|coconut | photo: Robert Wetzlmayr|
Coconut is a great food item to have in your pantry. A source of phosphorus which is beneficial for strong teeth and bones as well as supporting kidney function, there are many different ways in which coconut can be added to the diet.
Let's start, though, by addressing the allergy issue. According to the FDA coconuts must be labeled as a tree nut. And there does appear to be a potential for cross-reaction for anyone who is allergic, or sensitive, to either walnuts or hazelnuts. This means that if you have a sensitivity to either walnuts or hazelnuts and consume coconut products, you may want to discuss this with your allergist or to try an elimination diet and see if you should not eat coconut.
Ways to use coconut include:
- Coconut meat - a tasty treat which can be eaten fresh or dried.
- Coconut flour - the dried ground meat can be used in baking and is especially popular for gluten free baking. It's also a good source of protein with 100 g of coconut flour containing just over 19 g of protein.
- Coconut water - sometimes called coconut juice, this is the liquid from the center of the coconut. It is a fairly balanced electrolyte fluid; far tastier, and certainly far healthier, than sports drinks.
- Coconut milk - made from the ground meat this is a tasty dairy substitute that many people enjoy.
- Coconut cream - the solid section of the coconut milk which rises to the top; this can be skimmed off and used the same as whipping cream.
- Coconut oil - made from the meat, this is a healthy source of medium chain fatty acids and can be used in baking and cooking. It even makes a great facial moisturizer.
Coconut flour, milk and water all substitute fairly well at a one-for-one ratio for their conventional counterparts. Coconut oil substitutes one-for-one although I have found that because it melts differently it sometimes gives a different texture to baked goods. We have added this versatile range of products to the pantry and are enjoying the tasty variety that they add to our diet. I'm sure you will too.