Hey there friends. I know it’s been a minute. I promise I’ve been busy doing some good stuff. Most recently I returned from South Carolina, where I got to spend 10 days split between visiting with friends in Charleston and my parents and niece in Myrtle Beach. While I love living in NYC, it was so nice to escape the grind for 10 days on the beach, by a pool, in thrift shops (one of my favorite pastimes) and spend quality time with people I care about. Plus, I got my parents to try tempeh – and they liked it :)
Before my trip, I had the opportunity to give a talk on the role of nutrition and the brain at the launch of Dr. Rachel Gow’s website focused on raising awareness and disseminating knowledge about ADHD – check out my last post here. I’ve also run a few races (Oakley 10K and Queens 10K), with my next bigger races being the Bronx 10-miler and Staten Island Half in September and October. Initially my goal was to complete 4 out of the 5 borough races to get automatically entry into the NYC Half next year since I didn’t make the lottery this year. But now I figure I might as well do a couple more smaller races and go for automatic entry into next year’s full as well… just in case I want to do it again… :)
Now on to the bird food…
Millet is one of those grains (along with amaranth) that I tried getting into a while back but was not initially impressed. As it’s most often thought of for its traditional use, it tasted more like bird feed to me. But, knowing that it’s a healthy grain – playing a close 2nd to quinoa with its nutrient content – I’ve kept it on my pantry shelf. I’ve seriously had the same stash of millet in a mason jar that’s been moved across a few apartments, across two different states.
Millet (or millets, really, since there are many varieties) are a group of small-seeded grasses grown around the world. While millet in the United States is grown mostly for bird seed, millet grown in India and Africa is a significant crop and a food staple in these countries as it can withstand extreme conditions. Millet is commonly made into cereals, porridges, both sweet and savory, ground into flour to make breads and toasted to make puffs eaten as is or made into candies and baked goods. Millet is gluten free, easily digestible and packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals – magnesium, calcium, manganese, tryptophan, phosphorus, B vitamins – along with some fiber and protein.
So when Well + Good asked me to put together a non-traditional pudding recipe, I used it as a challenge to find a way to enjoy millet. I decided to make a twist on a rice pudding recipe by using millet in place of the rice. In doing my research on how others have approached millet pudding, I came across this recipe by Lottie + Doof. I loved Tim’s way of turning a usually crunchy, nutty grain into a pudding by mixing it with creamy ricotta and whipped cream. So I decided to put my twist on it and make a vegan version using cashews and coconut to replace the dairy and top with a summery fruit compote.
The end result totally lived up to my vision – a yummy breakfast pudding that would be perfect for a summer brunch with friends or a couple days of breakfast for one :)
There are a few different components, but they are not difficult so don’t be daunted by all the steps. One thing you can do, which I actually did myself and I think makes for a nicer thick pudding, is to prepare some it the day before to allow refrigeration and setting time. It’s up to you if you prefer the compote to be warm or chilled – I had mine chilled. Also, I tend to err on the conservative side when it comes to sweeteners in my recipes because I try not to overdo them – but you can taste test along the way and add in some more if that is your preference. For me, especially once you mix the compote through the pudding, this recipe was just the right amount of sweet mixed with healthy goodness.
FYI: It’s even more creamy and amazing after the finished pudding has been refrigerated at least 8 hours…
- 2 chai tea bags
- 2 Bartlett pears, chopped
- 12 dried apricots, chopped
- 5 pieces candied ginger, chopped
- 1 Tbsp coconut nectar syrup (or sweetener of choice)
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch or two of salt
- 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup millet
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 Medjool date, soaked
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 Tbsp water
- 1/2 to 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- pinch of salt
- 1 can coconut milk (full fat), refrigerated overnight
- 1/4 cup coconut nectar crystals (or sweetener of choice)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp coconut nectar syrup
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Turn off the heat, add the tea bags, and steep for 5 minutes. Discard the tea bags.
- Add the pears, apricots, candied ginger, coconut nectar syrup, vinegar, cinnamon and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens to a light syrup - about 30 minutes (it will thicken even more as it cools).
- Turn off heat and stir in freshly grated ginger.
- Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill.
- Place millet in a small pot or saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together coconut milk, shredded coconut, vanilla extract and salt.
- Once millet is finished cooking, pour in milk mixture and bring back to a boil. Lower heat to simmer until all liquid has been absorbed.
- Set millet aside and let cool.
- Place all ingredients into blender except for the coconut milk and blend until starts to smooth out. You will likely have to stop and push the mixture down the sides with a spatula a couple of times.
- Slowly add coconut milk as the blender is running to reach desired consistency of a creamy sauce, about 1/2 to 1 cup.
- Place in refrigerator to allow it to cool and further set.
- Open the can of coconut milk without shaking or flipping it.
- Carefully spoon out the top layer of opaque white stuff that has gathered at the top of the can into a mixing bowl. (Note: You will be left with about 1/2 cup of the more translucent liquid that you can transfer to another container and refrigerate to use in other recipes, like smoothies or anything calling for some liquid and coconut flavor).
- Add coconut nectar and vanilla extract to the mixing bowl.
- Using either a hand beater, mixer or KitchenAid (all will work), whip the coconut milk until creamy. Start on low and gradually move to a higher speed. Mix until the consistency of whipped cream.
- In a bowl, mix together the millet and cashew cream.
- At this point, you can taste to decide if you want to add in any additional sweeteners or flavors. For this round, I added some coconut nectar syrup and lemon zest.
- Using a spatula, fold in the coconut whip a bit at a time.
- Either refrigerate pudding to serve later (it's even more creamy and amazing after it's been chilled for at least 8 hours) or divide into small bowls and top with compote to serve.