I have a really hard time taking myself seriously when I write “puddin”. I am not a Southern lady and I do not dole out terms of endearment like synonyms for dessert. But “pudding spread” just doesn’t work for me, and this creamy, indulgent creation isn’t pudding at all. So, somehow my rationale is if there isn’t a “g” at the end there is no false advertising on my part.
This is a random snack/breakfast treat that I created on impulse a few weeks ago. Made with roasted sweet potatoes, coconut milk, chestnuts, nut butter, and some spices, it doesn’t have any traditional pudding ingredients that I know of, but the texture, and delight with which I consumed it, reminded me of pudding. White sweet potatoes are perhaps the sweetest I have encountered yet and I needed no extra sugar. But you could play around with it and add some honey or maple syrup if you wanted to. Japan is wonderful in that it has roasted chestnuts for sale all the time, shelled or unshelled, but they aren’t crucial to the recipe. I just like to pick out the chunks like I used to with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. And can I be a bit tangential and say, who decided vanilla was the best base for that flavor? Clearly chocolate would have reigned supreme.
These days I’ve replaced my dairy products with coconut products – oil, canned milk, or (in the US) tetra-packed drinking milk. Canned coconut milk is a staple in my pantry – I use it for everything from making ice cream or whipped cream to flavoring curries and soups. BUT with all canned goods, you want to watch out for BPA, or bisphenol-A, “a chemical variant of estrogen that is often used in plastics and other consumer products”. I’m wary of anything that might mess with my hormones, especially something that has been linked to obesity, diabetes, miscarriages, and cardiovascular problems.
Here is a handy list of cans made without BPA. Also note that plastic water bottles contain BPA ~ yet another reason to kick our bottled water habit to the curb and start using non-plastic reusable bottles!
My favorite type of coconut milk, Native Forest, is BPA-free. It also is the best tasting coconut milk that I have found to date. I don’t shy away from full-fat coconut milk as it helps regulate blood sugar, lowers LDL cholesterol, aids in weight loss, is anti-inflammatory and promotes a healthy immune system, among ten other things! The fat in coconut is full of medium-chain-fatty-acids, which is a “healthy fat” and waaaay better for you than rancid, processed vegetable or soy oils. Plus in Japan you simply can’t buy light coconut milk easily!
I was also intrigued by the statement that coconut is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic. I’d like to do a little more research, but for now I am taking Elana’s word for it, and also bookmarking her delicious coconut bars!
Really, I encourage you to try this coconut recipe free of added sugar first and see how you like it. Perhaps it is a bit off the wall from what you are used to, but this is something I can consume for breakfast (as a spread) or dessert (on its’ own with a tiny spoon) and still feel good. I love food that leaves me feeling healthy and satisfied, rather than leaving me with the feeling that the other shoe is going to drop and I will “pay” later for eating it. Instead I prefer to enjoy things like this pudding without worrying about the consequences or associating bad feelings like guilt with food.
This recipe is very forgiving in terms of substitutions. You can use regular or white sweet potatoes, but using the white variety will make it more dessert-like. If you use peanut butter it will be extra-rich, but I suspect cashew butter would be excellent. I’ve used peanut and almond butter with great results. Heck I would throw in sunflower butter if I could get it in this neck of the woods. The chestnuts are optional, but if you want a thicker “pudding” I suspect you could add a small amount of ground chia seeds as a thickener. A final note – I scrub the skins of the sweet potatoes before cooking and always eat them! They are full of vitamins and nutrients, and in this case I like to throw the skins back into the still-warm oven to crisp up, then top them with the spread.
Sweet Potato Pudding Spread
yields about 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups
1 large-ish white sweet potato, or enough to yield 1 cup of flesh when roasted
1/4 c canned coconut milk
1 1/2 T peanut, almond, or other nut butter
1/4 c cooked, shelled chestnuts, optional
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
Roast the sweet potato(es) at 425 degrees F for about one hour, or until easily pierced with a fork. Allow to cool slightly, then remove the skin and add the flesh into a blender or food processor. You can even mash by hand, but the texture will not be as smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender a few times. My blender usually produces a creamy consistency with a few chunks of chestnut, which I prefer. Use as a spread on the remaining sweet potato skins, apples, pears, toast or quick breads, waffles and pancakes, or enjoy as is. Once I ate it with some leftover coconut cream and it was a fabulous dessert! Next time I may experiment with some unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao nibs, but for now I am perfectly content without it.
Part of Diet, Dessert & Dogs Wellness Weekend Jan 26-30
Part of Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, April 17th