At the time I could only buy it in heath food shops, but now my local supermarket stocks it so I drink it almost every day. It’s full of naturally occurring electrolytes which help to keep your body, rehydrated, vibrant and healthy. I always drink it chilled, and find it beats a sugar craving too! Since then I've been using lots of other coconut products, including coconut oil which I use every day in some shape or form...
1. Coconut milk
Using coconut milk is a great way to add a creamy delicious flavour to curries and soups. I use Biona Organic coconut milk which you can buy in supermarkets, health food shops, or online from www.nourish.ie. Most other brands contain E-numbers and additives.
2. Coconut cream
I use coconut cream when making certain types of curries. You can buy it in any supermarket. It comes in a pack in a solid block, but when added to the sauce it melts in as it heats.
3. Coconut flour
I haven't used coconut flour yet. I’m sure there’ll be a blog post about it when I do! In the meantime, here’s what I found out about coconut flour:
Coconut flour is a soft flour made from dried, ground, coconut meat. It can offer a gluten-free and protein-rich alternative to traditional grain-based flours. After it’s been ground to a soft, fine powder it’s then suitable for baking. It’s rich in protein, fiber and fat which makes it exceptionally filling. It’s also a good source of lauric acid, a saturated fat thought to support the immune system and the thyroid. Like most healthy fats, lauric acid also promotes good skin health. Coconut flour is an exceptionally good source of manganese which helps you to better utilize many nutrients including choline and biotin (found in eggs), vitamin C and thiamin. Manganese also supports bone health, nervous system function, thyroid health and helps to maintain optimal blood sugar levels.
Information source: www.nourishedkitchen.com
4. Coconut meat
I grate and freeze coconut meat to add to soups, curries, and when baking. You can read about how to open a coconut and prepare the meat for grating, from my last post, here.
5. Coconut oil
I use coconut oil for cooking, and as a beauty product. Over the last two weeks I’ve also used it for oil pulling - an ancient dental and cleansing technique that involves swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil around your mouth on an empty stomach for around 20 minutes.
Coconut oil for cooking:
I use Cocowel organic extra virgin coconut oil which is sold in the same section as other cooking oils in the supermarket, and has a white, thick, texture, similar to lard.
Coconut oil is now known to be one of the healthiest oils you can use when cooking. You can use it to replace any cooking oil, however, it’s not tasteless like some other cooking oils.
It has lots of health benefits including:
- It can help you to burn more fat.
- The lauric acid that coconuts contain can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi.
- It’s one of the richest sources of saturated fat - New data is showing that saturated fat is harmless (I know, I know, next year it probably will be!!). But coconut oil doesn’t contain your average run-of-the-mill saturated fats that you would find in cheese or steak. They contain Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), these are metabolised differently. Which means they go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are used as a quick source energy.
Coconut oil as a beauty product:
I use Ovelle coconut oil which you can buy in pharmacies.
I must admit it did take me a little while to try coconut oil as a moisturiser. It felt a little strange rubbing the same thing on my face that I use to fry an egg! However, I eventually decided to give it a go and I haven’t looked back. It took me a few goes to figure out the best way to use coconut oil on my skin. Coconut oil, well, it is what it is. There isn’t one type for for oily skin or one type for dry skin so by trial and error I just figured out the best moisturising routine for me. Using it every day was a little too oily so I switched to slathering it on 2 - 3 times a week before bed and I’m already seeing a big difference. I’ve heard Gwyneth Paltrow uses it and whether you’re a fan or not, you’d have to agree, she does have an amazing complexion! I’ve also used coconut oil as a moisturiser on my youngest son from the time he was baby. It’s great for cradle cap and dry skin, and because it’s all natural it’s safe to use from birth.
Coconut oil for oil pulling:
Oil pulling involves swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil around your mouth on an empty stomach for 20 minutes. It draws out toxins in your body, and improves dental health. For the last two weeks I’ve been doing coconut oil pulling. Here’s how I got on!
I start by placing a tablespoon of coconut oil in my mouth first thing in the morning, and letting it melt. The first day it was a whole new experience for me and not pleasant at all! The coconut oil was cold, and hard, and oily, and a tablespoon is actually a lot. It also takes a couple of minutes to melt down. Once it turned to liquid I didn’t mind it at all. It’s just like swirling a tasteless mouth wash around your mouth, and for some reason it doesn’t even feel oily once it’s turned to a liquid. Also, the coconut oil doesn’t taste of anything when you’re swishing it around, but strangely as soon as you get rid of it you’re left with a suncreamy coconut taste for a couple of minutes! After you get rid of the oil (always in the bin as it will clog the sink!) rinse out your mouth, and then brush your teeth.
