Coconut has trended well for the last few years. It’s an odd one as it is rich in saturated fats, often considered the undesirable fats.
However, vegetarians need them as they don’t get these essential fats from meat. There is continuing debate about saturated fats, with those in favour placing more emphasis on the dangers of the additives in processed foods which often contain saturated fats.
No-one advises eating a lot of them, but avoiding them may also mean missing out on the health benefits.
For building up the undernourished and reducing oedema (swelling), coconut oil may help, and it can provide energy too.
It keeps well, and unprocessed coconut is rich in fibre.
Whatever products we consume, we must do so in moderation, and a good mantra for the new year is to increase variety in the diet, including different fats.
Another good new year’s resolution is to cut out readymade fat and sugar-laden foods.
Try cooking beans and a fried egg on toast as fast food, instead of a pizza; a chunky sandwich made from wholemeal or sourdough bread instead of buying one; swapping a salty takeaway for quick and easy homemade stir-fry with plenty of grated vegetables.
I spotted toasted coconut crisps in Tiger (40c) which have a little added sugar and some salt.
Sweet, crisp and delicious, they are far less expensive than potato crisps.
Sunflower and coconut oils amount to 15%, the rest comprising water, the emulsifier sunflower lecithin, alcohol, natural flavourings and thickener xanthan gum.
The benefit of this bottle with a spray top is the control we have over it.
Too often we slosh oils into a pan without thinking. Gluten-free and suitable for vegans, use for baking fish in the oven rather than deep frying.
Does not crisp up food well. Tastes quite nutty.
From a good range of coconut treats, this is one coconut product which was around long before becoming fashionable.
Shavings of raw coconut are refined further and packaged with sulphites for freshness.
Nuts can deteriorate easily, so we can forgive the sulphites used here, especially as we don’t eat a lot at a time.
Add to milk for a smoothie or serve on a scoop of icecream for an easy treat.
3. Dr Coy’s coconut flour 500g
This brand was one of the best value flours we could find, with some at almost double the price.
Even at this price, it is still double that of wheat flours.
A useful recipe on the carton for a wheat-free sponge cake is typical of how it can substitute wheat flour in many recipes. Good in pancakes.
Raw and cold pressed extra virgin 100% coconut oil is in a solid form, looking greasy. It is, however, quite light.
I experimented with half butter and half this and made the best apple sponge ever.
A useful substitute, it stores for longer than butter.
Use this extra virgin cold pressed version instead of butter in cakes for vegetarians and vegans who need the 94% saturated fats.
5. Ayam coconut milk 400ml
This can represents many available in supermarkets and Asian stores (we bought in Mr Bell’s English Market, Cork). This has no whitening or colouring so, comfortingly, is slightly grey.
I always dilute coconut milk as it’s rich, and add it at the end of cooking a curry or to flavour rice.
Substitute it for a third of water in the rice or a third of cow’s milk when mixing pancakes for extra richness and flavour.
6. Koko dairy-free drink 250ml
This pack of three has a blend of water, 8.4% coconut milk, grape juice concentrate, calcium phosphate, sea salt and added vitamins D2 and B12.
The emulsifier is sucrose ester, a blend of a form of sugar and fatty acids. A mild tasting drink which looks, but doesn’t taste, milky or creamy.
Tasters liked it as an occasional break from milk or fruit drinks, especially as it comes in small cartons, as well as large.
€8.99 Organic Shop
Nectar produced from 100% sap of the blossoms of the coconut tree before they grow their hard coconuts, this is a sugar that appears to appeal to those on the Paleo diet as it’s relatively unprocessed and lower on the glycaemic index than sugar and contains minerals and B vitamins.
However, it should be treated as a sugar and taken in moderation.
Drizzle lightly on porridge.
Sweet and delicious.
99% coconut water with added vitamin C, this has no fat but plenty of useful potassium. When chilled, tasters found it refreshing, but at room temperature, it was quite heavy.
They agreed it was full of flavour, though quite sweet from 1% added natural fruit sugar.
With the natural sugars from the coconut, sugars amount to 5% altogether.
Good for a smoothie or an alcoholfree cocktail with passion fruit and banana.
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