Coconut: The Wondernut

In the last decade or so, coconut products have risen to star status. Coconut water is trending up a storm these days; rich in vitamins and nutrients, it’s a huge draw for health-conscious consumers. Markets are carrying coconut everything from coconut milk, cream, oil, flour to all sorts of skin and hair care products. With an increase in allergies and intolerances to gluten and dairy, coconut has become an excellent alternative — it is naturally gluten and dairy free, after all. 

Topmost photo: Coconut cream on pumpkin pie.

For thousands of years and for a third of the world’s population, the coconut (the fruit of the palm Cocos nucifera) has been a staple dietary and economic resource (historians debate its exact origins). The word coconut first appeared in English in 1555 when Portuguese explorers noticed that the coconut’s three distinct germinating holes resembled a coco “monkey face.”

Wherever the exact birthplace (the current theory is South East Asia), the coconut has been valued and utilized for its range of uses for quite some time. Grown extensively throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, the coconut is often referred to as “the tree of life.” Not only is coconut an excellent source of nutrition (see an extensive list here), virtually fat free, high in anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins, but the roots, leaves and wood can also be used for fuel, fiber, and various building materials. What’s more, the seed (the coconut itself) floats! Its buoyancy allows the coconut to travel long distances and to relocate in suitable climates.

Coconut Milk

For more information on the coconuts exceptional versatility watch this YouTube clip from Survivorman “South Pacific” (at the 10 minute mark) to learn the many uses of the coconut.

Where to find coconut in Victoria:

Markets:

 

Lifestyles Market – 2950 Douglas Street

Market on Yates – 903 Yates Street

Thrifty Foods 

Food:

The Mint -1414 Douglas Street

The Mint makes several dishes including mussels, prawns and curry entrees with coconut milk.

 

Thai Lemongrass – 3838 Cadboro Bay Road

You can’t go wrong with ordering any of their coconut curries; they’re amazing and full of flavour. They deliver too!

 

Tapas Bar – 620 Trounce Alley

The Tapas Bar serves a gluten and dairy free kale marinated in coconut milk, cayenne and lemon. They also serve a Gambas con Coco (prawns in coconut milk) that will knock your socks off.

 

Drinks:

Rebar – 50 Bastion Square

The Rebar makes a refreshing Coconut Cooler from coconut water and fresh juices such as pineapple, mango, cucumber, ginger, and lime.

 

Silk Road Tea – 1624 Government Street

Silk Road has created a super tasty beverage called the Chocolate Panda and Coconut Tea Slushie. Flavours of peppermint and chocolate mixed with coconut and served on ice. Yum! Find the recipe here.

 

Swans Brewpub – 506 Pandora Avenue

The rich and creamy Coconut Porter is usually sold as a seasonal beer, but this particular beer is back by popular demand and currently on tap.

Pumpkin pie and coconut cream

Want to make something with coconut at home? Try this autumn coconut pumpkin pie. It’s delicious!
Coconut Pumpkin Pie with Coconut Whipped Cream

Recipe here.

 

Crust

1 Cup flaked unsweetened organic coconut
1 Cup pecan pieces
1/2 Cup all purpose gluten-free (coconut) flour blend
1/2 Cup coconut sugar or organic light brown sugar
2 Teaspoons ground cinnamon
5 Tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance) or coconut butter

Place all of the dry ingredients into a food processor bowl and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Add in the vegan butter and pulse several times in short bursts until the crumbs are moist and begin to fall away from the sides of the bowl.
Dump the crumbs into 9″ pie plate and spread evenly in the bottom and up the sides using your fingers.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 7 minutes- to set. Set aside.

Filling

15 oz Can pumpkin puree
1 1/4 Cup full fat coconut milk
3 Eggs
3/4 Cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoons cinnamon
1 Teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, or to taste

Method

Beat or whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Taste, and add more spices to your liking as needed. Pour into the baked piecrust. Return to the oven and bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes (the edges will be brown and firm but the center should still be jiggly).
Cool before eating.

Coconut Whipped Cream

Recipe here

Ingredients

1 Can full fat coconut milk (refrigerated over night)

2-3 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar or coconut sugar

1 ½ Teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Method

Refrigerate a can of coconut overnight. Once solid, remove top of the can and scoop out the cream, just off the top. Reserve the watery coconut liquid for another use. Place all ingredients in a chilled mixing bowl and whip on high for a few minutes until thickened.

Written By:

Holly Brooke is a true B.C. gal. Having lived on the west coast most of her life, except for several years in the Kootenay's where she canoed and fished and lived in a tipi, she's very much at home outdoors and in the kitchen. ...

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