This version of banana pudding ensures vegans have a seat at the table
Thanksgiving fare doesn’t have to be unhealthy, and vegans, who don’t eat animal products, don’t have to miss out on the feast. That’s the philosophy of Tammie Letroise-Brown, who wants to ensure everyone has a seat at the holiday table.
Letroise-Brown enjoys coaching people to healthier eating, and has the perfect job as real food coordinator for Galveston’s Own Farmers Market, she said.
“In all the research and reading I’ve done about healthy eating, there is a real move away from talking about good and bad foods and more towards people eating food in moderation,” she said. “It’s about being aware of the effects of eating different foods and connecting with food in a more mindful way.”
Letroise-Brown first embarked on her healthy eating journey when her husband, Jacob, had health issues related to food allergies.
“It seemed really obnoxious to keep eating pizza and cakes in front of him, so I started researching new ways of baking and cooking,” she said.
For Thanksgiving and other holidays, she makes for Jacob a vegan version of a rich and creamy banana pudding. The version uses plant-based milks rather than dairy, and homemade
vanilla wafers. It can be made the day ahead and it isn’t any more time-intensive than the traditional scratch version of the luscious pudding, Letroise-Brown said.
“Our son Dylan loves it, too, but he likes all the components to be separate, so he has the deconstructed version,” she said. “He especially likes the little vanilla wafers as they are the perfect size for him.”
Pinterest was an early source for plant-based cooking information, as were websites Minimalist Baker and Forks Over Knives. Letroise-Brown enjoys trying different recipes and making her own additions, she said. Her research led to her studying with the American Fitness Professionals Association and she recently received her Holistic Nutrition Certification. She also is a keen gardener who grows her own vegetables and herbs and has two chickens.
Letroise-Brown grew up in La Marque and worked in public relations for many years with corporations and large organizations, including NASA’s Johnson Space Center. She enjoys using both her communication and nutritional expertise for Galveston’s Own Farmers Market. One of her projects has been the real food boxes, which entailed 30 families receiving boxes of fresh foods for four months. The boxes included food from local vendors and recipes for how to cook the produce.
“We had different recipes each week, which we shared in English and Spanish,” she said. “We also created Quick Bites videos that we shared on our YouTube channel. Each video focused on a different vegetable like carrots, kale and eggplant, and showed people quick and easy ways to cook that vegetable. It was incredibly rewarding as I’m passionate about educating people about food and how to cook it.”
Next up for Letroise-Brown is an online cooking class hosted by Galveston’s Own Farmers Market on Nov. 20. For this Thanksgiving-themed class, she’ll share her vegan banana pudding recipe, a sweet potato soup recipe and a non-traditional take on turkey.
Tammie Letroise-Brown’s Vegan Banana Pudding
1 bowl vegan vanilla pudding (see recipe)
5 ripe bananas sliced into coins
2 dozen vegan vanilla wafers (see recipe or buy vegan vanilla wafers)
1 container non-dairy whipped cream
Ground cinnamon for topping
In a large (8-by-8-inch or 9-by-12-inch) casserole dish, layer the bottom of the dish with half the wafers. Cover with half the pudding. Layer sliced bananas on top of the pudding.
Repeat this once more or until all the wafers, pudding and bananas are used, or your dish is filled to the top.
Just before serving, top with non-dairy whipped cream using as much as desired. Lightly sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Enjoy cold. Keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days, though it looks best served the same day.
Vegan Vanilla Pudding
1½ cups soy milk (or other plant-based milk)
1 cup unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
½ cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
In a medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch and white sugar. Add ¼ cup of the soy milk. Whisk into a thick paste.
Turn the stove to medium heat. Slowly whisk in the remaining soy milk and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, keeping the pudding at a simmer. Simmer until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Once thickened, remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Cool in the fridge before using.
Vegan Vanilla Wafers
Yields: 2-3 dozen
½ cup vegan butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or vanilla paste)
11⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar with a hand or stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to over beat. Beat in the vanilla until just combined.
In a small bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter and sugar mixture, beating until combined. (The dough will appear kind of crumbly like sand.)
Use a teaspoon to evenly portion cookie dough. Roll each teaspoon into a ball before putting on a parchment lined baking sheet. Space cookies 2 inches apart.
Bake until the edges are golden brown, 15-18 minutes. (Use 1-3 minutes less time if you’d like a softer cookie.) Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days at room temperature or freeze for up to 3 months.
Notes from Tammie Letroise-Brown
Non-dairy whip cream is available in most grocery stores.
If you don’t like soy milk, you can use any non-dairy milk. After trying the recipe with different plant-based milks, I like the taste of the pudding with oat milk as well. I would not omit the coconut milk; its richness adds a luxe creaminess to the dish.
I love to use vanilla bean paste in place of the vanilla extract in the wafer recipe. It gives them a bit of an extra vanilla punch. I use the same amount as stated for the extract.