Cracking the Nut

Very few foods have the versatility of a coconut. The tender flesh makes a great milk, dessert topping, extract, or snack. It's oils extracted from the flesh have many health, cooking, and skin uses, and coconut water is full of electolytes. In fact, in WWII and the Vietnam war, coconut water was used in lieu of intravenous solutions. Coconuts are full of fiber, protien, potassium, iron, magnesium, and healthy fats.

Although lots of people enjoy eating coconut, very few partake in the fresh variety because extracting it's tender flesh can be quite a task. When shopping for a fresh coconut, simply ask your produce manager to crack the coconut for you and reserve the juice for you if you care to drink it or use it for cooking.

Coconut for weight loss? Of course! While coconut meat is extremely high in saturated fats and calories, it's actually a thermogenic food, meaning it may help increase metabolism and calorie burning by enhancing thermogenesis, a process in which the body burns calories to utilize the foods you have just eaten. The medium chain fatty acids found in coconut are responsible for the theromgenic process. In a study done by Dr. Koji Nagao and colleagues at the Laboratory of Nutrition Biochemistry, Department of Applied Biochemistry and Food Science, at Saga University in Saga, Japan, that was published in March 2010 in the journal.

Grate the flesh of the coconut and eat it as is or put it in a blender with purified water, and blend until thick, then strain though a nut milk bag or cheese cloth. Store milk in an airtight container in the fridge. The fat will automatically separate from the liquid over time; simply agitate to mix before each use. Fresh coconut milk can be stored for approximately two weeks.

Coconut Milk

Shave some fresh coconut over your favorite dessert, grate and dehydrate to use for recipes that call for shredded coconut, place it in a food processor with a bit of agave, scoop into balls, freeze them, then dip in melted dark chocolate and refrigerate for a quick treat. Go ahead and crack the nut! Use coconut oil for you skin, you hair, or for grilling your favorite vegetables. I love coconut milk for ice cream. If you purchased my book Modern Vegan Cuisine, you already have some of my favorite coconut milk ice cream recipes.

Strawberry Ice Cream

Be careful however, not to consume too much coconut meat, oil, and milk. While it has great health benefits in moderation, overconsumption of may lead to weight gain and a possible raising of your LDL(bad) cholesterol levels.

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