- This is a proven inexpensive natural way of whitening teeth and improving oral health.
- The timing is supposed to be key, no more that 20 minutes, no less. It’s long enough to break through plaque but not long enough that the body starts re-absorbing toxins and bacteria.
- Oil pulling can also improve the condition of skin by drawing out toxins, it can help with arthritis, asthma, headaches, hormone imbalances, infections, liver problems and more.
- Well, I suppose I’ll stick with it then!
Some other great uses for coconut oil:Here’s what I found out while exploring the web.
Eye cream – apply under the eyes to reduce puffiness, bags, and wrinkles. Use on the lids in the evening.
Preshave – coconut oil will prep skin for the pending damage caused by shaving.
Aftershave – coconut oil will help heal your skin after shaving without clogging pores.
Deodorant – coconut oil alone can be used as a deodorant, but is even more effective in combination with cornflour and baking soda.
Hair conditioner/deep treatment - use as a leave in hair conditioner by applying a teaspoon of coconut oil to your ends and then running your fingers through your hair to distribute the rest. For a deeper treatment, rub in a tablespoon of coconut oil onto your dry scalp and gently work through to the ends. Put a shower cap on to prevent transfer onto pillow cases and bed clothes and leave on overnight.
Hair gel/serum – rub a little between your palms and either scrunch into hair (for curly hair) or finger comb in through from scalp to ends (for wavy/straight hair).
Toothpaste – mix coconut oil and baking soda and dab a little of the mix on your toothbrush.
Make up remover – use a cotton pad and a dab of coconut oil. Apparently it’s amazing at how well this works.
Chapstick – just rub a little into lips and it not only acts as a softening agent but it also has an SPF of about 4 so you get a little protection too.
Swimmers ear – mix garlic oil and coconut oil and put a few drops in affected ear for about 10 minutes. Do this 2-3 times a day and it usually works within one or two days.
Skin problems – coconut oil relieves skin problems such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema.
Stress relief - relieve mental fatigue by applying coconut oil to the head in a circular, massaging motion.The natural aroma of coconuts is extremely soothing thus helping to lower your stress level.
Digestion - the saturated fats in coconut oil have anti-bacterial properties that help control, parasites, and fungi that cause indigestion and other digestion related problems such asirritable bowel syndrome. The fat in coconut oil also aids in the absorption ofvitamins, minerals and amino acids, making you healthier all around.
For breastfeeding moms - consuming 3 ½ tablespoons of coconut oil daily will enrich your milk supply.
Fitness - coconut oil hasbeen proven to stimulate your metabolism, improve thyroid function, andescalate energy levels, all of which help decrease your unwanted fat, whileincreasing muscle.
Replacement forbutter or lard in its solid form – greasing pans, pastry crusts, spreading on bread etc.
Replacement for variousoils in liquid form – baking, cooking, sautéing, etc.
Insect repellent – mix
coconut oil with peppermint oil extract and rub it all over exposed skin.
Insect bites – when applied
directly to an insect bite, coconut oil can stop the itching and burning sensation
as well as hasten the healing process.
Healing - when applied on
scrapes and cuts, coconut oil forms a thin, chemical layer which protects the
wound from outside dust, bacteria and virus. Coconut oil speeds up the healing
process of bruises by repairing damaged tissues.
Body scrub – mix coconut oil
and sugar together and rub all over. Rinse off and your skin will be super
soft. You can also add in essential oils like lavender.
Nutritional supplement - melt and add to smoothies.
So, it seems you can do just about anything with the humble coconut!
Finally, just to note:
- Coconut oil contains 87% saturated fat, which means that while its main saturated fat —lauric acid—does raise beneficial HDL cholesterol, it can also raise harmful LDL cholesterol, which is known to increase the risk of heart disease. Having said that, it is one of the healthiest oils you can use in cooking.
- Coconut milk contains 445 calories and 48 grams of fat (43 grams saturated) per cup! However, you can substitute ‘light’ coconut milk for traditional coconut milk to trim roughly two-thirds the fat and calories. I never use 'low fat’ anything, so the coconut milk I used in the Thai red curry recipe is full fat. However, adding 'light’ coconut milk in this recipe won’t change the flavour.