Throwing off their reputation as “bad” foods, coconut-based ingredients are the new darlings of foodies everywhere. We trace their rise.
Text by Cherrie Yu, photos by Samantha Sin
Special thanks to Francfranc, Green Vitamin, Jax Coco and nood food
1. COCONUT OIL
This “miracle oil” is made from the dried meat or kernel of mature coconuts. It is stable at high heat and doesn’t downgrade to trans-fat during cooking, a quality that makes it suitable for stir-frying or sautéing.
2. COCONUT AMINO SAUCE
Made from freshly harvested coconut blossoms, coconut amino sauce is a great alternative to soy-based sauces when it comes to making marinades, soups or salad dressings. It contains 17 naturally occurring amino acids and an abundance of vitamins and minerals.
3. COCONUT WATER
Low in sugar and packed with nutrients, coconut water contains multiple minerals, B-complex vitamins, bioactive enzymes, electrolytes and cytokinins. Young coconuts have higher water content. Some coconut water companies have run into trouble for exaggerating the amount of rehydrating electrolytes their products contain.
4. COCONUT PALM SUGAR
Used as a natural sweetener in Asian countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia, coconut palm sugar is “tapped” from the blossoms of the coconut tree. It contains abundant inulin, a dietary fibre that supports gut health, and the same quantities of fructose and glucose as white sugar. It tastes similar to brown sugar.
5. COCONUT BUTTER
A combination of coconut oil and puréed raw coconut meat, coconut butter has similar nutritional properties as coconut oil. One spoonful of coconut butter contains two grams of fibre and small quantities of minerals such as potassium and iron. Common coconut butter spreads include cacao and vanilla flavours.
6. COCONUT FLAKES
A go-to snack and beloved cake garnish, these unsweetened, light and crunchy flakes are low in carbs and proteins but relatively high in fat and come in at 100 to 110 calories per 15 grams, so consume in moderation.
7. COCONUT YOGURT
Coconut yogurt contains the same live and active cultures as the dairy-based versions, but is suitable for people with lactose intolerance. To maximise nutrition benefits, add your favourite fruits and blend.
8. COCONUT NECTAR
Thick and rich, coconut nectar doesn’t taste at all like coconut but rather like maple syrup with a hint of oral sweetness. Use it like honey to sweeten hot drinks. Packed with vitamins, minerals and amino acids, coconut nectar has a low glycemic level (the lower, the less effect it has on blood sugar).
9. COCONUT MILK
The lactose intolerant will be happy to know that coconut milk is a suitable alternative to cow’s milk. However, owing to its high concentration of saturated fatty acids, recommended consumption is limited to once or twice a week. Coconut milk is popular in Southeast Asian curries.
10. COCONUT FLOUR
With no gluten or grains, coconut flour is popular with people who have digestive problems or gluten intolerance. Rich in fibre and protein, it is made from coconut milk. Coconut flour is slightly sweeter than wheat flour, providing a natural sweetness to baked goods.