Vanilla panna cotta with fig and pistachio

Styling: Carlie Monasso. Photography: Bec Hudson


Panna cotta has long been one of my favourite desserts, as well as a nickname occasionally given to me by friends who think they’re pretty funny (because it rhymes with my surname).

It’s something I’ve always associated with indulgence, until recently, when I discovered a way to make this delicious Italian delicacy not only guilt free, but nutritious!

The key ingredient in this recipe is the gelatine – it’s a super food B.O.M.B. – and I’m not talking about the stuff you find on the super market self.  I’m talking about gelatine in it’s purest form – made from bones and connective tissue of animals. The list of health benefits is as long as my arm (well okay, that’s not hard) –  it’s a complete protein, containing all 18 amino acids. It  has gut healing properties, reduces inflammation (which is at the route of just about every known chronic health condition) aids digestion, maintains muscle mass and healthy hair, skin and nails.  It’s also believed to improve sleep quality and balance hormones.  I use Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar Gut Lovin’ Gelatin.

This recipe is also low in sugar.  I’ve used the tiniest amount of rice malt syrup which  is fructose free and low GI.  The addition of fig, which is high in phyto-nutrients, antioxidants and minerals (including calcium, potassium and iron) makes this a heavenly autumnal dessert.

I’ve used coconut milk as an anti-inflammatory alternative to dairy, but feel free to use what ever milk you like.

You will need:
2 pudding moulds (I used 75 x 42mm pudding moulds)

IQS Gelatin banner400ml coconut milk (I use Ayam which is available in major supermarkets)
2 tablespoons powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon water
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon rice malt syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 fresh fig, quartered
1/4 cup pistachios, finely chopped

What to do:

1. Mix the gelatine and water together, stirring immediately then let sit for a few mins until it becomes like a rubber ball.
2. Put coconut milk, vanilla bean, cinnamon and rice malt syrup in  saucepan over low heat
2. Add gelatine, stir until gelatin to the saucepan and stir until dissolved.
4. Pour into panna cotta mould (or glass jars or tumblers) and set in fridge for minimum 2 hours
5. Once the panna cotta is set remove from mould (loosening carefully with a cheese knife and tap mould against your hand or dunk it in and out of hot water very quickly!) and serve with fig and pistachios.

I love hearing about and seeing your recipe creations – if you do make this one be sure to tag me in your Instagram pics and hash tag #OMGhealthyrecipe.

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Zara is a healthy home coach and keynote speaker on a mission to empower 1 million people to takes steps towards a healthier home. Zara learned about the link between our homes and our health after going through two different types of cancer. Zara is passionate about shining the spotlight on what she believes to be the least understood health challenges of our time, and sharing the things she wishes she had known, that could have prevented the illnesses she has been through. Recognised as one of Australia’s leading health influencers, Zara was a finalist in the 2014 Bupa Health Influencer of the Year Awards. She has appeared on TEN News, Today Show and The Project, been featured in the Herald Sun, I Quit Sugar, and contributed Medibank’s Be. Magazine and Fairfax health online publications. Zara contributed to the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s first comprehensive report on breast cancer in young women in Australia.

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