In honor of #popsicleweek, I am bringing a traditional cake recipe new life with these tasty Red Velvet Pudding Pops. Of course, there’s a twist. I boosted this sweet treat with nutrient-dense whole foods, so you can have your cake and nutrients and eat it, too!
It wasn’t too long ago that I snuck a little cauliflower into some popsicles here on Tasty Yummies. I’m hoping if you tried that recipe, you still trust me and know that despite these strange ingredient combos, I will never lead you astray. It was a fun surprise to find that the cauliflower brought another level to the treat, with creaminess and also of course, nutrients. While I don’t feel that every dessert should have a veggie snuck into it, I do love the unexpected nutritional boost that this provides. And why not?
So, I am back at it again today with these Red Velvet Pudding Pops. As traditional Red Velvet Cake is simply a subtle amount of cocoa with red food coloring, it’s actually a cake flavor that has forever eluded me. I never really understood it. It’s not chocolate and the red color has nothing to do with flavor. But not too long ago I tried a gluten-free Red Velvet cupcake and I am not gonna lie. I was into it. But, ya know, it was loaded with sugar and grains. Additionally, red food dye used in baking is almost always derived from Red #40 (Allura Red) an artificial food dye. According to a CSPI report, some of the most commonly used food dyes may be linked to numerous forms of cancer, along with hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children.1http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/24/are-you-or-your-family-eating-toxic-food-dyes.aspx The European Union has recently placed regulations on labeling food dyes to inform consumers of the health risks, but the United States has no such requirement.
In CSPI’s summary of studies on food dyes 2http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/dyes-problem-table.pdf, you can see that some of the most commonly used food dyes may be linked to numerous forms of cancer. CSPI reported3https://cspinet.org/new/201006291.html:
“The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens … Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply.”
In their 58-page report, “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks,” CSPI revealed that nine of the food dyes currently approved for use in the United States are linked to health issues ranging from cancer and hyperactivity to allergy-like reactions — and these results were from studies conducted by the chemical industry itself.
For instance, Red # 40, which is the most widely used dye, may accelerate the appearance of immune system tumors in mice, while also triggering hyperactivity in children.4http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/24/are-you-or-your-family-eating-toxic-food-dyes.aspx
Here’s the deal, whether you want to read the research or not, whether you want to fully get on board with avoiding food dyes, that’s entirely up to you, but if there is a safe, natural, nutrient-rich alternative. Why wouldn’t you play it safe and take that route?
Enter beet powder. One of my most favorite “rabbit in my hat” kitchen tricks. Not only does it provide a beautiful vibrant hue, naturally, but it’s loaded up on the nutrition front, too! And don’t worry, the taste of beet powder isn’t quite what you assume, it’s not like powdered ground. Despite beet’s earthy flavor, when dehydrated and ground into a powder it imparts a slightly sour, slightly sweet and a little bit earthy flavor. In these popsicles, it compliments the raw cacao beautifully and the color is just unbeetable. (see what I did there?)
Beet Powder is loaded with the same potent vitamins, minerals, and nutrients as the red beets it comes from. Beetroot powder is rich in antioxidants, dietary fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, folate and manganese, along with other nutrients. Perhaps most remarkably, beets are naturally rich in nitrate, compounds that can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, leading to notable health benefits.5https://nuts.com/cookingbaking/powders/beet.html
I know that chocolate is never a hard sell, for me, quality cacao and chocolate is part of my every day and not just because it tastes amazing. Raw Cacao is also loaded with antioxidants (more per cup than you will find in wine or tea) and flavonoids, which can protect cells against damage by free radicals and can support heart health by reducing blood pressure and relaxing blood vessels. It’s also rich in magnesium which aids in over 300 chemical reactions in the body, from cardiovascular function to maintaining bone health. Cacao is also a powerful mood booster that stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin in the brain causing that feel good mood boost.
Using coconut milk and avocado for the rich creamy, pudding-like texture in these popsicles, we’re also bringing in various quality, beneficial fats. You guys already know how I feel about the importance of quality fat in a well balanced, whole foods diet, but to refresh you, fat is a vital macronutrient that provides building blocks for the brain, hormone and cellular membranes throughout the body, it is essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K and it is deeply hydrating! Best yet, when added to a treat with a very small amount of sweetness, the fat works to slow down the affects on blood sugar, caused by carbohydrates of any kind.
The white chocolate drizzle on top, is a quick homemade blend of cacao butter, coconut milk and coconut oil and a little sweetener of your choice. I much prefer this custom blend to the usual white chocolate you would find at the store. Typically that stuff is LOADED with sugar. Cacao butter in all it’s silky, rich goodness is also a wonderful source of natural antioxidants which may help to boost the immune system, support heart health, and lower inflammation. It too is another great source of quality fats, as it’s loaded with protective fatty acids.
A note on sweeteners: as with most sweet treats, I find that everyone’s sweet tooth differs quite significantly based on what they typically eat. I go light with the sweetener in this recipe, I use honey and just add what I need. You can add a little more or less if you’d like, if you’d rather use stevia or a sugar alcohol, that would work as well. If you’d like, try pitted dates, when blending the pudding. Just experiment and give it a taste before you pour into the molds and adjust as necessary.
- 2¼ cups full fat organic coconut milk (the canned kind produces the best results)
- 1 small/medium ripe avocado
- 3 tablespoons raw cacao powder (cocoa powder also works)
- ¼ cup beet powder (or beet puree) (I used this brand)
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup*
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- 1 pinch sea salt
- ¼ cup cacao/cocoa butter
- 2 tablespoons full fat coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon honey, maple syrup or other sweetener of your choice*
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch fine sea salt
- Add all of the popsicle ingredients to a high speed blender. Puree until super smooth and creamy. Spoon the pudding into your face, I mean your popsicle mold.
- Tap/bang the molds on the countertop a handful of times once they are full, to try to get rid of all the air bubbles. Add the sticks. Freeze for at least 4 hours or until totally frozen, or preferably just overnight.
- While the popsicles set and have just a short time left, melt together the white chocolate drizzle ingredients. You can do so in a double boiler, in a small pan over a very low heat or in the microwave.
- Remove the popsicles from the mold, place on a sheet pan or plate lined with parchment paper, gently drizzle with the white chocolate mixture. (you can also make more and dip the tips of the popsicles into it). Set back into the freezer for just a few minutes to set the chocolate. Enjoy.
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