One small thing I have done to make my life healthier....
One small thing I have done to make my life healthier is to fall deeper and deeper in love with the coconut and all its derivatives. This surprises me somewhat as I remember honeymooning in South America 5 years ago with my husband guzzling fresh coconut water, the smell of which used to make me gag. Not terribly romantic. This feeling of nausea was only exacerbated a few years later when I had to make a quick dash to bathroom after smelling a friend’s coconut water kefir. Pungent was an understatement. Who would have thought that a few years on I would be writing about it in awe while sipping the very substance. Perhaps it is somewhat psychological too, in that every day the world is discovering more and more wondrous and nutritional benefits of the coconut, and that my addiction to it and its by-products, is growing in tandem.
First, nothing gets me out of bed quicker than a freshly opened coconut, to which I often add a teaspoon of chia seeds for added protein as well as energy, a tip I learnt from a marathon runner. Then at the end of the day, whether or not I have consumed alcohol (I don’t claim to be the healthiest person in this forum!) I finish with another glass of coconut water, the most naturally rehydrating drink on our planet. Not just for hangovers, it’s already replacing Lucozade and Pocari Sweat as the athlete’s drink of choice since loaded with electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium.
Moving onto the flesh, I love to mix the meat with a cacao nibs, granola and fresh strawberries for an anti-oxidant laden breakfast, and have just begun to ferment it with kefir to make dairy-free yoghurt. For a lunch dish, I sometimes cut the flesh into thin strips, resembling calamari, and mix them with cashews, steamed green beans and a dressing of chilli-infused olive oil with (you can guess…) coconut vinegar. The last is the latest addition to my kitchen’s growing coconut family.
Onto supper, stirfries are a quick and easy option for the family, but it is coconut oil that I now prefer to olive and sesame, as studies have revealed toxicity when the latter two oils are heated to high temperatures. Admittedly I would rather not fry everything in coconut oil as the flavours do not always marry well, but a couple of odourless varieties on the market now make this more palatable.
Finally for dessert, I am fairly against refined sugar given its detrimental impact on our immune system, ageing process and most notably for me, the late afternoon slump. In my previous banking days, for fear of narcolepsy, I dreaded a 4pm meeting or frankly anything after lunch. However, thanks to my mother’s early fascination with health foods and refusal to grocery shop anywhere but Holland & Barratt (UK chain of health food stores), she persuaded me to eliminate the white evil, which is now about the only food substance I do avoid. While coconut sugar is definitely not your saint in comparison, as it still contains around 75% sucrose, it does retain a small amount of the coconut’s nutrients and possesses a lower glycemic index than regular white sugar, so another derivative that I keep in the cupboard.
With the coconut water sales growing 23% in 2013 to $800 million, this is definitely a booming industry and for the right reasons too. And I have really only mentioned a handful of its many uses so would love to hear your favourite coconut recipes and uses too!