Here are my coconut confessions! I have always been madly in love with the smell and taste of coconut. When I was young I loved eating pink and white coconut ice from Darrell Lea given to me by Dad who was always given a packet on Father’s Day. The smell of melted Copha filled our house when Mum was melting it on the stove to make Chocolate Crackles and White Christmas. Copha is a big hard block of white paper wrapped hydrogenated fat made from coconut oil. Hydrogenation is a really destructive refining process that made the coconut oil solid and destroyed all of its healthy benefits. Mum poured the melted Copha into cocoa, dried coconut and rice bubbles to make Chocolate Crackles and if you were very lucky you’d get to lick the chocolatey leftovers in the bowl. There were 4 kids born in 5 years in our house which meant lots of competition for that bowl!
The recipe was usually printed on the Copha and Kellogg’s Rice Bubbles packet. Every Australian and New Zealand kid grew up eating these and mothers would make them for school fetes and fundraising cake stalls. The earliest recipe found so far is from the Australian Womens Weekly in 1937. Birthday parties just weren’t complete without a big plate of chocolate crackles and if there were leftovers they would go in your lunchbox the next day.
These were usually made with 4 cups of rice bubbles 1 cup icing sugar 1 cup desiccated coconut 3 Tbsp cocoa 250g copha, chopped. Mix ingredients together, spoon into cupcake papers on a tray covered with greaseproof paper. Put in the fridge until set.
Christmas meant the same coconutty smells as Mum made White Christmas with melted copha, dried coconut, rice bubbles mixed fruit, icing sugar, powdered milk and vanilla. This slice was no bake too, perfect for hot Australian summers.
Hard brown hairy coconuts amazed and intrigued me. They were an exotic puzzle I had to find a way into then break bits off to gnaw away at the gorgeous hard coconut inside. There was no way that dried coconut brought home from the supermarket in plastic packets came close to that fresh taste.
I thought that I’d discover in every brown coconut some creamy coconut milk inside not knowing that coconut milk was actually made from the blended flesh.
I remember I would take it outside where there was a hard surface and smash away at it with a big hammer till it cracked then try to prise it open. I loved the way the hard flesh would come away from the shell with a knife revealing the deep brown wood underneath. I’d watch those Islander and Indian boys shimmying their way up to the top of a coconut palm and throw them down onto the sand… I used to imagine one growing in my backyard and being able to do exactly that!
I added desiccated coconut to everything- on top of cereal then the flakes from the health food shop mixed in with my homemade muesli. I heap tablespoons of dried coconut onto big bowls of ice cream, yoghurt then dairy free icecream.
One of my fave dishes has to be a rich yellow creamy coconut curry I first ate in Fiji when I was 9, sitting on the ground under palms with all the dishes spread out on banana leaves. Drinking fresh coconut juice from a market stall in Singapore in the 80s before seeing fresh coconuts here in the supermarket.
An old friend once bought a salad like nothing I had ever tasted before to a house warming party back in the 80s and yes I was back in that land of tropical wow. I think it’s called an Ambrosia salad originating in the US and the ingredients can vary. This one had a mixture of canned pineapple chunks, canned corn niblets, sour cream and dried coconut… some other versions have orange and marshmallows along with sugar so more desserty than a salad.
My friend wrote down the ingredients for me and I think I made that salad every week for the following month or so. I had completely forgotten about it till right now. Thinking right now of a dairy free version with a vegan sour cream!
