Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Resolve to go Coconuts for the New Year.

One of the most widely promised resolutions for the New Year is to become healthier.  It could come about through change of diet, more exercise, being proactive on a disease/illness, lifestyle change, or all of the above.  This resolution is also the most broken as a person seems to think there are just too many obstacles, or perhaps we set too high a goal and quit out of frustration.  Now, what if you could simply make one change that would equal several results?

Coconuts, first it was coconut water which, not only hydrated the body, but added enriched nutrients.  Then came oil, a high saturated fat which raised both good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol due to lauric acid.  However, a single tablespoon of virgin, unrefined coconut oil can replace large amounts of other oils or butter in cooking and baking.  Now we have flour, sugar, milk; coconut chips and low sugar coconut bars for snacking; all used accordingly can be more beneficial than harmful.  You also have to be careful about which coconut product is better than the next, for example, creamed coconut milk in the can is typically used for Thai cooking.  It contains more fat (14 grams) per serving than boxed coconut milk (4.5 grams); may contain thickeners and/or preservatives.  With oil, flour and sugar; unrefined means a better chance of a pure product with no chemical additives.

Now the big question, do coconut products make everything taste like coconut?  Surprisingly, the answer is slim to none; unsweetened coconut milk (I prefer the vanilla flavored) brings out the flavor more of any cereal it’s poured over.  Baked goods taste exactly as they would if using regular flour and sugar; while coconut chips are baked pieces of coconut, so yes, big time coconut flavor.  However, you get the full flavor of potato when potato chips are fried or baked in coconut oil.  Think of it this way, trial and error with the products you purchase will bring more enjoyment than trying to stick to a rigid diet, and then failing at it.

Still not convinced, than here’s a personal example of how beneficial cooking with coconut can be.  Pancakes, who doesn’t love pancakes?  Now I’ve mentioned before that I’m diabetic, so eating pancakes, even with sugar free syrup, can send my blood sugar sky rocketing.  However, with these coconut flour pancakes I’m giving you the recipe for, my number was in the normal range; I was in total shock.  Maybe it was a fluke, so I tried it again on another day; the same results!  The taste was amazing too; lightly sweet from the honey, barely a hint of coconut, crispy edges with fluffy interior and melt in the mouth goodness. 

So, for the New Year, make a resolution to go coconuts.  Ease it into your diet for a little goes a long way; make sure to have fun using the products.  Happy New Year!
Coconut Pancakes
(Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Crispy Edges, Fluffy Interior, Diabetic Friendly)
¼ cup coconut flour
½ tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. coconut oil, plus 2 Tbsp. for grill pan
1 Tbsp. honey
3 large eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk (do not use canned type)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

In a small bowl, mix together coconut flour, baking powder and salt; make sure to break up any lumps, set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together coconut oil and honey until smooth; don’t worry if a few lump oil remain, they will melt on the grill pan.  Whisk the eggs in one at a time; whisk in coconut milk and vanilla extract.  Use a rubber spatula to mix in dry ingredients from small bowl; scrape down the sides to make sure all ingredients are mixed in.  Do not overmix; batter will look slightly lumpy.


On medium-high heat, melt one tablespoon of coconut oil on grill pan; coconut oil has a high smoke point, so will melt and burn very quickly.  Be ready, with a small ice cream scoop, to ladle out three scoops (each scoop equals two tablespoons) of batter onto melted oil; gently press out batter to 4 inch diameter.  After two minutes, flip pancakes and cook additional 1-2 minutes on other side; check for desired browning.

Repeat above step with remaining batter.
Makes 6 – 4 inch pancakes; Serves 2.
Condiment Options: Fruit Jam or Maple Syrup.

Mary Cokenour


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