Coconut’s characteristic smell and flavour are like a ray of sunshine in my day. Just thinking about this exotic fruit, I can picture myself on the beach, my feet immersed in turquoise water and my skin being warmed by the hot southern sun. Whether it’s fresh, baked in macaroons or in a chicken sautée, coconut adds an exquisite taste to sweet or savoury dishes. I never get tired of it. But what about its nutritional content?
First, you should know that all coconut products are not equal and do not have the same nutritional value. Coconut pulp or meat, the white part inside the fruit, is high in dietary fibre and also contains nutrients such as potassium, iron and magnesium. High in fat and calories, it should be consumed in moderation. As it has a pronounced flavour, a small amount is enough to give your dish a mild taste of the tropics.
Coconut milk is made from the meat of the coconut, which is crushed in boiling water. It usually comes canned and is easily added to exotic recipes. Despite its name, coconut milk is not a substitute for cow’s milk because coconut milk is richer and contains very little calcium.
Coconut water or juice is the liquid found inside coconuts that can be consumed when the coconut is opened. Coconut water is low in fat and low in calories. It can be used to prepare “sunny” beverages, and it provides a few nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and calcium. A glass of unsweetened coconut water is a good replacement for soft drinks and other sweetened beverages.
Did you know that Indonesians say there are as many uses for coconut as there are days in a year? If, like me, you are not yet ready to start weaving your own mats out of coconut leaves, I suggest you learn to use coconut occasionally in your recipes, partly for the nutrients it contains, but mainly for its exquisite taste, that will take your thoughts too to the warm southern sun.
Enjoy your culinary travels!