We hope you all had an amazing holiday weekend filled with good food and even better memories.
This Thanksgiving we attempted to incorporate as many whole, natural, local foods into our delicious meal as possible.
For the main course, we enjoyed a cage free, handplucked turkey that my sister purchased from a local farm in Eugene. Using herbs and veggies from the local farmer’s markets, we made mashed sweet potatoes, homemade apple and pumpkin pies (even the crust!) and homemade whipped cream. Homemade coconut milk whipped cream.
Yum! This coconut whipped cream is yet another of the literally dozens of reasons why we love coconut. If you follow our posts, you may have noticed our obsession with this miraculous foods that tops the list of our “Foods For Life.” So we have decided it is time to dedicate a post to our number one: Coconut.
We have prolonged this particular post because there is such a vast array of health benefits associated with coconut consumption and so many different ways to use this fruit it is difficult to find a starting (and ending) point. We will attempt to keep this easy to follow, but please forgive us if it turns into information overload! :)
Let’s start with all the different ways you can consume coconut:
- Virgin coconut oil can be used for cooking and baking. The only other olive we use for these purposes is olive oil.
- Virgin coconut oil can also be used in place of butter or margarine, as a spread, or in place of any other oil you might use.
- Coconut water (the clear liquid inside green coconuts) is considered nature’s Gatorade and can be used in place of sports drinks due to it’s concentration of electrolytes and potassium. It can also be used in smoothies or as regular drinking water.
- Unsweetened coconut milk can be used in cereal, coffee, tea, baking, or any other place you might use dairy, soy or other nut milks.
- Coconut milk can be also made into coconut cream or whipped cream.
- Coconut meat (the white fleshy part of the coconut) can be dried and shredded and used in smoothies, baked goods, glazes, or mixed with other dishes.
- Coconut milk can be made into coconut ice cream, and coconut water can be used to make sherbets.
- Coconut nectar can be used in place of sugar, maple syrup, honey or other sweeteners in baked goods, coffees, or virtually any type of sweetener.
Coconut makes a great dairy replacement for those who are lactose intolerant, especially because it is easily digested. Coconut nectar and crystals have a low glycemic index and are thus good choices for diabetics. For some of our favorite brands, where to buy, and how to make coconut products, see the end of this post.
So now that we know how versatile coconut is, why should we start incorporating it into our diets?
Many people ask us why we personally use and recommend the use of coconut oil in place of other oils, especially because its high saturated fat content. Wait, isn’t saturated fat bad for you? In many cases, the answer is yes. The main reason why coconut oil rises above other oils is the type of saturated fat it contains.
Put simply, coconut oil contains primarily medium-chain fatty acids, also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MFCAs and MCTs). Most of the other fatty acids present in typical diets are long-chain (found in eggs, milk, meat and plants).
MFCAs, though a type of fat, are actually used by the body to produce energy, rather than stored as fat. They also stimulate metabolism, which can increase athletic performance and aid in fat loss. MCFAs also help reduce hypoglycemic cravings and prevent a rise in blood sugar.
Coconut oil also contains lauric acid (one type of MFCAs), which helps prevent high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Lauric acid can help fight HIV, herpes, measles, influenza and other bacteria attacks on the body. Coconut oil is the largest natural source of lauric acid, one of the life-supporting components of breast milk.
Coconut oil and other coconut products also support healthy immunity, digestion, and healing. High in fiber, vitamins E and K and trace minerals like iron and manganese, coconut is a serious superfood. The current recommended daily dosage of coconut oil (based on the paleo diet) is 1-3 tbsp.
Other beneficial uses of coconut oil are for hair and body products, including face washes and body butters.
When purchasing coconut oil, be sure to buy virgin (not just organic) coconut oil to reap maximum benefits.
We purchase our virgin coconut oil from our local natural foods store, Sundance. It originates in the Philippines and is bottled right here in Eugene by a local distributor. We also buy coconut nectar and crystals in bulk from this same store. Some bigger name brands are Nutiva and Tropical Traditions, among others. There are also online retailers that sell coconut oil in bulk at a better price (Amazon, Tropical Traditions). You can buy coconut milk in cartons at many natural food stores and bigger grocers, too (SoDelicious and Silk both make it now), or in cans.
Click the bulleted words below for links on how to make your own: