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Before you go, “gross,” here me out on this. Oh my goodness, it is so good. So delicious. I think it’s the creamy texture that gets me, like ice cream without being frozen. This recipe uses pumpkin (canned, or make your own by roasting a sugar pie pumpkin and pureeing the guts), coconut milk, and kudzu (or kuzu) root to thicken it. Kudzu is an interesting starch: in the South, where I’m from, the plant grows rampant as an invasive species that quickly takes over areas and displaces other vegetation. When eaten, kudzu root is a rich source of isoflavones, has cholesterol lowering properties, and is used to help alcoholics quell binge drinking by reducing cravings.

It can be used as a thickener, like cornstarch or arrowroot, and is widely used in macrobiotic cooking. It’s high in minerals and in addition to the benefits mentioned above, it is said to have some general medicinal properties.

My business partner Karen (www.benourishedsf.info) is also a chef and developed this recipe. I was skeptical, but once I tried it, I was in heaven. It’s delicious and fast and easy. Find kudzu root in bulk bins at your natural foods store or at the Whole Foods in the aisle with the packages seaweeds. It comes in solid form clumped together like rocks, and before you use it, add a little water and whisk to make a slurry.

2 cups pumpkin (canned or roasted + pureed sugar pie)
1 cup coconut milk
7 tbsp kudzu root
1 tsp vanilla
cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger to taste
couple pinches of stevia OR 2-3 tblsp raw honey

Whisk pumpkin and coconut milk together on low heat in large saucepan. In a separate small bowl, add kudzu root and enough water (about 1/8 – 1/4 cup) to make a thick slurry when whisked together. Add approx 7 tblsp of the kudzu to the pumpkin mixture and whisk thoroughly. Mixture will begin to thicken. Add vanilla and spices to taste and whisk until pretty thick. Divide among ramekins, cover, and refrigerate until set. Serve topped with candied ginger or a little coconut milk, or enjoy plain. Would also be great with freshly whipped cream.

NOTE: as I am partaking currently in The Great Sugar Detox currently, I made this tonight unsweetened. It’s still delicious, and the spices help to flavor it, but I definitely prefer it with honey. I’m actually looking forward to eating it for breakfast. Pumpkin is a great source of fiber and vitamins (esp vita A), coconut milk is an immune-boosting fat, and cinnamon is a blood sugar balancing spice! Why not?