The other day I made raw vegan banana pudding for my children by blending bananas, dates, and chia seeds. One of my kids protested, "I want REAL pudding!" He was referring to the stuff that comes in the little plastic cups and has next to ZERO nutrition. I had to laugh.
So here is my challenge: To come up with something that is nutrient dense, with no processed sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or unhealthy fats, that my children will LOVE.
The little guy who wasn't enamored by the banana experiment is at home sick today, and chocolate pudding is one of his favorite foods. So how can I make it super healthy and good for fighting winter viruses? I went to work making a pudding with natural healing properties and terrific chocolate pudding flavor.
Recently I read that papaya is good for fighting colds. Manuka honey, while not vegan, is said to be effective both internally and externally against both viruses and bacterial infections. I began with two of the main ingredients for a popular recipe for raw chocolate mousse and improvised from there.
Raw Dark Chocolate Pudding with an Extra Helping of Love
2 medium avocado, pitted and peel removed
1/2 to 1 whole medium papaya, peeled and seeds removed. (reserve seeds for salad dressing - delicious!)
1/3 cup plus 2 tbsps cocoa powder, (raw cacao powder is better if you have it)
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 1/2 tbsp raw manuka honey (substitute pitted dates to taste if you don't use honey)
2 tsp xyletol
1 tsp ground vanilla bean
1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt
(note: keep chia seeds at the ready in case your mixture doesn't turn out thick enough, and a date or two in case you want it sweeter.)
Process all ingredients in a food processor until glossy and silky. I had chia seeds on hand in case the mixture was too soupy, but they weren't needed. Taste and adjust. You don't want to taste the papaya - just sweet chocolateyness. For this reason, you might want to start with half the papaya, taste, and continue to add more as desired. Also, I think it's best to not use too much manuka honey - it has a strong flavor that will compete with the chocolate. If this isn't sweet enough for your liking, and you don't wish to increase the xyletol, try adding a pitted date or two.
Note: This makes 4 generous servings. We found that the combination of papaya and avocado does NOT keep well. It's delicious when it's freshly made, but the next day the leftovers tasted a bit. . . odd. So make this one up right before you intend to eat it.
The verdict? The little guy loved it and said thank you. The other one reminded me to write this one down - it's a keeper!