Coconut is everywhere these days: beauty products, baked goods, and smoothies, just to name a few. With it comes a host of health benefits including antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Coconut is also nature’s best source of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), a.k.a. medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). But enough science speak. All you must know is that A.) coconut fat is easily digested (score!), and B.) coconut is quickly burned by the liver for energy (double score!).
Below is a who’s who of what to know regarding all things coconut…
Coconut Flour: Fiber rich and gluten free, it’s a great flour for those with celiac disease or on paleo/carbohydrate conscious diets. It adds a delicate sweetness to breads, muffins, and cookies complemented by a soft, moist crumb. It can be a little tricky to bake with so it is best to follow a recipe designed with coconut flour in mind (at least the first time around).
Coconut Nectar & Coconut Palm Sugar: The best news about coconut sap-based sweeteners is that they don’t cause blood sugar spikes the way other sweeteners do. They can be used cup for cup in any recipe calling for sugar; just be sure to stick to the nectar when a liquid sweetener is called for, and the palm sugar when a granulated sweetener is needed. The flavor profile of both isn’t at all coconut: I would describe it as a touch less sweet with a toasty caramel/molasses-like taste.
Coconut Oil: Probably the most versatile and most well-known product in the coconut family, the oil is made by extracting it from the flesh of the coconut. It is a heat stable oil with a high smoke point, making it ideal for stir fries and sautes as well as for baking. In addition to cooking, coconut oil can be used to soften dry patches of skin, as a deep conditioning treatment, as a night time eye treatment (which helps lighten dark circles), and as your lipid of choice for oil pulling.
Coconut Milk: Ah, milk! Coconut milk is the best substitute for dairy milk due to its thick, milky texture. It can be procured in a can or in a carton, like milk. The former is best for making curries and frozen desserts due to its richness, and the latter is best for cereal, baking, or in any application that calls for milk.
There you have it! A wee education on the mighty coconut. Make yourself a cup of tea, plop down, and treat yourself to one of these awesome foods!