This year during summer, I had huge cravings for fresh coconut water. It’s so refreshing to drink it chilled and straight out of the coconut using a straw. I then scrape out the tender, young, creamy flesh with a spoon. Yum! You can get drinking coconuts at most mainstream super markets, fruit stores or Asian specialty grocers. I need a bit of help to get the coconut open; this includes a drill and a huge machete looking knife. If anyone knows of a less time consuming, messy and dangerous method, please send me a message!
Drinking coconut water is reported to assist in improving hydration, relieving constipation, replacing vital electrolytes, soothing an upset stomach, lowering cholesterol levels, aiding digestion, having a cooling effect which is welcomed during pregnancy and in humid climates.
A Thai friend told me that it’s tradition to drink coconut water during the last few weeks of a pregnancy as it assists in giving birth to a clean baby. A coconut even resembles a womb filled with amniotic fluid and it makes sense that the oils found in coconut may provide a natural lubrication to the babies skin repeling excess mucous and bodily fluid during birth. I am yet to confirm this theory through personal experience!
Coconut milk is creamier, richer and thicker than coconut water and is widely used in Asian cuisine such as curries and desserts. Coconut milk is also available in powdered form which is handy for emergencies when the fresh ingredient is not available. Dried coconut comes in the form of shredded, desiccated, flakes and flour.
One of my favourite Indian veggie dishes is long green beans sauteed with spices and shredded coconut. This is a great accompaniment to meat dishes and the beans can be swapped for other vegetables such as pumpkin, carrot or cabbage. I love to eat shredded, desiccated or flaked coconut on chocolate truffles, cakes and muesli because it adds another dimension of texture and flavour especially when it’s been toasted till golden brown.
When toasting dried coconut on the stove, make sure you don’t take your eyes off it! Once the natural oils in the coconut heat up, it can take just seconds to go from golden to black. As soon as the coconut starts to lightly brown, take the pan off the heat as it will continue to cook with the residual heat. Coconut oil is extracted from the kernel, which is also referred to as the coconut meat, and is another popular ingredient in Asian cuisine.
Coconut oil has amazing properties as a skincare product and when I was growing up, my Indian relatives taught me to brush coconut oil through my hair as a treatment and I still use it to this day. Coconut oil is known for its antibacterial properties and can help to relieve dandruff. I add coconut virgin oil to a warm bath and massage it into my skin leaving a divine tropical smell and a protective film that soaks in to reveal a deeply hydrated and glowing complexion.
This natural wonder is also widely used as an all purpose treatment for babies. Cold pressed coconut virgin oil can be used as a massage medium to assist in relaxation for babies and adults alike; to moisturise dry skin, nappy rash and cradle cap; and is even used as a key ingredient in baby food formulas.
Being so multi purpose and beneficial, it’s not hard to see why there were even songs written about coconuts. The song titled “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts” was composed by an English songwriter named Fred Heatherton in 1944 and was first recorded by Danny Kaye in 1950.
In a scene of the 1994 Disney animation The Lion King, Zazu (a hornbill) who is the trusted advisor to king Mufasa, starts singing “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts” while in captivation to entertain his short tempered enemy.
The hit song Coconut by Harry Nilsson released in 1971 has been used in various movies, tv shows and commercials.
Important note: Please consult your health care professional for advice during pregnancy and before using any products on babies.