Oh dear, bikini season.
It always comes as a bit of a shock, because for the most part I’m pretty covered up. (Modest is the hottest?) Reason being, sweaters are awesome and I am so, so tired of conversations about whether I play volleyball or tennis (Answer: Stop imagining me in tiny shorts, creep).
I’m also somehow without a full-length mirror (more tall girl problems), so really, the only time I get a good look at myself is the odd photo. Perhaps we all romanticize our physiques, but the sight of your pale, droopy self looking back at you from a vacation shot is always a rude awakening. Eek. And then it’s salad time, yoga time, hold in your stomach time, break out the bronzer time, and stand up straight time.
Of course, this yearly jolt all seems like a faraway, unlikely scenario as I’m eating my way through all the sweets that get posted here. But then, boom, June comes along and here I am painting my toenails and eating kale and trying to convince myself that I can in fact live without carbs. (Which is such a lie.)
Fortunately, summer generally keeps me away from the oven and all this fresh produce is an excellent excuse for some preventative maintenance. I really do love salads–check out the archives for proof–but I love dessert more. Can there be a compromise?
I’m of the school of thought that compromise doesn’t really exist when it comes to dessert. “Healthy” desserts are either vile approximations (microwaved mug cakes, anyone?) or sound healthy but actually aren’t.
This chia banoffee pudding is probably in the latter category. It’s made with all the health darlings of the moment–coconut milk, dates, chia seeds–but probably contains as much sugar and fat as a cookie, if we’re being honest. They’re just different sugars and fats, packaged with a good punch of fiber to slow down digestion. It may be better for you than real Banoffee pudding, don’t get me wrong, but the real reason we’re making it is it’s easy and it tastes good. Bikini season is mostly just a timely excuse to avoid standing over the oven.
And this pudding really is good, and really is easy. Promise. The dates give it a caramelly undertone that, with the creaminess of the nut milks and banana, really is reminiscent of the certainly-not-bikini-friendly Banoffee pudding. Top with whipped coconut cream, date caramel, and a pinch of flaky salt, and I guarantee you’ll never settle for a mug cake again.
Bikini-body-wise, though, you’re on your own. I’m digging into this pudding with a soup spoon and shopping for muumuus.
- 90g (1/2 cup) dates, chopped
- Large pinch of salt
- 3 Tablespoons water
- 2 bananas
- 1 14-oz. can full-fat coconut milk, preferably refrigerated*
- ~1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 40g (1/4 cup) chia seeds
- Open your coconut milk can and carefully scoop the thick cream off the top--you should have roughly half a can's worth of cream. Cover and refrigerate for later. If your coconut milk is not separated, try refrigerating for a few hours or get a different brand and try again.
- Add dates, water, and salt to your food processor and purée. Scoop out half of the resulting date caramel and set aside for topping.
- Add enough almond milk to the remaining liquid in the coconut milk can to equal 1 1/2 cups, and pour into the food processor. Add one banana and vanilla extract, and process until smooth. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the chia seeds. You can either refrigerate as-is, or pour into individual serving dishes. Refrigerate overnight, until seeds have absorbed some of the liquid and pudding has reached a loose tapioca-like consistency.
- When you're ready to serve, whip reserved coconut cream until light and fluffy. Spoon on top of each serving, along with some banana slices and a little of the date caramel, and enjoy.
- *You want to use a brand that will separate. I've had good luck with most of the brands at Asian markets and the 365 Organics brand at Whole Foods. "Lite" coconut milk will not work, unless you aren't interested in whipped coconut cream for the topping.