Coco for Coconuts

Coconut milk makes me feel like a happy, nourished child again. When I look back on every dish I have eaten that contained coconut milk — Thai curry, pina colada, rice pudding, to name a few — I can’t help but think sweet, fluffy thoughts. Sort of like eating clouds.

Perhaps the best quality of coconut milk is its versatility in making all types of dishes, from creamy desserts to baked dinners. Its smooth, silky texture and rich body makes it an excellent substitute for all things dairy — use coconut milk in place of creamer, half and half, milk, or condensed milk, especially in recipes that utilize dairy as a creamy, thickening agent. Simply replace equal parts coconut milk for the dairy in your chosen recipe.

Even for those who do consume dairy, I recommend trying out coconut milk in some of your traditional dishes. It takes food up a notch on the luxurious scale and adds just a hint of natural sweetness. Both unsweetened and sweetened coconut milk are available at the store — I opt for the unsweetened so I can control how sweet the dish comes out by adding my own sweetener to the recipe.

Not only does coconut milk have amazing culinary offerings, it also has potential nutritional offerings. The fats in coconuts are speculated to have some pretty powerful health properties. First of all, the type of fat found in coconut is called medium chain triglyceride, which is thought to boost metabolism and digestion. Also, there are high amounts of lauric acid in coconuts, which is actually present in mother’s breast milk. It is used by growing babies to support a strong immune system by warding off viral and fungal infections. Pretty fascinating!

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