I am an official coconut mega-fan. I have coconut every day – that’s how much I love it!
My love for coconut started when I started with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) a few years ago, because I can digest it with no problems. I started using desiccated coconut in my food and then began to use coconut oil and coconut flour in my baking.
Fast forward a few years, and coconut has recently been hailed a superfood (something I was delighted about!). With that, many products have seen increased popularity. Coconut oil and coconut flour are now widely used and much more readily available.
So why is coconut so good for you?
Coconut has such a wide range of benefits for the body in all its forms. Coconut oil in particular is a good all-rounder for the body because it is rich in fatty acids and is a good source of energy as well as containing Lauric Acid, which has lots of different uses in the body but notably helps maintain healthy skin and hair. It also helps to look after your digestive tract as it has anti-microbial pro-biotic properties which keep stomach nasties and yeast at bay.
What coconut products can I try?
Coconut is really versatile – meaning there’s lots of different by-products. Here are a few I use below, what they are and how you can use them.
Coconut water is what you can hear sloshing around inside a coconut – but the type you drink comes from a young coconut which is softer and green – not the matured brown hairy variety. It’s rich in electrolytes (which aid hydration) and naturally sweet, yet fairly low in sugar. The best way to enjoy coconut water is straight out of a fresh young green coconut – but unfortunately we don’t have that luxury here in the UK! There are lots of different varieties of coconut water now, some with added fruit pulps which are very nice. I like Zico and Unoco – and Vita Coco do lovely ‘lemonade’ and ‘mango’ varieties.
I use coconut oil a lot in my baking and also have a spoonful every morning with my breakfast. It has a distinctive sweet coconut flavour – some people use it in savoury dishes but I only like it for sweets! Along with coconut water, coconut oil was arguably the first coconut product to receive renowned nutritional status. Tesco now sell cold-pressed, organic coconut oil for around £6 but Coconoil, Lucy Bee, Biona and Tiana are all good quality brands which can be found online.
Coconut butter is similar to coconut oil but is less greasy and has the same relationship to coconut oil as olive oil spread might have to olive oil. I use coconut butter in baking and for making raw chocolate – it has a less strong coconut flavour than the oil but is rich and creamy. I like Biona Coconut Bliss – but Tiana also do lots of different types of oils and butters some with added Omega 3.
Coconut flour is basically dried milled coconut meat which takes a powdery flour-like form. It’s higher in protein than its counterparts and is also rich in fibre as well as having some of the other antioxidant and nutritional benefits of coconut. It’s really versatile and great for baking; it has a sweet slightly coconutty taste so if I don’t want to make a coconut dish I usually mix it with almond or rice flour. You can get coconut flour from lots of online health stores or on eBay.
Coconut Palm Sugar
Coconut palm sugar or ‘palm sugar’ comes from the sap of flowers from the coconut palm tree. It looks like brown sugar and similarly has a rich caramel flavour which I just love and which makes it perfect for toffee and caramel dishes – but for that reason it’s not always suitable for lighter desserts. I use organic coconut sugar which can be sourced quite easily online from Biona or eBay.
The most familiar form of coconut in western diets until its emergence as a popular health food, the older generations of our families will be familiar with coconut from ice buns and coconut ice sweets! It is made from dried coconut meat which is then flaked either into tiny pieces or larger shavings. You can find unsweetened desiccated coconut in most supermarkets.
Fancy trying coconut for yourself? There’s plenty of coconut recipes in my book – take a look here.
Coconut is also one of my favourite beauty products!
Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!