Healthy Recipes: Puddings & Mousses

It’s hard to come up with a name that encompasses all of the desserts that fall into this category. Their one unifying feature is that they have a wonderful, soothing texture. Texture is very important in a pudding and the type of thickener used determines how thick, smooth, and delicate the results are.

Cornstarch

Cornstarch stirred into a flavored liquid (milk, soymilk, or fruit juice) and then heated will thicken into a pudding. Cornstarch puddings are the type most commonly sold as store-bought pudding mixes.

Other starches

Any type of raw starch will thicken when it’s combined with a liquid and heated (including cornstarch, of course). This accounts for two classic pudding ingredients: rice and tapioca. As these ingredients cook, they release their starch and thicken the liquid they’re being cooked in.

Eggs

This is the ingredient used to thicken custards. By and large, we’ve found ways around using too many eggs in order to reduce the fat and cholesterol that come with them. In some puddings, we’ve replaced the eggs with gelatin. Baked puddings, which are like cakes, usually require some eggs to thicken them and set them up.

Gelatin

Gelatin is a good, fat-free way to create silky, smooth-textured mousses and puddings, and is often used to replace the thickness that might have come from eggs or high-fat dairy products.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

Almond & Apricot Rice Pudding

Makes 6 servings

It seems a shame to leave a canvas like rice pudding blank, so we have added shredded carrots and chopped apricots. Not only do they add spots of color, but they also add nice texture and a healthy helping of beta carotene. For an added twist, try this with an aromatic rice such as basmati.

2 cups water
1/4 cup rice
3 cups low-fat (1%) milk
2 large carrots, finely shredded
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
3 tablespoons slivered almonds

  1. In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the rice, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Stir in 2 ½ cups of the milk, the carrots, and the orange and lime zests. Uncover and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the milk has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and the remaining ½ cup milk, and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is very tender and creamy, about 5 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg. Whisk some of the hot rice mixture into the egg to warm it, then whisk the warmed egg mixture into the saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes to cook the egg.
  5. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Stir in the apricots and almonds. Chill until serving time.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per serving: 267 calories, 4.5g total fat (1.3g saturated), 40mg cholesterol, 2g dietary fiber, 49g carbohydrate, 8g protein, 180mg sodium.

A good source of: beta carotene, calcium, folate, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, vitamin B12.

Peanut Pudding with Shaved Chocolate

Makes 6 servings

Though many dessert puddings get their firmness from ingredients high in saturated fat (such as cream and eggs), this satisfying combination of peanuts and chocolate is based on soymilk and gets its creamy texture from gelatin, which has no fat at all. The fat in the pudding is largely unsaturated, with only 4% of the calories coming from saturated fat. Timing alert: The pudding needs to chill for about 4 hours.

4 cups unflavored soymilk or fat-free dairy milk
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 envelope plus 1/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 ounce (1/2 square) semisweet chocolate, grated
1/4 cup dry-roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine 3 cups of the soymilk, the brown sugar, peanut butter, sesame oil, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Meanwhile, in a measuring cup, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining 1 cup soymilk. Let stand until softened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir the softened gelatin into the soy-peanut butter mixture and cook until the gelatin has dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract.
  4. Pour the pudding into six 6-ounce custard cups and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours. Just before serving, sprinkle the grated chocolate and peanuts on top.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per serving: 251 calories, 10g total fat (2g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 1g dietary fiber, 31g carbohydrate, 11g protein, 253mg sodium.

A good source of: magnesium, potassium.

Triple Chocolate Pudding

Makes 6 servings

Cocoa powder, German’s sweet chocolate, and semisweet chocolate—underscored by brown sugar and cinnamon—give this pudding its rich chocolate flavor. German’s chocolate is commonly (and mistakenly) referred to as German chocolate; but its name is actually the brand name, "German's," and not the chocolate’s national origin.

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 cups low-fat (1%) milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces German’s or other sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips (1 ounce)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, cornstarch, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of the milk.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 2 ½ cups milk, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Whisk the cocoa mixture into the boiling milk and cook, whisking, just until thickened, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the sweet chocolate and chocolate chips. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand until the chips have melted, about 1 minute. Stir in the vanilla extract. Spoon into 6 bowls and chill until serving time.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per serving: 187 calories, 5.6g total fat (3.3g saturated), 5mg cholesterol, 1g dietary fiber, 32g carbohydrate, 5g protein, 165mg sodium.

A good source of: calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B12.

Mango-Tapioca Pudding

Makes 4 servings

As the pudding cooks, the tapioca pearls swell and turn translucent, giving this dessert the appearance that earned it its affectionate nickname: fish eyes and glue. Most tapioca puddings are made with milk and eggs, but for a lighter, more tropical feeling, we’ve cooked the tapioca in mango nectar. You could also try this with another fruit nectar, such as apricot. Timing alert: Because the tapioca needs to be soaked and the cooked pudding needs to be chilled, you should start this dessert about 9 hours before you want to serve it.

1/2 cup small pearl tapioca
2 cups cold water
2 cups mango nectar
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2 to 3 limes)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

  1. In a large bowl, combine the tapioca and cold water, and let soak for at least 4 hours. Drain.
  2. In a medium, heavy-bottomed nonaluminum saucepan, combine the mango nectar, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Bring to a boil and stir in the drained tapioca. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tapioca “pearls” are translucent (with only the merest hint of opacity at their centers), about 25 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and transfer the pudding to a serving bowl. Let cool to room temperature and stir in the sour cream. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 4 hours.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per serving: 222 calories, 2.5g total fat (1.5g saturated), 8mg cholesterol, 1g dietary fiber, 51g carbohydrate, 1g protein, 157mg sodium.

Chocolate-Orange Latte Cotto

Makes 6 servings

This adaptation of panna cotta (an Italian dessert usually made with cream or a combination of milk and cream) is silky-smooth and satisfying. If you like, run a metal spatula around the edges of the dessert and invert it onto a serving plate. Timing alert: This dessert has to chill for at least 4 hours.

3 cups low-fat (1%) or fat-free milk
1/2 cup sugar
6 strips (1/2 x 2 inches) orange zest
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons chocolate chips (1 ounce)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of the milk, the sugar, and orange zest. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 20 minutes for the milk to absorb the orange zest flavors. Strain and discard the zest.
  2. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining 1 cup milk and let stand until softened, about 2 minutes.
  3. In another small bowl, combine the cocoa and water, stirring, until the cocoa is moistened.
  4. Stir the softened gelatin, moistened cocoa, and chocolate chips into the saucepan of milk. Stir over medium heat until the gelatin has dissolved and the chocolate chips have melted, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.
  5. Divide the mixture among six 6-ounce custard cups and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until set and well chilled.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per serving: 150 calories, 3.1g total fat (1.9g saturated), 5mg cholesterol, 1g dietary fiber, 27g carbohydrate, 6g protein, 65mg sodium.

A good source of: calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin D.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at HealthCommunities.com

Published: 12 Aug 2010

Last Modified: 12 Jan 2015