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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gluten Free Watermelon Pudding + Melon Allergies & Oral Allergy Syndrome

Pudding is free of gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, eggs, corn and sugar

Watermelon has left the building! 

I realize I'm behind on posting this. Most people have moved on from watermelon and summer fruit to pureeing and preserving pumpkins. I searched the farmers market in vain this weekend for more watermelon. But just over a week ago I shared a super frugal recipe for Watermelon Rind Soup, and I promised I would share another cooked watermelon recipe.

So this week I'm posting this funky pink pudding - Sicilian style. If you look hard enough, you can probably still find some watermelon so you can enjoy this on a sunny fall day.

As I mentioned in my last watermelon post, I'm allergic to melons, thanks to Oral Allergy Syndrome, a hay fever related autoimmune disorder that causes allergies to pollen-related foods. Melons make my tongue itchy, and, while cutting up my watermelon last week, I discovered they make my fingers numb and tingly, too! Fun stuff.

BUT I can have cooked melons, because the heating process helps destroy the allergen proteins, making them safer to eat.

So I searched around looking for cooked or boiled watermelon recipes and one of the ones I came up with was an Italian watermelon pudding, apparently a traditional Sicilian style dessert. I love the way it looked and I love Italy (my husband proposed on a park bench in Venice. How on earth could I say no?!), but I had one little problem...

My watermelon was yellow.

I really wanted a pink pudding. I don't use artificial colouring. Why? 

* It's weird.
* It's not food. It's literally called artificial. You wouldn't eat artificial plastic food, so why eat artificial food colour?
* It comes with a # sign after it.
* In Europe, food dyes have been removed from food. Europe is smart, most countries there have banned GMOs. That's one of the benefits of public health care, the government doesn't want you to get sick because it will cost them more.

So how to naturally dye my yellow pudding pink? 

Well some of you know how I have a bit of a thing for beets! Who could forget my Bright Red Beet Bread? There are usually some baked beets kicking around in my fridge, so I just popped a slice of beet in alone with my watermelon for a little bit when I was blending it and Voila! Pink pudding :)
Traditional Sicilian watermelon pudding calls for cornstarch and 1 cup sugar. I subbed those out and tried them with a much smaller amount of honey and some tapioca starch, and it worked quite nicely. I like the flavour of this pudding with the cinnamon and vanilla, but I do think that next time I'll try it without them to get more of the watermelon flavour.

Yeah, the lighting in the kitchen makes this look more orange than it really is!

Straining after blending is important to remove any stray seeds or, in this case, bits of beets! 

That little black speck is a ground seed. That's why it's important to strain!


2 c watermelon puree / about 2.5 - 3 cups cubed melon (directions below)
1/4 c tapioca starch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c honey (I suspect brown sugar or stevia would work also)
1/2 tsp vanilla


Prepare pudding molds on counter. (I lined up old cleaned-out candle holders)

1.Peel and de-seed watermelon. (Save the rind for Watermelon Rind Soup). In a blender, food processor, or using a hand blender, blend watermelon until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, flour sac or cheesecloth to remove any seeds or hard bits. This might seem unnecessary, but trust me, you'll almost always miss a seed or two!

2. Reserve 1/4 c puree  (sorry, typo fix) Whisk 2 Tbsp cold water with the tapioca starch and cinnamon until smooth.

3. In a medium-sized pot, heat the 1.5 c watermelon over medium-high heat. Bring watermelon to a boil and whisk in honey. Cook for 10 minutes. Whisk in the tapioca-water mix, reduce heat to simmer, and stir constantly until thickened, about 8 minutes.

4. Remove from heat, whisk in vanilla and pour into pudding containers. Chill for 1-2 hours before serving.

Garnish with cinnamon, chocolate flakes, ground pistachios or whipped cream.

Have you ever tried watermelon pudding?

This post was shared on the following great link parties: Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Fat Tuesday, The Hearth and Soul Hop, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Tasty Traditions, Whole Food Fridays, Healing with Food Friday, Fight Back Friday,


  1. I've never tried watermelon pudding, but now I am interested!

    1. It's a fun and unusual dessert! Let me know if you try it :)

  2. I didn't even think of cooking watermelon. It does sound good :)

  3. Now I'm going to be scouring the stores for watermelon, because I HAVE to make this. you are so resourceful to color with beets--I love it!

    1. Thanks! A little bit of beet goes a looong way to colour food. I use it to make pink icing, too, for my beet chocolate chip cupcakes ;) If you try the watermelon pudding, I'd love to hear what you think of it!

  4. Oral Allergy Syndrome, who knew? I grew up with hay fever in Ohio, and at age 18 we moved to Florida but returned briefly for my cousin's wedding. I couldn't figure out why my throat itched so much after eating the melon fruit cup and couldn't find anyone else in subsequent years who suffered as I did. All cucurbits, sometimes strawberries, mango, carrots, even almonds give me the same trouble. Forty years later I finally found out it was related to hay fever and there are others out there. I also never thought of cooking melons, great idea! I'm also wondering what our Texas cows are eating lately

  5. Oral Allergy Syndrome, who knew? I've had it for 40 years now, only recently found out there were others out there like me. I get itchy throat from cucurbits, mangoes, bananas, strawberries, even almonds, seems to go in cycles, maybe when airborne allergies are worst? I'm even itching a little from raw milk the pay few days, wonder what the cows are eating?

    1. Hi Joan, some people definitely notice their OAS is worse during pollen season. From what I've heard, some are lucky enough not to react at all to certain foods when the pollens aren't high, but then do when it's hay fever season. It's not clear what connection, if any, there is between raw milk and pollen, but I react to raw milk also and I do suspect it's because of the pollens the cows are ingesting. I'm ok with yogurt, though, and eat it in copious amounts :)

      I'm working on figuring out ways to cook down every fruit and vegetable I meet so I can eat them all ;)

  6. What a simple, lovely recipe! I am totally going to try this! I would love it if you would link up with us at Healing With Food Friday!

  7. Shared this on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks so much for the wonderful contribution to Healing With Food Friday! :)

  8. I've never seen a yellow watermelon before! I love how you coloured it naturally. Your Watermelon Pudding looks wonderful - so pretty and so delicious!

    1. Thanks, April. It's a fun dessert and I don't think anybody would expect it at a dinner party ;)

  9. Yahoooooo!!! I have the same allergy and haven't eaten watermelon in YEARS!! I never realized you could cook them! THANKS FOR THE RECIPE!!

    1. You're very welcome! I also definitely recommend the watermelon rind soup :)

  10. Looks fantastic, I wish I could have yellow watermelons! You could always use gelatine instead of tapioca to give it a bit of protein and gut-healing abilities. You still dissolve it in water and add it at the same time, maybe a bit later, when you take the mixture off the heat. :)

    1. Hi Jordie, you're right, you definitely could use gelatine. I didn't because I don't eat red meat and don't keep vegan gelatine handy, but for those who do it's a good option. The texture would probably be better with gelatine, too.


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