Nuts for Coconuts

I'm simply crazy about coconuts. Maybe its my island roots. (I was born in Hawaii.) Maybe it's that for so long I thought saturated fat was bad for you, so I steered clear of the tropical delight. But the first time I dipped my spoon into a jar of coconut oil, I flipped my lid. How had I been missing this stuff? Now my kitchen is well stocked with a whole mess of coconut products; read on for a peek into my pantry!

The coconut is a wondrous thing. Botanists actually have trouble agreeing on how exactly to categorize it. According to the  Library of Congress the coconut is a "one seeded drupe" like an olive. Even though the FDA classifies coconuts as a tree nut, most people who have other tree nut allergies won't be affected to coconuts (ask your doctor, of course). Most botanists refer to coconut as a one-seeded fruit. And an extremely versatile, delicious one at that...

photo courtesy:

photo courtesy:

Coconut Palms are known to many islands cultures as "the Tree of Life" for the hundreds of different ways all parts of the coconut can be used. Coconuts were used by ancient Polynesians for food, drink, shelter, tools, fiber for clothing, as a fuel source, and as musical instruments! It's reported that during World War II in tropical areas, some doctors in short supply of IV fluid used coconut water to some degree of success. 

And while I'm not making tools or shelter from the outer coconut husks (yet...) I'll share with you a few of my favorite coconut products and their uses!

A peek into my pantry: COCONUTS!

(from left to right) 

1. Coconut Aminos

Made from the sap of the coconut tree and with a salty-sweet flavor, coconut aminos are a good substitute for soy sauce, for anyone with soy allergies or avoiding soy. I like that it's a raw product rather than heavily processed like most soy sauces. 

Uses: Salad dressing, sushi dip, stir-fry seasoning. 

2. Coconut Oil

We use so much coconut oil, I had to start buying it at Costco. Thankfully most Costcos carry Nutiva Organic cold-pressed virgin coconut oil in the big barrel- 78 fl. ounces!

Uses: Coconut is my favorite cooking oil because it handles high heat well and I love the flavor. But I also use coconut oil as a moisturizer and facial cleanser!  

3. Coconut Vinegar

I like all types of vinegars; but the light-sweet flavor of coconut vinegar makes it great in salad dressings or wherever you'd use a white vinegar. Coconut Secret is the only brand I've seen lately, and they make a 100% organic raw version. 

fave use: in an easy vinaigrette of 1 part vinegar, 2 parts avocado oil, salt, pepper, lemon, chopped parsley, and minced fresh garlic.

4. Coconut Butter

Hang onto your hat - this one is life changing, especially for Sugar Detoxers. Coconut butter has a little more of the coconut flesh in it than the oil; when warmed it has a creamy buttery texture and slightly sweet flavor from the natural sugars in coconut. HEAVEN. Also known as Coconut Manna. Pictured is my favorite brand, Artisana Organic Raw. 

Uses: Not so much for cooking, more for eating straight out of the jar in large spoonfuls. Or try my Butter Bombs recipe.

5. Coconut Milk

My favorite brand is hard to find (order online or at OB People's Co-op in San Diego) but it's worth the look if you're avoiding stabilizer gums like guar gum, which many other brands contain. 

Uses: Whip it up in the blender for a few seconds when you take it out of the can; it can separate when it sits for a while. Then use it in your coffee instead of cream (so decadent), or a topping for fresh berries instead of whipped cream.

6. Coconut Chips (or flakes)

Make sure to check the ingredients on these; all you need is coconut! Whole Foods carries a very lightly toasted version of the chips pre-packaged, and flakes in the bulk bins.

Uses: sprinkle that shit on everything. Or eat them straight out of the container like chips. I like them sprinkled over berries and a little cream. Try my Coconut Crusted Chicken recipe.

7. Coconut Flour 

A great replacement for regular flour for those looking for grain-free and gluten free options. Coconut flour is a natural by-product of the coconut milk-making process. I buy it in bulk from Whole Foods. You can see that different batches have different colors (like any natural, unbleached product) in the picture where I dumped a new batch in on top of the old! 

Uses: rather than a 1:1 ratio, when replacing regular wheat flour, use more like 1/3 or 1/4 cup of coconut flour to replace 1 cup regular. You may want to sift it as it can be clumpy. Also use a s thickener for stews or soups.

ALSO TRY: (not pictured) raw coconut pieces (Whole Foods cooler section), Coconut Flakes (unsweetened), coconut water (raw, unflavored). 

How about you?? Do you have any favorite coconut products or recipes? Comment and share if so!  

in coconut love, January