Buddies, Brew & Banana Puddin’

Every girl needs her girls.  Every girl needs girly conversation, girly ruffley clothing, girly movies, and by golly, girly food.  When it comes to girls, I am biased by my girls. My girls happen to be the best girls on the planet.  Together, we have climbed mountains, thrown back a brew at the top, then skied down them.  We have run races, driven across the country, beat the clock, we’ve drank, we’ve been hungover, we’ve cured each other, washed and repeated. There has been sweat, there have been tears (you know, the reaaal ugly kind), there has been beer. And wine. And sushi.

This morning, I dropped my good friend, Sandi off at the airport – the same Sandi I mentioned last week. And as we pulled away from the airport, I told Garrett I felt like I lost a body part.  There is nothing more real than a binding friendship – the kind that keeps you together after moving to separate parts of the country and allows you to pick up right where you left off. The telepathic, empathetic, familial friendships that make you feel like you have everything you need.

Sandi and I lived together for three years and now live on opposite sides of the country. While she visited this last week, we accomplished virtually everything we set out to do.  We saw a great bluegrass band, ate sushi at Hiroba, made two batches of banana puddin in the same night, busted out some power house workouts, shared Ethiopian food and drank some badass beer. Even took a badass yoga class where the instructor reminded all the students of our badassedness.

Besides Sandi’s adorable dimples and southern accent, she has a relaxed approach to life and will giggle as she tells you stories about growing up in the south and dote on the southern foods we west coasters are so unfortunate to lack.  Like banana pudding. Puddin.  The kind that you make using instant vanilla pudding, Nilla wafers, cool whip and sweet, ripe bananas.  Sandi and I set out to make homemade banana pudding – excited to determine if the from-scratch kind could trump the from-box kind.  One version was the typical dairy and cane sugar vanilla pudding with a homemade “wafer” (more like short bread) using all-purpose flour.  We cut this recipe in half for the vanilla wafer, and used this recipe for the vanilla pudding but because I get carried away with substitutes, I got craaazy amped to use tapioca starch instead of cornstarch; this created a stringy, weird mass of what-the-crap-is-that, which caused me to keep adding milk, which prohibited the pudding from setting up correctly. Ergo, we put the “pudding” in the blender with vanilla ice cream, blended well, then added the wafers and ripe banana, pulsed a couple of times for a nice, chunky banana pudding milkshake.  It was delicious, but not exactly what we had originally set out to make.

For the second version (the less bad-for-you version), we used coconut milk and honey in the vanilla pudding and the wafer was made from almond flour and agave.  Of course, this did not yield the same deep south North Carolinian banana puddin that you get from the church cookbook; it was a tasty treat, just still not exactly what we were looking for.  In any case, if you’re interested in trying a paleo dairy-free, cane sugar-free pudding, here’s a great and easy coconut vanilla pudding recipe.

 Paleo Vanilla Pudding


  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Make Paleo Vanilla Pudding:

In a mixing bowl, beat the yolk with a fork until creamy.  In a small saucepan over low heat, gently heat the coconut milk until any clumps are dissolved and the coconut milk is just warm.  Take about a quarter cup of the warm coconut milk and combine it with the egg yolk. This tempers the egg and ensures it does not turn into scrambled eggs when you incorporate it into the hot coconut milk.  Pour the egg yolk/coconut milk mixture into the saucepan with the remaining coconut milk.  Add the honey and stir.  Stirring constantly, raise the heat to medium low or medium so that the mixture comes to a gentle boil, about 5 minutes.  Add the tapioca starch. By now, the mixture should be fairly thick. If it is not, continue stiring and allowing the pudding to bubble and thicken.  Once thick, remove from heat, add the vanilla extract and immediately pour the pudding into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to cool in the refrigerator at least 2 hours.

The almond flour “wafers” we made turned out like shortbread, had a nice bite to them and were not overly sweet (which I enjoy).  This paleo almond flour cookie recipe was what we used in place of Nilla wafers.

Ingredients for Paleo Almond Flour “Nilla Wafers”:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar

To Bake the Paleo Almond Flour “Nilla Wafers”:

In a bowl or mixer, combine the oil, egg and vanilla extract.  Add the almond flour, baking powder, salt and agave.  Mix until it comes together in a ball and does not stick to your fingers, but is moist.

Place the dough on a large piece of parchment paper and form a cylinder (about 1.5” in diameter). Wrap the dough cylinder tightly in the parchment paper and place in the freezer for half an hour or in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the freezer/fridge and using a sharp knife, cut ¼” rounds and transfer to a cookie sheet.


Bake for 12 minutes or until the tops are slightly golden.

For homemade dairy-free, cane sugar-free banana pudding:

To compile the banana pudding, simply layer the pudding with wafers, sliced banana and whipped cream (we whipped cold coconut milk) if desired in a serving/casserole dish. If you have the time and patience, allow the compiled banana pudding to sit in the refrigerator an additional hour or more – this makes the “wafers” nice and soggy and ensures the vanilla pudding and banana flavors come together.  Serve in abundance!



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