Then green smoothies and later on raw food came along. I discovered a variety of amazing foods from far away and exotic places and the range of coconut foods has opened up even more. Coconut oil, (very different from the hydrogenated 60s Copha), coconut sugar which was so tasty I had to put it on my treat only list, litres of coconut water in the supermarket and best of all fresh young coconuts to take home and crack open for the water and jelly inside. New products I’ve also recently found are coconut nectar and coconut crunch. There’s been an amazing proliferation of coconut products recently as more information comes out on how healthy coconuts are. http://bit.ly/14pk0yA
I love coconut oil in my green smoothie every morning and add 2 tablespoons to about 2 litres. A tip to remember is don’t blend it with your frozen fruit as it may not blend smoothly. The oil also helps you absorb the Vitamin K from the greens plus has a heap of healthy benefits, lots of anti this and anti that and wow amazing info recently on reversing alzheimers! http://bit.ly/13OWo4e
The Banaban brand from Fiji is a great brand I use and buying this results in financial benefits for the growers and rehabilitation of their original homeland. The Banabans are an idigenous people from a small Pacific island called Banaba or Ocean Island in colonial times which is part of Kiribati. They are also known as the Forgotten People of the Pacific because of the environmental disaster resulting from phosphate mining by the British and they had to be relocated to Rabi Island in Fiji. They have been living in exile for the past 65 years.
If you buy fresh coconuts crack the top off and add the water and inside flesh to your smoothie for extra creaminess. Delicious with fresh mint, mango and pineapple! I also add coconut water to my smoothies when I have it and love eating the scooped out coconut flesh from a freshly opened coconut. Coconut noodles in a raw Pad Thai are delicious.
For more info on how great coconut oil is I really recommend this book by Bruce Fife- The Coconut Oil Miracle.
Another way of using coconut oil is use it on anything you would normally spread butter or margarine on and make delish raw balls with nuts, goji berries, dates, dried coconut and cacao.
I use organic coconut oil as a cleanser, makeup remover, moisturiser AND mixed with bicarb soda and clove oil to make toothpaste! Also great for scars, something I know a bit about after last year. I cut 2 nerves in a finger and had to have surgery with a general anaesthetic then a few months later I had a fight with a drill resulting in a gaping hole in my arm and more stitches. December brought 30 really painful stitches in my right temple having skin cancers removed. These were from radiotherapy for a brain tumour and the coconut oil did an amazing job healing my skin.
I recently discovered the Coconut Magic brand and love the texture of this so just use on my skin.
So last Sunday morning (and the original inspiration for this post) I listened in horror to the Australian ABC’s program Ockham’s Razor on Radio National to a report from a University of Queensland cardiologist on how unhealthy coconut oil is because it is saturated fat. Once again an expert has isolated 1 component of a natural food and decided well that’s bad so therefore the whole thing is bad and we must warn the public of all the dire consequences if this is to pass your lips!!!!
Thankfully a week later sanity has prevailed and this morning we had a complete turnaround of every unhealthy coconut oil claim by Dr Mike Foale Former Principal Research Scientist (CSIRO) Honorary Research Fellow School of Agriculture and Food University of Queensland. http://bit.ly/11oe8Av
In this morning’s program he talks about the history and how coconut oil became a bad fat. Yes Big Food wins again. Plus the original research comparing it to soybean oil used hydrogenated coconut oil not natural unrefined virgin and unheated. He talks about how great it is for diabetes 2, why it is a healthy fat and what the difference is between a plant fat compared to animal fat, why we have an obesity epidemic, good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, lauric acids, how anti viral coconut oil is and how beneficial it is for dementia.
But the misinformation continues. TV program A Current Affair had a negative item on coconut oil recently so Sarah Wilson ( author of I Quit Sugar and coconut lover) had this response. http://bit.ly/13OUbFT and here’s why she gets excited about coconut oil and what is so great about it. http://bit.ly/13OUWig
The Dieticians Association of Australia and The Australian Heart Foundation still have coconut oil in their bad books putting it on the same list as sausages, burgers,salami, pastry, fatty or fried take-away foods, packaged cakes and biscuits… http://bit.ly/11oe1ER
More on the fascinating history of the Oils War – http://bit.ly/11odYZL
So get some coconut into your life and get completely coconutty too. I didn’t even get to the coconut oil sun baking craze we all went through in high school and my recent fascination with Ayurvedic oil pulling!