There are generational pieces of information that make their way down the lineage of every familia. Recipes are perhaps one of the easiest to pass down from one generation to the next. For me, it meant standing in the kitchen and observing my Abuelita as she cooked Arroz Con Leche. Breakfast was the most engaging to watch because she would cook for my Abuelito, as well as my dad and uncle, and each of us. And breakfast also included leche.
Arroz con Leche
I have no doubt that Abuelita, with all her wisdom that naturally comes with age, knew that she was giving us the very best start to our day. With 9 essential nutrients, including 8 grams of high-quality protein, in each 8 oz. glass of milk, she was serving up a gracious supply of protein. Not to mention, with that many mouths to feed, milk is one of the most affordable ways to give kids nutritious protein at just .25¢ a glass. Add some rice, water, and cinnamon to a pan, and you could have an inexpensive, warm pan of Arroz con Leche to feed everyone. You only had to toast some bread and grab a glass of milk to complete your breakfast.
Funny thing? I never got tired of the deliciously sweet flavor of Arroz con Leche. Packed with protein, I stay fuller longer when I eat it and can’t pass up the flavor. Not to mention, the aromatic lingering of cinnamon and vanilla in the air always kept me coming back for more. Helping stir the mixture as it thickened became my morning task. Enjoying the savory dish with my family was the reward. Years after my Abuelita has passed, I still drift back to her small kitchen watching her cook as I recall the smells and flavors of my childhood.
As an adult, I remember those nuggets of wisdom passed down to me through the art of cooking. I want my children to live healthy lives and remind them of the benefits of milk, that include:
- the body needs protein to be strong and healthy
- protein at breakfast can help keep you feel full and satisfied, so you won’t feel hungry by mid-morning
- an 8-ounce glass of milk is a delicious, easy and affordable way to give your kids protein
- regular white milk has no added sugar— the sugar in milk comes from naturally occurring lactose
If you have a recipe that calls for both milk and sugar, try substituting foods such as ripe bananas, applesauce, spices and mangos to sweeten your foods. Looks like my Abuelita definitely knew what she was doing, even “way back when.”
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 3 cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3½ cups milk, warmed
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Ground cinnamon
- In a large pot, bring water, rice and cinnamon stick to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover pot and heat for 10-15 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is cooked. Add warmed milk to pot, cover and continue to simmer over low heat for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mixture should thicken as rice absorbs milk. Add vanilla and continue to simmer (uncovered) for an additional 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool before serving. Garnish with sprinkles of ground cinnamon, if desired. Serve warm or chilled. Enjoy!
Disclosure: I am partnering with DiMe Media on behalf of The National Hispanic Milk Life Campaign for this post. Regardless, the opinions are all my own.