Eat This: Dairy-Free Pudding Pops

Frozen cheer!

It’s a dark, rainy, and rather somber day here. Rather than crank out some verse that’s likely to ooze the same darkness that surrounds me, I choose levity. And food. Sound good? Read on!

I’m a fairly recent convert to the Instant Pot; with my most recent purchase, I now have 5, ranging from 3 quarts to a whopping 10 quarts. Unlike my poor Crock Pots, now gathering dust on the shelf, I use my IPs all the time. And never fail to be amazed at the quality of the finished dishes, as well as the greatly-reduced time to prepare the food and the ease of cleanup. But this post isn’t about waxing rhapsodic about the virtues of this life-changing appliance – it’s about some of the cool stuff you can make using it.

If you can keep an open mind about it, cauliflower chocolate pudding is one of those dishes that sounds kind of weird but actually tastes great. It’s dairy and sugar-free but as creamy and rich as milk-based pudding. Really. And it’s based on a nutritious vegetable, so you’re almost sneaking veggies into a decadent dessert. What’s not to like about that? And why isn’t that possible with more veggies??

Because the IP cooks the cauliflower to the right consistency for the pudding in just 2 minutes, this is a quick and easy dessert to make. Once the cauli is cooked, it and the other ingredients (including coconut oil, stevia, cocoa powder, and water) go into a high-powered blender (I use my Vita-Mix) and are blended to a smooth consistency. It’s so good that I have to try to scrape every bit out of the blender jar – too good to waste. After a few hours in the fridge, it’s firm and ready to eat. Add toppings or not, it’s still delicious!

Recently, after making a batch, I spied my popsicle molds and thought “why not?” Popsicles are fun, and portion-controlled. I spooned the thick pudding into the forms and put them in the freezer overnight. The next day, I popped one out of the form and tried it – it was rock hard. Without dairy and sugar to prevent the hard freeze, the popsicles were rather like blocks of chocolate ice. Solution? With the next iteration, I may make these in the “adult” version, with a bit of alcohol like rum or bourbon to help keep them from freezing solid. Other possible options are to use a bit of a different sweetener (perhaps erythritol?) or gelatin to help keep the popsicles softer in the future.

Even though version 1.0 didn’t turn out exactly the way that I’d hoped, these popsicles were a bit of nostalgic joy during these trying times. While we may all have our own coping mechanisms, a little fun (ideally, on the healthy side, right?) can brighten the day and remind each of us that there are still reasons to smile. Just don’t make these popsicles the way that I did, or that smile may reveal some chipped teeth!

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