All the different coconut ingredients explained

September 11, 2014

Ever wondered what the difference is between coconut flour, coconut aminos, coconut butter, coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut sugar and coconut nectar?  

 

Wonder no more...

 

Coconuts are extremely dangerous.  If you lay under a coconut tree in a cyclone, one may fall off and conk you on the head.  And the relevance of what you just read?

Absolutely nothing.  It’s a little mind break so you can transition into the good stuff.  Learning about good food sources.  Or maybe we just call them foods, the “good” part is a given.  Any food that is not good for you, should not be called a food, it should be called trash.

Coconuts are used heavily in our cooking because they are amazingly versatile, while being extremely beneficial to human consumption, the processing is very simple (most can be done at home) and they are really cheap.

Apart from thousands of years of eastern medicinal claims, the coconut has been given a modern thumbs up because it is one of the only sources of medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s) on earth.

MCT’s are a fat.  A saturated fat (gosh!).  But unlike other fats, they are inert (don’t change composition in the body - think cholesterol = high blood pressure) and they don’t even go through the same metabolic pathway (they aren’t processed through the lymph system).  This means you feel fuller quicker, and you can slip into ketosis without even realising it, because your body has an abundant supply of easy to use fats.  Put simply, ketosis is when your body burns fat instead of carbs.   

Eating coconut flesh and it’s processed products like coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut cream (and concentrate), coconut flakes and coconut flour has been proven by much smarter people than us, to reduce body fat and generally make you a healthier person.  Cool, right?

So how does it all work?

Get a coconut, and smash it open.  The liquid inside is high in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals as well as electrolytes and sugar.  Just be careful when buying it as a “water substitute” – it still has sugar in it, so don’t be thinking you can chug it all day while you sit at your office desk.  Water is the best substitute for water.  But if you’re an endurance athlete, coconut water is better for you than chemical, sugary crap called Powerade or Gatorade.

Now that you’ve poured out the water (called coconut water), we’re left with the white flesh (calledcoconut meat).  If you dry this, you can grate it (makes coconut flakesalso called shredded coconut).  If you blend coconut meat for a long enough time, it turns into coconut flour.  If you blend coconut meat with water, then pass it through a sieve or nut bag, you get coconut milk.  (or you can just do it with the coconut water and the coconut meat while it is still wet.)   If you let coconut milk set in the fridge, you can skim the hard top layer off (called coconut cream or coconut butter).

 

You now can make coconut oil (virgin coconut oil) by pressing the flesh left in the nut bag with a screw press.  This is a time consuming process, so just buy coconut oil.  Please make sure it is virgin coconut oil, because any other coconut oil uses solvents like hexane to extract the oil.  Cold pressed and virgin are good words to look for on your food label.

Coconut nectar is not made from a coconut, it is actually made by draining the flower of a coconut palm.  It is a sugar, but it is low GI (diabetics use it a fair bit).  You can dry coconut nectar to make coconut sugar.

Finally, if you ferment the raw sap of a coconut tree, naturally aged and blended with sun dried sea salt, you get coconut aminos, which taste very similar to soy sauce, if not as salty.  You can buy coconut aminos from health food shops, just make sure they don’t sell you the soy ones…

 

For great tasting recipes featuring the star of the show, coconut, look at our cookbooks.