Saturday, May 02, 2009

Coconut in Cooking - Vegan Dishes Get the Yum Factor

I wish that I lived in the tropics. The closest that I've come to that was the 7 years that I spent living in Florida, which is semi-tropical, while going to college and graduate school. My backyard contained a number of tropical trees: mango , star fruit, orange (which turned out to be sour oranges much to my disgust) and papaya, but no coconut.Friends grew sapote (of which there are many varieties), kumquat, grapefruit, lemons and limes but still no coconut.

I am sure that coconut has sustained people in tropical climates for thousands of years, if not longer. There is great debate about whether coconut oil or coconut, in general, is helpful or harmful when it comes to fat intake. Rather than enter that fray, I'd just like to say that I love the way that coconut tastes and the flavor that it adds to vegan dishes, especially the Thai and Indian types.

The good news for coconut lovers, like me, is that there are now many different forms in which you can buy your coconut from coconut milk beverage and yogurt by So Delicious, coconut cream, coconut milk -- lite and regular and coconut water. The latter is best if you are following a low- or fat-free diet.

If you do use the regular or lite coconut milk, here is tip that I want to share, after my sister discovered an unusable can of leftover coconut milk in my Mom's refrigerator -- if you do not use all your coconut milk, freeze what's left in ice cube trays or small containers in amounts from 2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup, which are amounts that you might use in a recipe.

I rarely use an entire can unless I am making a dish that serves at least 8 people. My choice most of the time these days is coconut water which provides coconut flavor and no fat. The dishes are not as rich but that's fine with me -- I am usually going for flavor, and that's what I call the "yum factor."

If you want more great info on freezing food, visit Mark Bittman's column in the New York Times.


Georgia said...

Hi Jill,
Fresh, unsweetened coconut water is very common in Brazil, some Asian countries, and tropical islands. It contains high levels of minerals and potassium. It's great for any type of dehydration, from hangover to stomach upsets. It's better than any commercial isotonic beverage and has been used to replace IV solutions in Asia. See the site below for a complete list of its benefits:

The Veggie Queen said...


Thank you for that information on coconut water. I believe that anything that comes from something so hard to crack, must be good for us, in some way.

Still not sure about eating lots of coconut, in any form, in temperate climates.


Kathy said...

Thanks for the great idea of freezing left-over coconut milk. I also like the idea of cooking with coconut water - I like drinking it but hadn't thought about cooking with it. Lately I've been cooking my popcorn (fresh from Tierra Vegetables) in coconut oil - it gives it a nice flavor. I had been using olive oil, but figure it probably gets hotter than is good for the olive oil. I think coconut oil makes a good high temp alternative.