Any family receiving assistance from WIC or TEFAP understands the challenge of keeping food interesting and nutritious. Both give a lot of great raw foods that really help stretch your budget. But occasionally you have to get really creative to use it all. And I’m bound and determined to use all of it. To receive assistance and throw it away is a major sin in my book; if you’re throwing it away you obviously don’t need assistance that bad.

Last winter for about 6 months in a row we received from TEFAP oatmeal, rice, raisins and canned applesauce, all in quantity. What to do with all that besides have applesauce and oatmeal with raisins? And while we’re at it, keep it interesting and “not junk” food.

When I’m looking for recipes one of my rules is they can’t use anything I don’t usually have around or that I’d never use in anything else. Fortunately my pantry always has staples in it: flour, yeast, baking soda and powder, brown and white sugar, vanilla. WIC keeps us in milk and eggs. Diligent searching on the internet got me two absolute gems of recipes. I’ve played with them and made them my own, and I hope you enjoy them!

The Very Best Creamy Rice Pudding Recipe EVER!

This recipe requires you to babysit it a bit; you’ll want to stir the rice and milk frequently as scortching it will ruin it. But it’s not at all hard, just time consuming. It’s the ultimate recipe: a tasty special desert, low sugar, uses inexpensive ingredients, and is full of warm fuzzy Mom Love. Note: I like my rice pudding very vanilla-y; you could reduce the vanilla to 1 teaspoon without any problem.

6 servings

1 qt. milk plus 1 cup water
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp. short grain rice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, beaten with the sugar
1 tbsp. (heaping) flour
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
4 tbsp. butter or margarine

In a large sauce pan, add the milk, water and rice. Cook on medium low until rice is completely tender; be patient, this can take a long time. Take out 1 cup and pour into the egg, sugar, flour mixture to temper the hot ingredients. Add this to the rice mixture. Add the vanilla and bring to a low boil for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the margarine or butter. Pour into a 2 qt. casserole. sprinkle with cinnamon. Or, you can pour into individual dessert dishes. Let cool about 1 hour before placing in refrigerator to finish cooling and setting.

Oatmeal Applesauce Cookies

These cookies are low fat, whole grain, low carb, and have no added sugar. Despite all that, they’re really yummy! The batch is deliberately small because they don’t keep well. Freeze extras (they thaw fast) or keep them in the fridge. Oh, make them big and they make great ice cream sandwhich cookies. Another benefit: these are quick. Maybe a whole 30 mintues from start to finish.

Qty: 24 bite-sized or 12 the way I make ’em

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries, or dried blueberries (or mix and match!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and grease cookie sheets. Combine dry ingredients except oats and fruit. Beat oil and egg together, then add applesauce and vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients, stirring well. Mix in oats and fruit. Drop onto greased sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes.

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