Zucchini Chocolate Pudding

As a child I can remember countless days when I would come home from school and my mom would make us pudding as a special treat.  Warm off the stove, the sweet pudding smell would fill the house.  There was something about the warmness and richness of the pudding that just made all the days troubles fade away.

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Shortly after my son was born I reconnected with pudding as a comforting snack.  At first I purchased the powdered type of pudding in both the slow cook and instant kind.   I was taken aback by the ingredients on the package.   Both were full of fillers, artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors.  I tried to look past the ingredients and still try the pudding to see if it had the same comforting effect I remember as a child.  I am not sure if my taste buds have changed over the years or if I can now taste artificial ingredients but both puddings were horribly bad.

I figured I would check out the prepared puddings in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.  I figured since they were refrigerated they surely must have less off putting ingredients.   Sadly the prepared puddings were just as bad as the powdered puddings.   The refrigerated kinds also had added thickeners, sugar alcohols and preservatives.

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I made trips to both Whole Foods and Chamberlains to see what puddings they might have to offer.  The puddings both places offered where healthy options in regards to ingredients, however, the large quantities of corn starch and “gum” additives were a little too much for me.  I know traditional pudding is made with large amount of corn starch as the base, but my body has a hard time processing all of that starch so I try to limit my intake of it.

As with most recipes I wanted to make a revised, healthy alternative to traditional pudding.  I wanted the recipe to not have cornstarch, be low in sugar yet high in fiber and flavor.  I tried various cornstarch alternatives like Arrowroot, tapioca, and konjac flour.   All of these ingredients produced a pretty gummy pudding that was not smooth like the pudding I loved.  I figured instead of a grain base why not try a vegetable base.  I am constantly making vegetable puree for soups and figured why could I not do the same for a pudding.  Certain vegetables when cooked and blended provide a nice smooth consistency similar to a pudding.

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The first vegetable I tried was cauliflower.  I love cauliflower and use it in a lot of my recipes.  It is a good base for things like pizza crust, soups, crackers and even some baked goods.  The cauliflower base turned out good but the slightly bitter aftertaste was not what I was looking for in a dessert item.  The next ingredient I tried was zucchini.  To me zucchini is one of the those vegetables people rarely think about, sadly it is under appreciated and underutilized.   It is fairly inexpensive and can be found in any grocery store.

After my first attempt using zucchini I knew it would be the perfect ingredient for my pudding base.  It had the silkiness I wanted and the mild flavor the pudding needed so that chocolate to be the star.   I had to undergo several tests on cooking times, blending times and figuring our what other ingredients to add before I got the pudding recipe just right.  Now I make single batch of zucchini pudding every night after dinner.  It is the perfect dessert to end the day.

Please note the zucchini pudding will have a greenish tone to it due to the green color of the zucchini.  This may be off putting to some, but I actually love the color that it produces.

Zucchini Chocolate Pudding 

1 medium sized zucchini

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (add more chocolate if you like it richer) 

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons water (room temp or slightly warm.  Add more or less depending on the consistency of pudding you prefer)

1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract (or 3 teaspoons of sugar or honey)

Chop up zucchini into bite sized chucks.  In a medium sized microwavable bowl add zucchini chucks and cover with a paper towel.  Microwave zucchini for around 3 minutes (depending on microwave wattage).   Add cooked zucchini to a blender or food processor.  Add other ingredients to the blender or food processor.  Cover and blend for about 2 minutes on medium/high.   Pour pudding into a bowl and serve warm.  Pudding can also be refrigerated and served cold.  

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