It’s pretty easy to replace milk, there are plenty of non-dairy substitutes that taste well enough to drink. Soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk, even green tea is used as a substitute in baking. Replacing cream has been a different challenge. During the holidays, at the end of the year a soy based product cream even whips into whipped cream and I’ve made ice cream out of it with great success. But bad boy coconut, received a healthy green light a few years ago and I’m so thrilled that the market place has been flooded with coconut based products. I’m just coo coo for the stuff, it’s exotic, it’s great with fruit, all proteins, most vegetables, in grain, for sauté, for frying, for baking, in drinks, cold/hot, savory/sweet and it’s a super health food.
Here’s a few definitions that I found helped me decide what the varying products are best used for:
Coconut Milk in cartons, intended for drinking, has a ratio of about 1 part coconut to 4 parts water. Delicious as a drink on its own, it’s also great in cereals or in recipes for batters or baking where milk or water is called for. I’ve used this in place of cream in coffee too.
Coconut Milk, Cream of Coconut available in cans, is a thick, syrupy blend of coconut cream and is available with sugar or unsweetened (I always use the unsweetened, and that’s what my recipes are based on). These are made with a 1:1 ratio of coconut meat to water. This on is used in tropical drinks like piña coladas, so it can be found in the beverage aisle and in liquor stores. It’s also used in South East Asian cooking and soups and found in the Asian section of supermarkets. I have found the price varies on this product more than any other can in stores. I have found it for about $1 and up to $4 and change. Best price? Asian markets.
Coconut Milk is made by combining water and the white meat of the coconut, if left still (without shaking the can) the cream will separate from the liquid and the Coconut Cream has an even higher ratio of coconut meat to water. It’s much thicker than canned coconut milk, but can be used in the same recipes, some of which specify to use the heavier cream,both are typically found in the ethnic/Asian section of grocery stores and supermarkets.
Canned Lite Coconut Milk has been strained to reduce more fat, I like the fat though and never use the lite.
Coconut Water and Coconut Juice is the new super hero sports drink; it’s fat free, low in calories, and is full of electrolytes. It’s much better for you than the sports drinks offered by big soda companies that have names that might imply natural source of energy but are really sugar water. The big one that gets splashed over the winning players and coach at the end of the game is actually the same formula as served in the hospital with flavoring with a direct IV line into the veins.
Coconut milks are great for detoxing and losing weight (it balances cholesterol) and are considered to be very YIN in the Asian classification of balanced food groups.
Coconut milks have a very subtle sweetness to them, unless sweetened with sugar and bring out the sweetness of proteins in savory dishes. Chicken and all fish are elevated with the compliment of coconut milk, even the delicate flavor of shrimp shines through. It can take on heat with chilies and the addition of lime juice or lime leaves or lemon grass adds a nice citrus note. Ginger loses it’s bite when added to coconut milk and becomes a nice note in the flavor profile.
I am so in love with coconut milk ice cream maybe because it doesn’t require as much sweetener as a soy or rice milk ice cream. Yup, I’m CooCoo for Coconuts, I’d grow them myself but I’d be afraid of one hitting me on the head when it fell out of the tree ‘cause I ain’t been a tree climber for quite a while now, especially ones without branches…For a ton of recipes that contain coconut and no dairy (or gluten or sugar for that matter) like the chocolate pudding pictured below, go to http://www.good2eat4U.com
Chocolate Pudding with Coconut Milk and Avocado
Coconut oil replaces butter and shortening quite easily, depending on your needs, melt or use at room temperature (ie. for flaky baked goods like pastry) at a ratio of 1 part vegetable shortening to 3/4 part coconut oil. Since coconut oil is nearly pure fat, (butter contains water) you may need to add a little more liquid, go by the desired texture suggested in the recipe.
Whether you choose virgin coconut oil (has a strong coconut flavor and aroma), or the more subtle refined coconut oil, both can be used interchangeably. Coconut oil can be used to replace butter or shortening to grease pans as well as the shortening or butter in cake batters. It’s even great as a fat to temper dark chocolate and a splash coconut milk can make it a dairy-free milk chocolate.
Once the oil is heat above room temperature (76°F/24°C ) it turns from a semi-solid to a liquid, and can be heated and solidified numerous times without any degradation to the oil.
Coconut oil also has a very high smoke point compared to other cooking oils (meaning it doesn’t burn at a low temperature like olive oil does), making it a perfect choice for sautéing, baking, roasting, and even frying.
You can measure the oil as a solid or melt it first and then measure it. Both produce approximately the same volume. Although for most recipes you’ll want it in its liquid form so you can easily blend it in with other ingredients. The only exception is when the recipe calls for shortening to be cut into flour, where it should be measured and blended in its solid form.
Because coconut oil will start to harden below room temperature, make sure the other liquid ingredients you are mixing it with are at the same temperature. So cold coconut oil, cold eggs; room temperature coconut oil, room temperature eggs and milk, otherwise once you begin mixing, the oil will start to solidify and turn into little solid chunks that will be impossible to blend.
- Add a TABLESPOON of coconut oil to a fruit smoothie, it will keep you full longer and will make your skin B’utiful.
- Melt it and pour it over popcorn instead of butter, then add your favorite HERBLENDS sugar and salt free seasoning.
- Pan Frying – with its high smoke point, it can withstand high temperatures without burning the food or the coating.
- Toss in a teaspoon of coconut oil instead of butter to cooked pasta for a rich texture.
- Use coconut oil to start cooking Pineapple Fried Rice.
OH I almost forgot coconut yogurt! Much better than the other non-dairy varieties. Especially with fruit and in recipes that call for yogurt for baking.
There are so many uses for coconut products and we haven’t even touched on the coconut meat itself! High in fiber and flavor. But if you haven’t gotten on the coconut band wagon yet, now’s a great time to start. For a great selection of recipes that I’ve developed for coconut products go to http://www.good2eat4U.com Sometimes when you have a restricted diet you could feel left out, coconut is a very healthy replacement for dairy and eliminates any sense of being denied. And as I always like to say: “What we eat is better!” and coconut products really help prove that fact, that’s why I’ll always be CooCoo for Coconut.