A few weeks ago, E. and I had lunch together at a local restaurant that serves “Southern Style” food. At the end of the meal, E. spied the dessert cart, which contained, among other tempting dishes, banana pudding. E. had never seen banana pudding layered between vanilla wafers before, but I told her that my mother had made it a lot when I was growing up. She looked at me as though I must be the worst mom on earth and said, “Why haven’t you ever made it for me?”
Poor deprived E! Her mother is so busy trying to cook healthy foods that she forgets to make the traditional childhood desserts. In my own defense, I had pretty much forgotten about banana pudding until E. pointed it out. But once she’d seen it, I had to promise her that we’d make a vegan version of it soon.
So at the grocery store yesterday, when I found a huge bag of overripe bananas for a dollar, I knew just what I wanted to do with some of them. The only trouble was finding vegan vanilla wafers; I looked through all six of the different brands in the store, and every one of them contained either eggs or milk or both. I finally settled on using something a little less traditional, but apparently vegan: Earth’s Best Organic “Letter of the Day” Cookies:
When E. got home from school, we got to work making this delicious dessert together. Of course, I just had to try to make it a little more healthy: I reduced the sugar and used a little pure stevia powder, an herbal sweetener with no calories. To make up for the bulk of the sugar, I had E. mash half a banana and add it to the pudding. If you’d like to make this using the full amount of sugar, I’ve included instructions at the end.
Southern-Style Banana Pudding
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract powder
- 3 cups soymilk (or other non-dairy milk)
- 1/2 banana, mashed
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
- about 5 ounces vanilla cookies
- 2-3 bananas
- Mix the cornstarch, sugar, and stevia in a medium saucepan. Stir in the soymilk and begin heating on medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils. Add in the mashed banana and cook, stirring, for one more minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and rum extracts.
- Line the bottom of a 1 1/2-quart baking dish with vanilla cookies. Slice one of the bananas to cover the cookies. Pour about half of the pudding over the bananas. Repeat the layers of cookies, bananas, and pudding, reserving some of the cookies and placing them around the edge of the dish. Refrigerate until completely chilled. Serve and enjoy!
To make the full-sugar version, make the following changes: Use 3/4 cup of sugar and do not add a mashed banana to the pudding.
You may also use artificial sweeteners; just add the amount that equals 1/4 cup of sugar and proceed with the regular directions.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 10 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
Makes 6 servings. Each serving, using Earth’s Best cookies, fat-free soymilk, and reduced sugar, contains 290 Calories (kcal); 5g Total Fat; (15% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 61g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 132mg Sodium; 1g Fiber.
If you’d like to lighten this up even more, you can leave out the cookies or reduce them to a single layer. Each serving, without cookies and with reduced sugar and fat-free soymilk, contains 184 Calories (kcal); trace Total Fat; (1% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 45g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 44mg Sodium; 1g Fiber.