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FOOD WISE: Lighten up dessert for spring

Creamy Coconut Mango Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Mango Rice Pudding - Contributed

Who doesn’t enjoy a decadent dessert?

Whether you’re savouring a sliver of rich homemade chocolate cake for a birthday or sharing a slice of creamy raspberry cheesecake after a meal with a loved one, we all enjoy indulging for a special occasion. I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite twists to lighten up your desserts, as we welcome spring and the celebrations like Easter and Mother’s Day that go with the new season.

Cheesecake is so versatile – from chocolaty to fruity, the options are endless. While it’s great to indulge in the real thing every now and then, I have a creamy and tasty alternative you can enjoy more often. My secret is using ricotta cheese! Add some ricotta, maple syrup and vanilla to a food processor and blend until smooth. Serve like a parfait with some crushed graham crackers, fresh fruit or a homemade chia jam. Try adding some cocoa powder to the ricotta mixture and top with fresh bananas or raspberries!

Trifle is an English dessert that is so deliciously easy to make. It reminds me of summer, with the layers of fresh fruit and cream. Traditionally, trifles are made using cookies, leftover cake or brownies with layers of rich pudding and whipped cream. My tip: swap the cookies for some fluffy angel food cake. You can also layer in a mixture of vanilla skyr yogurt and a little swirl of lemon curd for some brightness. I love using fresh strawberries in a trifle but any of your favourite fruits will work great.

Want to try something completely different? This creamy coconut mango rice pudding is worth a try! The sweet Kent mango and coconut certainly scream “Spring is here!” Starchy and creamy, the sticky rice has the perfect texture. Try swapping the white rice in the recipe for PC sticky brown rice for extra nuttiness and fibre. Don’t have any mango on hand? Pineapple also works great with this recipe, as do fresh (or frozen) berries.

Of course, you can enjoy your typical decadent dessert but if you love having more-than-occasional sweets, these lightened-up desserts will surely satisfy any sweet tooth. Don’t forget to add some fresh fruit – it is nature’s candy, after all, and brings a deliciously fresh sweetness, vibrant colour and a nutrition boost to any dessert.

Creamy Coconut Mango Rice Pudding


½ cup (125 mL) PC Premium Medium Grain Sticky Rice

½ cup (125 mL) granulated sugar

Pinch salt

2 cups (500 mL) 2% milk

1 can (400 mL) coconut milk

Half PC Black Label Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean

2 large egg yolks

½ cup (125 mL) 2% milk

¼ cup (50 mL) unsweetened dried coconut

1 PC Flavour Burst Kent Mango


Heat rice, sugar, salt, 2 cups milk and the coconut milk in saucepan over medium heat. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape seeds out; add seeds and pod to saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 25 minutes, stirring frequently, or until rice is tender and mixture is thickened.

Stir together yolks and ½ cup milk in bowl. Stir in half of the rice pudding, the stir mixture back into sauce pan. Cook 2 minutes, stirring. Scrape mixture into bowl; place piece of plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding. Place bowl in larger bowl filled with ice and water, let cool 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast coconut in small frying pan over medium-low heat, stirring until golden and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Let cool.

Transfer rice pudding to refrigerator; chill for 90 minutes or until cold.

Discard vanilla pod. Divide pudding among six dessert bowls. Peel and dice mango; sprinkle mango and coconut over pudding and serve.

Serves 6

Per serving: 400 calories, fat 20 g (3 g of which is saturated), sodium 95 mg,
carbohydrate 48 g, fibre 1 g, protein 7 g

Have a nutrition question? Want to book an appointment or shop with the dietitian? Book online at www.atlanticsuperstore/dietitians or contact me by phone at (902) 921-0700 or by email at

Ellen Greenan is a registered dietitian with Atlantic Superstore in New Glasgow.

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