dark chocolate fig puddingFood & Drink 

Dark Chocolate Desert Queen Fig Pudding

By Alison Steele

Every August we return to Boulder Creek from Virginia summers to find sunflower forests, magic beans, and mysterious squash entangled in what seems like an enchanted garden from a childhood storybook. Spent pea shoots are cleared away to reveal jewel toned beets and carrots ready for harvesting. The jostaberries are sundried on the branches with a curious tart flavor, hint of vanilla and California gold dust. The Galas are falling to the ground in little piles of applebutter begging to be canned. The elder bushes are dripping with black berries biding their time until medicine making day.

Returning to all this is thrilling, a secret garden to be explored through tastes, smell, and color but it can also feel a bit daunting knowing all the work that lies in the weeks ahead. Harvesting, tidying, deep watering, digging, pruning and preserving all have to be taken in stride or the hobbies that keep us fueled can seem exhausting.

The first priority is harvesting. So much work goes into propagating, transplanting, weeding, and watering that letting garden goods go to waste isn’t even an option. Pick it and bring it into the kitchen, then think about what you actually want to eat. Consume as much of it fresh as you possibly can, trade it for things you don’t grow, get creative with substituting your vegetable for the one the recipe calls for, then preserve the rest.

When I see fruit that needs immediate harvesting I turn to my Vitamix. If raising fruit trees, it’s one of the best time saving investments you will make, along with an Excalibur dehydrator. You can very quickly turn ripe fruit into sweets your body can feel good about. I used to make a lot of jams and jellies which look beautiful on a pantry shelf, but just don’t get eaten regularly by our family. We do, however, eat a version of pudding with endless fruit and nut combinations that can easily be turned into fruit roll ups, literally overnight. I began making it when I first started with seasonal cleansing from refined sugars. My body felt great and my mind, even better. Heaps of fresh fruit can be processed in minutes with no cooking involved, or dried for *roll ups the kids can easily pack in their lunches.

Dark Chocolate Desert Queen Pudding

Makes 6 to 8 servings

5 cups fresh figs 
3 cups fresh bananas
3/4 cup raw cacao powder
3 heaping T of nut butter, or ½ c nuts soaked in hot water
8 T grass-fed collagen 
1 young coconut, pulp and water
2 t vanilla extract
2 T walnut syrup,  plus some for drizzling overtop (optional)

Other combinations:
Persimmons, currant, soaked walnuts & maple syrup
Pear, blackberry, raw almond butter & sorghum syrup

Fill the Vitamix pitcher with fresh fruit. Add ¾ cup young coconut water and the vanilla. Pour the raw cacao and spoon in the cacao, collagen, and nut butter, adding just enough coconut water to get the blender moving. Don’t forget to cap the Vitamix before revving up to the highest setting. Use the tamper to achieve that thick pudding-like consistency that our palates crave. Once blended for a few minutes the pudding will start to warm up which will help dissolve the collagen and create a silky smooth consistency. That’s it! Pour into small glass jars, cover, and pop in the fridge. When ready to eat, garnish with a slice of fresh fig, a drizzle of syrup, and sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

*If making roll-ups add a bit more coconut water in order to spread the batter onto the dehydrator sheets more easily. Dehydrate overnight at around 108°F in order to maintain the integrity of the enzymes and vitamins in the food. Once completely dehydrated, slice and store in quart mason jars, and hide in a cool place!

A native of Virginia, Alison Steele lives with her husband, two children, and cat in Boulder Creek where she raises quail, chickens, fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs. Alison plays banjo and sings in Sugar by the Pound.

Photos by Alison Steele

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