This creamy probiotic coconut panna cotta is fresh, light and super easy to make (and make ahead). It’s one of those great sweets that’s decedent enough for dessert, and nourishing enough for breakfast too. Because it’s rich in gut healing compounds, probiotics and healthy fats, it’s a delicious way to help support kids with digestive complaints, allergies, food sensitivities, eczema, mood disorders and trouble sleeping. Simply serve plain or alongside some seasonal fruit or fruit coulis.
Panna cotta is usually made with milk or cream, but I’ve made this with coconut milk and coconut kefir (or yoghurt) because I love the sweet flavour of coconut milk and the tartness the kefir adds, as well as some gut loving probiotics. I don’t heat the kefir so as to preserve the live cultures and – when I want an extra probiotic boost – I’ll add some of Otis’s probiotic powder to the mixture too.
I love using coconut milk in place of diary – especially when cooking – because it’s naturally sweet and high in healthy saturated fats. The fats in coconut milk are known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). When we consume MCTs go straight to the liver, where they’re used as a quick source of energy for the body and brain. These MCTs – called lauric acid and capric acid – also have potent antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Lauric acid is one of the fats found in breast milk that provides vital immune support for babies, helping to kill harmful pathogens.
When buying coconut milk, look for one in a BPA-free can that contains no added thickeners or emulsifiers, and it doesn’t need to be organic. I like this one from the supermarket. Coconut kefir and yoghurt is becoming more readily available at the supermarket, but again, check the ingredients list for unwanted sugars, emulsifiers and thickeners. I like this one, which contains only coconut milk, tapioca starch and live cultures.
I’ve spoken at length about the health benefits of gelatin here – it’s wonderful for healing the gut, supporting healthy joints, bones and skin and helps promote restful sleep. It’s also a balanced source of protein and helps keep blood sugar levels in check – this, combined with the healthy fats is what you want in a sweet for kids, because it will fill their tummies (they won’t be telling you they’re still hungry after), help signal to their body when they’re full (they’ll feel satisfied after one serving) and stop them from bouncing off the walls after (from the spike in their blood sugar – although that wouldn’t happen with these anyway, there’s only a touch of rice malt syrup in there).
When it comes to getting the most health benefits from gelatin, it’s important to choose a good quality one. The chemically-treated packs of gelatin powders you can find at the supermarket won’t provide you with the same health benefits of a quality grass-fed or organic gelatin powder. Look for a gelatin that uses pasture-raised, grass-fed or organically raised animals – this means no added hormones or antibiotics. Check the ingredients lists too and avoid products that contain any additional, preservatives (like sulphur dioxide 220/E220), thickeners (like guar gums), or sweeteners (like maltodextrin). I like this one and this one.
As I mentioned, there’s only a touch of rice malt syrup in this probiotic coconut panna cotta – I actually prefer the natural sweetness of the coconut milk and leave it out most of the time. Just add a little and taste your mixture before it sets, you can always add more if you need.
PROBIOTIC COCONUT PANNA COTTA
Serves: 2 big/4 small – Prep time: 5 mins – Cool time: 2 hrs
250ml coconut milk
250ml coconut kefir (or coconut yoghurt)
1-2 Tbsp rice malt syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2.5 tsp gelatin
Fresh seasonal fruit or fruit coulis, to serve *optional
- To a small bowl add gelatin and 2 tsp water, mix and leave to “bloom”.
- In a small saucepan, gently warm coconut milk over low heat.
- Add vanilla and rice malt syrup (if using), stir to combine and turn off heat.
- Add bloomed gelatin blob to coconut milk mixture and whisk until all combined. If the gelatin hasn’t fully dissolved, return the saucepan to the stove and heat ever-so-gently over low heat, stirring constantly – you don’t want it to boil.
- Add coconut milk mixture and coconut yogurt – and any probiotic powder you’re using – to a blender and mix on a medium speed until combined. If the gelatin hasn’t fully dissolved, return the saucepan to the stove and heat ever-so-gently over low heat, stirring constantly – you don’t want it to boil.
- Pour in to 2 large or 4 small ramekins (or glasses/jars if you don’t want to turn them out) and place in the fridge for 2-4 hours or until set.
- To remove from mould, dunk the ramekins in hot water for a few seconds, then run a sharp knife just around the edge to loosen it from the sides.
- Place a plate over the top and holding the ramekin and plate together invert the ramekin and the panna cotta should plop out on to the plate – it may need a little jiggle of encouragement.
- Serve as is or with fresh seasonal fruit or fruit coulis.