Perfect for dishes both savory and sweet, coconut is as delicious as it is healthy. In Stephanie Pedersen’s new book Coconut (Sterling Publishing, 2015), learn how this nutritional powerhouse offers myriad health benefits and can be used in a number of tasty recipes. This excerpt, from chapter 2, “Coconut: The Everyday Powerhouse,” details the health benefits of coconut milk.
Making your own coconut milk can be economical and fun, especially if you’re looking for an activity to do with your kids that’s just a little bit different. And, if you’re wary of food or drinks from cans, as some cans are coated with an industrial chemical called bisphenol A (BPA), making your own coconut milk is an easy, healthful option.
What many people feel makes BPA harmful is this: It’s thought to be an endocrine disrupter, which means it interferes with the production, secretion and function of natural hormones in a way that is hazardous to your health, possibly leaving individuals susceptible to heart disease, asthma, liver-enzyme abnormalities, type 2 diabetes, reproductive disorders, erectile dysfunction and breast cancer, as well as reducing the efficacy of chemotherapy treatment.
There’s another reason why it’s best to stay away from commercially packaged coconut milk: Some brands contain thickeners, gums or chemical preservatives that your body would be better off without.
Homemade Coconut Milk Recipe
• 1 mature coconut
• Room temperature water, as needed
1. Find the “eyes” of the coconut. Identify the softest eye. Using a corkscrew, pierce the surface and drill into the eye. Once you’ve burrowed through the shell and reached the interior of the coconut, remove the corkscrew.
2. Pour any liquid from the mature coconut into a container. Set aside to use in a smoothie. (It’s not as fresh-tasting or as nutritious as coconut water from a green coconut, but it’s drinkable.)
3. For this next step, you’ll need a standard screwdriver and hammer. Both clean, please! Position the screwdriver over the top of the coconut and hit it with the hammer, in order to put a crack in the coconut. Pry open the crack to open the coconut completely into 2 or more sections.
4. Using a spoon, scrape out the white coconut meat. It will be firm. Collect it in a bowl.
5. Put a few chunks of coconut meat into a blender. Add water until the coconut is barely covered. Process on the highest power setting until the coconut meat is liquefied, then pour it into a container.
6. Working in batches, continue processing the coconut meat until all of it has been liquefied.
7. If you like, pour the blended coconut milk through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove any solids. (You can use the solids in baked goods, curries and smoothies.)
8. Store the coconut milk in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge. You can freeze any unused milk in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Serves 2 to 4, depending on the size of the coconut.
Find more recipes and information in The Amazing Health Benefits of Coconut Milk.
Reprinted with permission from Coconut: The Complete Guide to the World’s Most Versatile Superfood ©2015 by Stephanie Pedersen, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photograph by Bill Milne.