The saying, “as American as apple pie” does not fit into the tenants of the Paleo lifestyle. It’s arguable that the forefathers of the United States considered some other, traditional, more nutrient-dense food to be the hallmark of their new country – and yet, the saying remains both a testament to the lasting quality of wives’ tales and an unfortunate representation of America’s obsession with sugar, grains and fats.
But what if we turn the notion of apple pie on its head? There’s no need to go to great lengths to create a grain-free piecrust or a juicy filling that tastes the way grandma used to make it. It’s already too hot to turn on the oven; plus, the Paleo lifestyle isn’t about substituting gluten-free alternatives for our SAD foods of the past. Let’s instead seek out a nourishing dish that will not only replace the old desserts, but will knock it out of the park.
This pudding is the perfect snack for many reasons: First, it’s a versatile dish, useful for athletic nutrition (plenty of carbs and fat), as a sweet but not sinful dessert, great for kids to customize, and a rich supplement for anyone struggling to eat solid food. It’s portable – stir some into a little mason jar, pop on the lid, and take it camping or hiking or on a long shopping trip. It’s deceptively delicious with only four ingredients, and tastes remarkably like melted vanilla ice cream and apple pie. It’s vegan, nut-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, and it couldn’t be easier to make.
Coconut milk is high in saturated fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), fats that are easily burned as fuel in the body. Additionally, the MCTs in coconut oil do not require bile for digestion, making coconut products an excellent choice for anyone with gallbladder problems. Coconut milk contains another useful fatty acid, lauric acid, which exhibits antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Cinnamon is a good source of manganese, and like coconut milk, exhibits antimicrobial properties. Cinnamon has been touted for its blood glucose regulating effects, as the spice slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, thereby slowing an impending insulin response.
Apples are high in fiber, pectin and Vitamin C, and have an abundance in phytonutrients concentrated in the peel. The levels of fructose vary with the variety of apple, so if sugar content is a concern opt for a green apple over a red cultivar.
What emerges after a few hours of hands-off chill time in the fridge is a yummy summer treat – cool, delicious and better than anything baked into a lattice crust.
2 large apples, cored and chopped
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 TBSP grass-fed gelatin (Great Lakes)
1 TBSP cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Put all ingredients into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, until coconut milk is boiling.
- Reduce to low heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until apples are soft and fragrant.
- Remove pan from stove to cool before pureeing in a food processor or blender. Transfer the now-liquid mixture to a new bowl or individual ramekins and refrigerate overnight. The next day the pudding will have thickened into a spoonable consistency.
Stir 1 in TBSP chia seeds per serving before refrigerating overnight for added fiber, texture, and a thicker pudding.
- Shredded, unsweetened coconut adds crunch and sweetness, while ground flaxseed offers a piecrust flavor and texture that takes the pudding to the next level.
- Sprinkle a strudel of chopped toasted nuts and cinnamon on top and serve as dessert, or enjoy as a filling breakfast with a couple slices of bacon on the side.
- For an added source of protein, whisk a couple of egg yolks or whole eggs into the blender before refrigerating. The end result will be more like that of custard, with the additional benefits of fat, protein and a hefty dose of choline.