Creating A Poi-fect Pudding With Cacao

A healthier pudding | Brynn Foster photo

A healthier pudding | Brynn Foster photo

Brynn Foster founded Voyaging Foods to merge her culinary interests with her Hawaiian ancestry, and as a way to pre- serve the poi that her family couldn’t eat fast enough. She says: “Any time poi would arrive in stores, we would hoard it. By making it into a flour, I was able to extend the taro in different ways in different meals.”

She made a powder from the poi for gluten-free teething biscuits and cookies as a healthier alternative to the overly sweet and fiber-empty gluten-free foods available.

After researching studies and reports on taro, Brynn unearthed the history on taro flour and found that Hawaii’s agricultural history included a number of companies involved its production. In the late 1880s, King Kalakaua enacted a bill creating a subsidy for the manufacture of taro flour. Taro flour became an export for the Mainland health market. Subsidizing our farmers of canoe plants such as taro, ‘ulu (breadfruit) and sweet potato, is what Brynn wants to see happen again.

She states: “We hear talk about food security and growing future farmers. Let’s invest in this actually happening. Our company’s core values are to support food-growing land in Hawaii while growing a healthy community.”

Brynn grew up in Southern California and is a graduate of Pepperdine University. Her hobbies are painting, getting inspiration from the cultural creatives and social entrepreneurs around the world, experimenting with a variety of ingredients (like all the different rice and taro types), swimming in the ocean and traveling off the beaten path with her family and friends.

Ancestral Taro Powder from Voyaging Foods will be available in Whole Foods Kailua, Kahala and Maui stores this week. Certified gluten-free Ancestral Taro Powder can be used as a thickener in soups, stews and gravy, and just one serving, or 2 tablespoons, equals 10 times more fiber than 2 table- spoons cornstarch.

You can find out more about the products and company at or on Twitter via @VoyagingFoods. Brynn adapted this recipe from one by Jeffrey Sampson, culinary instructor at Kapolei High School, so it is healthier and both gluten and dairy-free, as well as vegan! His students will be utilizing Voyaging Foods Taro Powder in some senior projects and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) competitions.

• 1/3 cup sugar (we use palm sugar)
• 2 cups milk (can use dairy- free milk, like almond milk or full-fat coconut milk)
• 2 tablespoons unsweetened cacao powder
• 2 tablespoons Ancestral Taro Powder (you can increase or reduce amount to your preference)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in a saucepan. Turn heat to medi- um and whisk in the milk. Stir to combine the simmering liquid for about 2 minutes. It will slightly bubble around the edges. Add vanilla and stir to combine.

Remove from heat and let cool. The mixture will be pourable. Pour into small indi- vidual bowls and place plastic wrap over the top to avoid a skin on top. Place in the refrigerator to cool and set until ready to serve, about three hours.
Makes six servings, depending on the size of dessert glasses.

Optional, to make different flavors and add toppings:

• Chocolate version: Add 2 tablespoons chopped chocolate to the cooled pudding.
• Coconut: Add 1 cup shred- ded coconut after pudding is cooked, then move into refrigerator to cool.
• Pineapple: Add 1 cup chopped and drained fresh pineapple. Make sure to squeeze out some of the juice, as the acid will not allow the mix to set.