July 31, 2014 at 1:00 am

Try a rice pudding with a tropical ray of sunshine

Coconut milk and grated lime zest flavor this rice pudding. (Susan Russo)

Rice pudding is the quintessential comfort food. Its warm, creamy and unabashedly carb-y. These are the good carbs, though, the ones that make you feel like youre receiving a hug from your mom.

Everyone needs a little comfort now and again. And rice pudding leaves you feeling good every time.

Though I typically use traditional flavorings like cinnamon and vanilla, I went a little tropical with this one by using coconut milk, grated lime zest and toasted shredded coconut. It still has all the benefits of classic rice pudding but with a little sass. Top it with diced ripe mango, crunchy cashew nuts and toasted coconut, and youll be delighted in no time.

Coconut-Lime Rice Pudding with Mangoes and Cashews

4 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
cup Arborio rice
2 cups water
2 cups coconut milk (regular or light)
13 cup sugar
Zest of lime

Garnishes

1 small, ripe mango, diced
2 tablespoons sweetened coconut shreds, toasted
2 tablespoons unsalted cashew nuts, chopped
A pinch of lime zest

Place 4 tablespoons shredded coconut in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Shake the pan handle gently in a back-and-forth motion for 2-3 minutes to ensure even toasting, or until coconut is golden and aromatic. Set aside.

Add rice, water, coconut milk and sugar to a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir well, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, letting the rice bubble gently for 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, the rice will be plump and the pudding will be thick and creamy. Give it a taste the rice should be fully cooked yet maintain a slight firmness.

Remove from heat and stir in the lime zest and toasted coconut. Allow to cool slightly before placing in individual serving dishes. Garnish each dish with fresh diced mango, toasted coconut, chopped cashews and finely grated lime zest. Serves 4.

Per serving: 516 calories; 33 g fat (28 g saturated fat; 58 percent calories from fat); 55 g carbohydrates; 26 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 22 mg sodium; 6 g protein; 5 g fiber.