This month I have been enjoying the delightful coconut in it’s many forms: jelly coconut, coconut water, coconut milk, fresh coconut meat, dried coconut and coconut oil.
- Coconut “milk” (as opposed to “water”) is obtained by blending the fruit flesh. It is used in many raw food dishes, sauces, soups and smoothie drinks.
- Coconut oil (fat) is used in raw desserts, sweets, smoothies and cakes.
- Coconut water contains many vitamins and in the countries in which it is grown is valued as a drinking water substitute. It is also fermented to wine and is processed to other drinks.
- Dried coconut, desiccated and flakes for coconut milk, smoothies and sweets.
Coconuts are classified as a “functional food” and a fibrous one-seeded drupe. A drupe is a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed (like a peach or olive). Although the name my be confusing, this versatile fruit has been around for millions of years and contains less sugar and more protein than some other fruit and is high in electrolytes and minerals.
As children of a African and Indian Caribbean family, we would use coconut oil to care for our hair and skin, as well as medicinally, to treat common ailments like eczema. We would eat the fresh crunchy white flesh and drink the water as a treat, while looking forward to the added bonus of scooping out the ‘jelly’ after downing the thirst quenching water!
When I was visiting Kerala (which means “Land of Coconut Trees”) in South West India, it was awesome to see how the coconut industry there, ultilises an entire coconut tree in very productive ways, for food, traditional medicine, craft and industry. The leaves are used to make sheds, baskets, and doormats, the husk for making coir, the shell for making ladles and spoons, and fruits used for making hair oil or for eating. Coconut is a staple ingredient in many dishes and coconut oil is widely consumed and used to make drinks. In Jamaica, where my family are from, we use coconuts in much the same way.
Nothing can beat holding a fresh jelly coconut in your hands and drinking the water through a straw, however coconut water has now become so popular, that new brands are popping up everywhere, and even though they are pasteurised, some do taste pretty good. I have been testing the VitaCoco natural coconut water in my raw food recipes whenever I can’t get hold of fresh raw jelly coconuts and have found the flavour to be quite favourable.
In the raw food movement, coconut in all its culinary guises, has enjoyed much popularity, due it’s many health and nutrition benefits. With its unmistakable flavour, coconut oil, milk and water is used in an array of raw food dishes and drinks. However do be careful and check that your coconut product is from a reputable source and is a non-GMO (genetically modified organism) type. Coconut oil contains a lot of ‘healthy’ fat, but it’s still better not to overdo it on fat generally. So think again before including too many ‘healthy’ fats (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil etc) in one meal…
I’m often asked where to buy fresh coconuts and if you live in London (UK) as I do, I get my fresh coconuts from Caribbean and Indian grocers, mainly in areas with larger Caribbean and Asian communities; and of course if I am out and about in Chelsea (Saturdays), or Spitalfields (Sundays) markets, I can get them from the Rainforest Creations (www.rainforestcreations.co.uk) stall there.
I’ve posted lots of raw coconut dishes on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Sistahintheraw) this month, so do take a look.
And by the way, if you are looking for support to further your wellbeing journey, I’m starting a six week “Feed Your Soul‘ personal nourishment group in early June!
Till next time