Is Coconut Really Good for You? Getting Creative in the Kitchen (Part 2)

Now that we understand why coconut is a healthful addition to your diet (see Part 1), let’s talk about how you can reap the benefits of this nutrient-dense food.  Coconut is so versatile in the kitchen!

Here are a few tips:

  • Quantity is important, as it’s also a calorie-dense food.  Just be mindful of your portions!
  • Pay attention to the quality of the coconut products you eat.  Look for organic products whenever possible.  Buy only unrefined, virgin coconut oil.  Avoid anything hydrogenated.
  • Like many other canned foods, the cans of many coconut milk products are often lined with bisphenol-A (BPA).  Native Forest is a brand that is BPA-free.
  • Try coconut butter.   Artisana makes a delicious product; the only ingredient is organic raw coconut, so you get the benefit of eating the whole food.  It is delightful melted into warm oatmeal along with a little maple syrup, mixed into smoothies, spread atop your favorite gluten-free pancakes or toast, or melted into steamed veggies, squash, or sweet potatoes.
  • Use coconut oil in place of vegetable oil in baked goods and for sautéing.
  • Coconut milk can replace cow’s milk in pretty much any recipe.  I love the taste of coconut milk in my butternut squash soup recipe.
  • Dried shredded coconut can be used as a topping or garnish for fresh fruit, hot cereal, soups, and steamed greens.
  • On the go, grab a Chocolate Coconut or Coconut Cashew Crisp Zing bar – yum!
  • Have you ever tried coconut flour?  It is a great gluten-free alternative for baked goods and lends a sweet and mild flavor.

Coconut is especially great at breakfast time – its healthy fats give you sustained energy for hours, and helps you avoid the mid-morning crash.  This Coconut-Avocado smoothie is high in fiber, and the potassium and other electrolytes from the coconut and avocado keep you hydrated (especially important after a morning workout!)  Feel free to add ground flaxseed, chia or switch up the frozen fruit to make it interesting.

How do you use coconut in your diet?  We’d love to hear your ideas.

Recipe:

Coconut Avocado Smoothie

1 cup coconut water

½ cup coconut milk

2 tablespoons lime juice (about half a lime)

1 teaspoon lime zest

½ medium avocado, ripe (or 1 small avocado)

½ cup frozen mango or banana

Blend all ingredients on high speed in a blender until smooth, and enjoy!

 

REFERENCES

Murray M, Pizzorno J, Pizzorno L. (2005) The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.

USDA National Nutrient Database. Accessed July 5, 2012 from the Agricultural Research Service USDA website: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/

Erin Hugus, MS, CN has a Master’s degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University. Erin is an expert in Diabetes care and is passionate about empowering people with realistic strategies for optimal health. She takes great pleasure in her time spent in the kitchen and loves cooking nourishing meals for her family.

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