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Chocolate yogurt pudding

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Have you ever tried to make plain yogurt into a delicious chocolate pudding? I’ve tried many times, and it just never tasted right. I finally found the secret, however—using Sucanat or turbinado sugar instead of stevia.

Sucanat is basically dehydrated sugar cane juice. It’s raw and has all the natural vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals in sugar cane. Turbinado sugar is often referred to as raw sugar, but actually it is the next step in the processing sequence. Turbinado sugar is raw cane juice that has been stripped of its impurities and its natural molasses, as well as its vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals. Sucanat is obviously preferable since it has more nutritional value, but turbinado sugar is usually easier to find. Nutra Foods Huber Heights carries both of these.

Whether you choose Sucanat or turbinado sugar, try to find the organic, because non-organic sugar cane is nearly always GMO. Either of these is better for you than refined white sugar, but remember that unlike stevia they are both still sugar so you’re eating a real sugary dessert, not a naturally sugar-free sweet.

I use stevia in most things I make that need sweetening, but for chocolate pudding nothing takes the place of sugar. I was out of Sucanat, so I used organic turbinado sugar. Note that turbinado sugar comes in the form of large crystals. These do not dissolve well without heating, so I recommend putting your sugar in the Vitamix and grinding it finer for a few seconds. Otherwise, your pudding will be gritty. You can see my first attempt at this recipe in the picture. I didn’t grind the sugar, and the gritty texture is obvious there. The next time I measured the sugar before grinding; if you grind before measuring, remember that you may want a little less than 2 tablespoons.

I used Fage brand yogurt for this recipe. Fage is my go-to brand because it has a less tart taste than other yogurts and is nice and thick. The little 7-oz. size I used here is currently on sale at Kroger's for $1.00. I used the 2% yogurt for this, but don't be afraid to choose the full-fat yogurt once in awhile instead of the 2%. New research shows that full-fat yogurt has benefits for lowering your blood sugar, and the full-fat version is really decadent and delicious.

Here’s my recipe:

1 small container Fage 2% plain yogurt (7 oz.)

1 T. cocoa powder

2 T. Sucanat or turbinado sugar

3 drops vanilla

1 tiny pinch sea salt (just a few grains)

Mix these ingredients until smooth and fully combined. You’ll be tempted to mix it right in the yogurt cup. That’s what I did, because I love shortcuts and washing fewer dishes. Actually, though, I found it’s easier to dump the yogurt into a bowl to mix it, because otherwise there’s just not enough room in the Fage cup for all the ingredients. Unless you like having a cloud of cocoa powder and sugar everywhere like I did, just don’t try it. You can still put it back into the cup when you’re done mixing if you like.

This pudding gave me the flavor I was looking for. It reminded me much more of real chocolate pudding than my past attempts, and it was quick and easy to make. Plus, making it with the 7-oz. personal sized yogurt instead of the much larger tub ensures that you won’t eat a giant-sized serving. The little cup makes just the right amount to satisfy your sweet tooth without overdoing the sugar. It’s smooth, it’s creamy, and it’s chocolaty and sweet—it’s really a lot like pudding!

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