Jessica Alba On Going With Your Gut (And Filling It With Bread Pudding)

Jessica Alba is a woman of the people. The down-to-earth mompreneur earned a place on our list of the 15 most important women in the food industry due to her dedication to creating a line of affordable, safe baby products. “I have always been driven. I have always questioned authority. I don’t take no for an answer when I feel passionate about something being right or doing something the right way. This is not from an arrogant or ego-driven place, but from healthy products for families, that’s just right. And making them affordable, that’s just right, and fundamentally they should be available,” the Sin City star told Healthy Hollywood.

Unsurprisingly, The Honest Company is flourishing. When the brand’s celebrity co-founder isn’t busy starring in follow-ups to her blockbuster hits (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is set for release August 2, 2014) she’s dishing out product and recipe tips to other multitasking moms. In a recent interview with US Weekly, the actress revealed her mommy must-haves, among them jumbo Melissa & Doug crayons (“they’re unbreakable”), Ore’s utensils ([Haven] won’t eat unless she has them!), and Honest and Aden + Anais’ swaddle (When Havie’s getting sleepy in the car, she usually says, ‘I want to be nice and cozy!’ So I toss it back to her. It’s huge, so it’s also good for impromptu picnics.”).

Good to know, but we’re more interested in learning the secret behind the health-conscious chef’s gluten-free apple banana bread pudding, a photo of which the self-professed Instagram addict recently posted on her account. Thankfully, People pleaded for the recipe and the ever-obliging Alba more than willingly gave it up. Alba, alongside daughters Honor (5) and Haven (2) “adapted this recipe from Denise Jardine’s The Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Kitchen, a cookbook that I have in my collection.”

Alba praises the dessert: “One of the reasons I love bread pudding is that the recipes are so versatile. You easily can adjust them to your liking and use what ingredients you have at home. While you can use any bread and milk you like, I cubed gluten-free bread because it’s dense and really soaked up the tasty coconut milk I used for the cream base. Don’t be afraid to try cow’s, almond, soy, or rice milks depending on your dietary needs.” Her only gripe? “If I were making this again, I would layer in more chocolate chips than the recipe called for!” A woman after our own hearts.

Jessica Alba’s Apple Banana Bread Pudding (serves 6)

6 cups light packed, day-old, gluten-free sandwich bread, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 apples, cored and cut into small pieces (“Make sure to wash [them] really well, even if [they’re] organic, to get rid of the handling contaminants, bacteria and dirt,” cautions Alba, who uses her Honest Fruit+ Veggie Wash.)
2 bananas, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dairy-free and gluten-free chocolate chips
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
Cinnamon, optional
Vanilla sugar, optional
6 large eggs (or egg whites)
3 1/2 cups vanilla coconut milk

1. Thoroughly grease an 8″ x 11″ x 2″ glass baking dish. Scatter half of the bread cubes evenly over the bottom of the dish. Distribute the apples and bananas in a single layer on top of the bread.
2. Sprinkle half of the chocolate and half of the brown sugar evenly over the fruit. (Add a sprinkle of cinnamon and vanilla sugar, if desired.) Scatter the remaining bread and chocolate evenly over the top.
3. Whisk together the eggs and milk in a large bowl until well blended. Slowly put the egg mixture over the top of the bread. Set the dish aside for 20 minutes, periodically pushing the bread down lightly with the back of a fork, until the bread has absorbed much of the egg mixture. Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar on top of the bread (and a second sprinkle of cinnamon and vanilla sugar, if desired.). While the bread is soaking, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Set the baking dish in a larger pan; transfer to the oven and add enough hot water to the larger pan to reach halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours. The pudding should be slightly soft in the center and crisp on top. Remove from the oven and allow it to cook for 15 minutes before serving.