Healthful Pursuit: Coconut Payasam (Sweet Coconut Pudding) – Gluten-free + Refined Sugar-Free

by Beth @ Tasty Yummies

The next guest post is a special one from Leanne of Healthful Pursuit. I found Leanne’s blog about a year ago when she commented here on Tasty Yummies. I quickly added it to my bookmarks to check daily and have been enjoying her blog ever since.  Healthful Pursuit is one of my absolute favorites and I constantly find myself on there, not only for inspiration with meals and recipes, but for the affirmation that making the right choices with my food provides so much more than feeling good and staying healthy. Being a Holistic Nutritionist, Leanne has a wonderful knowledge of health, the role of food and ingredients in our overall well-being, and so much more. 

In addition to her recipes, vast knowledge and her drive to always find a way to make recipes as healthy as they can be, I very much admire Leanne’s honesty and candidness on her blog.  Besides having similar views on food and eating, Leanne and I also have a common bond with our love of yoga. Leanne just very recently returned from a long trip to India, which I am insanely inspired by, as I have long dreamt of a trip to India. So, I am very honored that Leanne chose to share with us a bit about her trip, as well as a delicious new recipe that was inspired by her time in India. 


Hi there! My name’s Leanne and I’m more than thrilled to be here chatting with you all today!

I found Tasty Yummies over a year ago, right around the time I began my blog. In fact, Beth’s blog was the first to be added to my Google Reader; and later, the first to be posted to my blog roll. What can I say, she’s awesome! But I don’t think I need to tell you that :)

I began blogging over at Healthful Pursuit as a way to share my passion for healthy treats, whole food eats, and balanced living. Through the process of sharing my experiences and connecting with my readers, I’ve learned that health; for me, is a state of truly understanding myself and making the proper adjustments to ensure I’m giving my body, mind, and spirit exactly what it needs.

Although some of these adjustments will scare me, pull me into unknown territory, or challenge the way I see the world, in the end I owe it to myself to jump, leap, and run toward happiness.

One of the largest adjustments I’ve had to make in my pursuit of health was when I decided to take myself on a journey through India. On my own, for just under a month.

Booking the trip was one thing, but when I actually started thinking about going, living my life, by myself, experiencing things in an unknown place, I was scared! I had to come to terms with my fears, pull myself out of the dark place, and basically get a grip on myself! After months of anxiety and stress I realized that I shouldn’t let my fears get in the way of gifting myself with an amazing experience.

And boy am I happy I pushed through! I had an amazing time experiencing Mumbai, going on endless adventures in South India, living from moment to moment, practicing fearlessness in everything I was faced with, and cooking.

Cooking you say?

I’m a foodie at heart. You didn’t think I’d go to India without attempting to learn how to cook all the yummy food I was enjoying during my stay, did you?

I ended up registering for the class with fellow yogi, Jody, who I met during my stay at Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari ashram a couple of weeks before.

The 2 hour class was in a small trailer, right on the beach. We got to choose 6 vegetarian dishes from a very large menu of items and among them, was my favorite south Indian dessert, pasayam.

Payasam is an integral part of traditional South Indian meals. In many cases, it’s served on a flat banana leaf instead of in a dish or bowl and eaten with the hands as with all other meals in South India (which is SO fun!). What I loved also, is that in South India, payasam is generally made with jaggery and coconut milk in place of sugar and milk making it less processed and tastier in my opinion!

The version Jody and I chose was pineapple payasam, with rice veermicelli noodles, fresh pineapple, and loads of ghee. It was to die for. So much so that when I returned home and Beth asked me if I wanted to share a recipe with you all, I knew exactly what recipe to go to for inspiration.

Coconut Payasam (Sweet Coconut Pudding) – Gluten-free + Refined Sugar-Free
Serves 4

2 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp cashews, roughly chopped or halved
1 cup young coconut meat, diced
3/4 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup young coconut water
Handful raisins, optional *see note
3 tbsp demerara, palm or date sugar
5 cardamom pods
Flesh from 1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup rice vermicelli noodles, broken into 1/2 –inch pieces

To open the coconut: use a sharp kitchen knife, cut into the young coconut until you reach it’s hard core. Using a rubber mallet, hit the top of the knife until you feel it break into the core. Spread apart the sides and allow coconut water to drain into a glass or mug. Place the knife back into the slit and continue to hit the edge of the knife with the mallet until the coconut breaks in two. Alternatively, once you feel you’ve cut through it enough, you can pry the two sides apart. Peel out the meat with a spoon and dice small.

In a medium sized saucepan combine ghee, cashews, and 3/4 cup of the coconut meat. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring constantly until cashews are browned, about 2 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients except noodles. Bring mixture back to a boil then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
At the 5 minute mark, stir in vermicelli noodles and allow to cook. The mixture should begin to get thicker in the last 2 minutes. If it’s too thick for your liking, add a bit more coconut water until your desired consistency is reached.
Place remaining chopped coconut meat at the bottom of a serving bowl and drop payasam mixture over top. Serve with diced fruits, cinnamon or seeds sprinkled over top. Alternatively, separate the pasayam into 4 small dishes, one for each serving.

Note: the original payasams I enjoyed in India had raisins but my boyfriend Kevin doesn’t like them so they were left out of this batch. Feel free to add a handful to the mix as I know it would be delicious!!

View nutrition facts

I hope that you’ll like this pudding as much as my family and I do now! For more healthy treats and whole food eats, feel free to stop by Healthful Pursuit, connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or visit my YouTube channel for healthful tips and advice!

Have a fabulous day :)


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alex@Spoonful of Sugar Free March 13, 2012 at 11:13 am

Great post, Leanne!!! Love love love your recipes (and you!) as always!



2 Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit March 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Thanks Alex! I had a really great time with this recipe… both in creating it and chowing down. My gosh, ghee makes everything better!


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