Rice pudding is a food that you either love or hate. Thanks to a modern surge in rice pudding popularity, a variety of rice pudding-centric restaurants and bistros can be found in almost any major city. Rice pudding is often touted as a healthy alternative to other creamy desserts like ice cream, but like most sweet treats, should only be enjoyed infrequently. Luckily, if you attempt to make rice pudding yourself, you can save calories and control the ingredients used to make rice pudding a healthier option.
Rice pudding, when made with natural ingredients, can be a healthier alternative to ice cream and other treats. With fewer calories than other dairy treats, rice pudding offers around 4 grams of protein per 1/2 cup, a good course of calcium and is low in cholesterol. A 5 to 6 ounces serving of rice pudding contains anywhere from 130 to 230 calories. Rice pudding can be fairly high in carbohydrates, running anywhere from 20 to 46 grams, depending on the type of rice pudding that you enjoy. Rice pudding also offers a small amount of both vitamin A and vitamin C per 5 ounce serving.
Store Bought vs. Homemade
Rice pudding can be made at home, which allows you greater control over which ingredients are used. Unfortunately, making your own rice pudding at home can make it difficult to gauge a healthy serving size. Store-bought natural rice pudding offers the treat in single 6 ounce serving sizes. Because the nutrition information is printed directly on the cups, you know exactly how much of each nutrient is in the rice pudding. While homemade rice pudding may taste fresher and have healthier ingredients, it's more difficult to discern the nutritional content.
Rice pudding is made from a fairly simple recipe and shouldn't have more than 10 ingredients on the packaging. Avoid rice pudding that is made with preservatives, artificial flavoring and other synthetic chemicals. Instead, look for ingredients like rice, milk, eggs and sugar. The taste of rice pudding can be altered by adding things like coconut milk, cinnamon, raisins and other additives. Adding other ingredients may alter the caloric content and nutritional information, so you'll need to calculate the additions separately.
While rice pudding is a healthier alternative to foods like ice cream or traditional pudding, it should be consumed as a treat and never as a health food. The thick, cream-based pudding is too high in calories to be considered a diet food, and adding toppings at a rice pudding restaurant can significantly increase caloric content. If you're still craving a creamy treat, look for sugar-free versions of rice pudding and use spices and flavorings to make up for the lack of sweetness. Soy milk can also be used in place of regular milk to help cut calories.