Tag Archives: coconut milk

Healthy Tropical Banana Pudding

When I was growing up in the South, almost every event and family gathering would include a large bowl of banana pudding: homemade custard, sliced bananas, Nilla wafers and a mountain of freshly whipped cream. The sweet, gooey dessert was one of my favorites, and I often asked for a side of extra wafers to dip into the layered pudding. With those delicious memories, I set out to create a lightened-up, tropical spin on my beloved banana pudding.

Cornstarch-thickened pudding, also known as cheater’s pudding, creates the same thick, luscious texture as homemade custard, with almost none of the fat. For the pudding base, I subbed coconut-milk beverage in place of regular milk for a subtle tropical flavor. While you can use canned coconut milk for more prominent flavor, I prefer the watered-down beverage option for a light, coconut taste.

Once the pudding is cool, the assembly begins: sliced bananas, pineapple chunks, coconut pudding and a thick layer of whipped cream. I stayed true to the original by using homemade whipped cream instead of the nonfat, packaged variety. Though the latter is lower in both calories and fat than the homemade version, it lacks the depth and body of fresh whipping cream. The hardest part is waiting eight hours for the pudding to set, allowing time for the wafers to soften and the flavors to come together. With half the calories of my mother’s banana pudding, this is one dessert you’ll want to make — and share — over and over again.

Light Tropical Banana Pudding
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

2 cups coconut-milk beverage
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 medium bananas, sliced
1 cup chopped pineapple chunks
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
15 vanilla wafers
Toasted coconut flakes, for garnish

Method:

Make the pudding. Place the milk and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring gently to melt the butter and heat the milk.

Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water in a separate bowl to create a thick paste. Gently whisk into the milk and increase the heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until thick and bubbly, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic is touching the pudding, then place in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours, until set.

Once the pudding is set, beat the whipping cream with an electric hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer until stiff peaks form.

Create the first layer of sliced bananas on the bottom of a pie dish. Then add a layer of chopped pineapple, followed by the coconut pudding and a layer of wafers. Top with whipped cream.

Repeat to make a second layer. Top with whipped cream and toasted coconut flakes, for garnish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight before serving.

Per serving: Calories 16; Fat 7 g; Cholesterol 18 mg; Sodium 38 mg; Potassium 144 mg; Carbohydrate 25 g; Fiber 2; Sugars 16 g; Protein 1 g

Alex Caspero MA, RD, RYT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher. She is the founder of Delish Knowledge (delishknowledge.com), a resource for healthy, whole-food vegetarian recipes. In her private coaching practice, she helps individuals find their “Happy Weight.”

5 Hacks for Canned Coconut Milk

With its creamy goodness, canned coconut milk is more useful around the kitchen than you might think. In addition to being delicious, this vegan option is nonperishable and costs less per ounce than heavy cream. Each serving (1/3 cup) contains 120 calories and 10 grams of saturated fat, so, like many decadent foods, it’s to be enjoyed in moderation.

Baked Fish
Make a creamy sauce with no cream! This healthy and flavorful fish dish is ready in less than 20 minutes.

Vegan Whipped Cream
Chill a can of coconut milk overnight in the fridge and scoop out the thick, dense fat that rises to the top – whisk, sweeten and voila! Use the fluffy final product as a frosting for baked goods and other desserts. Use the remaining liquid (coconut water) for smoothies and other beverages.

Dairy-Free Ice Cream
Another vegan version of a dairy-based favorite: Use coconut milk to make an ice cream base that’s free of eggs and cream. This versatile recipe can be used to make all kinds of flavors.

Rice Pudding
Give rice pudding another dimension of flavor and texture with coconut milk — using lite coconut milk will cut down on the calories and fat by about 50 percent. Also try experimenting with other grains, like quinoa.

Ice Pops
Coconut is rich in fat, with a low water content. This makes for lower-sugar ice pops with velvety smoothness.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.