How to Enjoy Coconut and Its Healthy Properties This Summer Season

Another of nature’s natural gifts, Coconut is a healthy choice for the upcoming summer months and is versatile, easy to prepare, and available at most grocery stores and food venues. Coconut is usually associated with tropical climates, and is often a great flavor and enhancer for tropical drinks, smoothies, and even dinner dishes. But coconut has multiple benefits in its pure form; it is a natural detoxifier, helps with digestion, and removes impurities as it cools down your system.

Hot and humid countries naturally delight in coconut-based foods. You’ll find them drinking coconut milk throughout the day, eating it as a snack, and adding the juice and pulp to various lunch or dinner entrees. There are many ways to serve coconut to appreciate its natural sweetness. Here are some interesting coconut facts:

  • Coconut is a natural stress-buster
  • Coconut helps increase digestion, and can be combined with cinnamon and spices to enhance its effects
  • Coconut improves the health of your hair; using coconut oil is a well-known Southern Indian tradition, and helps give the hair strength, shine, and luster
  • Coconut has a calming effect on the stomach, and can help with upset stomachs, anxiety, or aggravation
  • Coconut can be used topically to reduce heat burns, scars, and promote healing
  • Coconut may be good for burning fat, as it is said to be a metabolism-enhancer
  • Coconut can improve your skin; it is often used as a base in many cosmetic products, and can be made into a paste after crushing, and then applied as a mask
  • Coconut is a natural body detoxifier

When selecting coconut, you may not have to take the time to cut the traditional fruit. Today, coconut is available at most organic, healthfood, and grocery sores in the form of grated coconut, or coconut chips. Do make sure that these are unsweetened, as they will be as pure as possible. Still, if you are up to the challenge of a true coconut experience, the best ‘real’ coconuts are found at oriental/asian grocery stores. These are imported from regions where they are used day to day, and will often be the best selections. You can enjoy the milk from coconut as a refreshing drink, by simply slicing off the top of the coconut and inserting a straw. Coconut must be used the same day, so share if necessary!

The task of preparing coconut pulp is a little more tedious, but can be a fun summertime challenge and activity. You will need to cut off the skin first, then grate the flesh of the coconut. Add hot water and strain; mix, then strain again. Do this until most of the juice is removed, and you can then use the coconut ‘meat’ for cooking, adding to drinks or desserts with sugar, or enjoying alone. The juice/milk remaining can be used as fresh coconut milk. Remember that coconut is a cooling food, and can be used as a detoxifying agent in a variety of curries, soups, and desserts.

Coconut Recipes

Coconut-Pineapple Smoothie

A great summertime cooler to enjoy the benefits of coconut; this recipe uses homemade coconut, but you can substitute one can of coconut milk if you desire and reduce the amount of juice/ice for consistency

Ã?½ cup coconut ‘meat’
�½ cup pineapple (canned or fresh)
�½ cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup pineapple juice
�½ cup ice

Blend all ingredients at medium speed until smooth; serve with a wedge of fresh pineapple

Coconut Vegetable Curry

This colorful and delicious curry uses both coconut milk and pulp to enhance the array of spices and natural flavors. Use your favorite vegetables, or substitute pieces of cooked/grilled chicken for a non-vegetaraian variation.

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion
1 Green chili, chopped
1 Garlic clove
1 ts Grated ginger
1/2 ts Turmeric
1/2 ts Ground cardamom
1/2 ts Ground cinnamon
1 c Coconut milk
1 Strips of lemon rind
1/2 Green pepper, chopped
1/2 Red pepper, chopped
�½ yellow pepper, chopped
1/4 head of Cauliflower
1 1/2 Zucchini
2 small Yellow squash
2 large potatoes
1/4 c Coconut pulp

Heat the olive oil in large, heavy saucepan. Add the onion, chopped chili, garlic an dginger. Stir until the onions become translucent, and then add the cardamom, turmeric, and cinnamon. Leave on medium for 2-3 minutes.

Add the coconut milk, and lemon rind. Simmer the mixture for 8-10 minues, and stir gently. Add the vegetables, and increase the heat to medium to cook thoroughly. When vegetables are tender add the coconut cream and simmer for 5 more minutes.
The sauce will thicken slightly as the dish cools, and can be served with brown rice, flatbread, or with couscous.

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