ cup cacao nibs (I used Ghirardelli 100% unsweetened dark chocolate)

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup  muscovado sugar (I used sugar free maple syrup)

1 egg

3 tablespoons melted extra virgin coconut oil (I replaced it with non fat Fage)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)

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8 ounces mango
4 ounces raspberries
1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup
2 tablespoons raspberry or strawberry jam
1 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup non-fat Fage
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup shredded toasted coconut, plus additional for serving
This recipe was improvised based on a few online references.