When I went out to visit my dad on Vancouver Island last year, I happened to be there for Canadian Thanksgiving, and as I eat mostly paleo/primal, I offered to make our celebratory dessert – a delicious pumpkin custard from Nom Nom Paleo.
I arrived on Sunday, and the next day we were due to set out to Tofino (possibly my favourite place in the world). I decided to make the custard before we left, so that we could spend more time walking once we got to the coast. But somehow instead of turning the oven timer on, I turned the entire oven off – so the dessert went into a hot oven, surrounded by boiling water – and then just sat there for an hour. By the time I realized my mistake, it was too late. We had to leave.
Never one to give up in the face of obstacles, I took the semi-cooked custard, wrapped it carefully, and brought it with us for 3 hours of driving over twisty mountain roads, with frequent stops for walking around.
When we arrived, I took the custard, and despite being a bit dubious, baked it thoroughly.
And it turned out amazing.
As in, waaaaaaaay better than normal. Super creamy and silky smooth instead of being a bit crumbly like your normal pumpkin custard (aka pie filling). I’m not 100% sure why it was so good, but my theory is that all the shaking caused tiny air bubbles to escape, creating a denser finished product.
The moral of the story? Moving a lot is just as good for custard as it is for people!
Since then, I’ve made the same custard a few different times to try to recreate it, and I’ve discovered that it’s entirely possible to reproduce the densification effect. I’ve also realized that it’s not just about moving the custard – you, too, can move a lot while you make it!
Therefore, I am going to show you how you can make the world’s best breakfast/dessert while getting a whole lot of movement nutrition as well. (In case you’re wondering “Why pumpkin in February?” my answer is simply that it’s awesome, and a can is always in season).
I’m going to put the entire recipe, including the list of stuff, down at the bottom so it’s all in one spot for you. Right now, let’s focus on how you can get more movement in as you whip up your very own casserole dish full of heaven.
How You Get Your Stuff
First, you have to get your stuff. This means you should ask yourself – can you get your stuff differently from how you normally do?
Most of my food stuff is stored conveniently at around shoulder height. Redesigning my kitchen storage is probably a good way to add more movement to my life, but I’m not doing it today (since I have to write this post and make some custard). Instead, these are the options I came up with to make a more movement-friendly cooking experience.
- When you reach for something
- Keep your ribs down. If you can’t reach high enough without your ribs lifting, try climbing on something.’
- Rotate your arms to neutral – elbow pits should face up to the ceiling.
- Switch dominant hands – use your left hand if you’re right handed, and vice versa.
- What if it’s in a lower cupboard?
- How about a squat?
- Or a lunge?
- What else is an option?
- I had some frozen leftover pumpkin from the last time I made this. Which meant I got to go to the garage, where we keep our microwave. Bonus: mini-walk, outdoor time, and practice with cold adaptation, since I went barefoot and without a jacket.
Where You Put Your Stuff
- Now that you’ve found your stuff, what are you going to do with it?
- If you don’t have a dog, try putting it on the floor.
- If you do have a dog, do you have a coffee table or a tupperware box you can use as a low table?
- Putting your stuff down can mean squatting or lunging, but it may also be the perfect time to practice your hip hinge – bend at the hips while you stabilize your back to naturally lengthen your hamstrings. Boom!
- For actually making the recipe, I recommend a squat.
- If you have a rock box, you can work on your squat and your feet at the same time.
But, Sometimes You Have To Work At Counter Height
- Which just happens to be perfect for a calf stretch.
How You Move Counts
- I hold a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders. Especially when I whisk! Compare the two pictures below and you’ll notice the difference. While you make your custard, check your own body for tense areas and let go of any unnecessary tightness.
In one single dessert, I squatted (both as an up & down movement and as a working resting position), lunged, externally rotated my arms, practiced using my non-dominant side, went for a walk, stepped on different textures, exposed myself to different temperatures, worked to decrease my tension habits, stretched my calves & lengthened my hamstrings.
Can you find other ways to move while you cook? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
And here’s the recipe:
- 1¼ cup full-fat coconut milk (I used Aroy-D)
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup (original recipe uses a 1/2 cup, I prefer much less sweet but adjust to taste).
- ¾ cup canned pumpkin puree (I used ED Smith)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Electric kettle
- Deep casserole dish (for the custard – 1.5 quarts or a bit more)
- 9″x13″ baking dish (for the water bath)
- 1 small dish towel
- Small saucepan
- Measuring spoons
- Liquid measuring cup
- Dry measuring cups
Gather your ingredients. Preheat the oven to 325°F, and boil a full kettle of water.
Get a 9″ x 13” baking dish, and lay a small towel on the bottom (the towel will keep the custard from slipping around).
Heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan over low heat until it’s steaming but not boiling.
Crack the eggs into a large bowl, add the maple syrup, and whisk well.
Slowly add the warmed coconut milk to the egg and syrup mixture (a little bit at a time) and mix vigorously. (Don’t be impatient and add the hot coconut milk all at once or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs!).
Add the pumpkin, spices, vanilla, and salt and stir until well-blended.
Ladle the custard into your casserole dish – not the one with the dishcloth, but the smaller one that will fit inside the first one. Make sure it’s not too full – you’re going to need to jiggle the custard, so you need room.
Pour boiling water into the baking dish until it reaches halfway up the side of the casserole dish. Carefully place the custard in the oven – and now, turn off the oven!
Leave the custard there for about 30-45 minutes. Then remove the entire contraption. Take the custard out of the water – it should be thickened but not at all actually cooked – and empty the water from the baking dish, but leave the dish towel.
Jiggle it (but be careful not to spill any of that precious liquid). Then, put it somewhere cool to rest. Leave it there for at least 3 hours, but make sure to jiggle it a couple more times.
When you’re ready to finish cooking, turn the oven back on to 325°F & boil some more water. Put the casserole dish back into the baking dish, and pour in boiling water to about half-way up.
Bake your custard for about an hour & 15 minutes, but start checking around an hour. The custard is ready when a knife inserted into it comes out clean and it’s still slightly wobbly in the middle.
Allow to cool and then enjoy with pride, ideally while sitting on the floor!
P.S. Of course, you can skip the cooling and jiggling step if you want to, but honestly, it makes a huge difference to the finished product, so I don’t recommend it.