Homemade Coconut Milk

It seems that in the last year or so, coconut has taken the country by storm.  Everywhere I look, someone is touting the health benefits of this wonder-food and creatively using it in their kitchens.  Coconut milk is now one of the most popular dairy alternatives on the market today.  Coconut cream, coconut oil, coconut butter, palm sugar, and coconut flour are now ubiquitous.  And I am completely on board.

Recently I began to wonder if there was a way to make a few of the coconut grocery staples in my own kitchen.  This coconut milk is the first of my experiments and it was a success!  It’s delicious, creamy, and versatile.  You can use it in smoothies, on cereal, or in baked goods.  On top of that, it’s a simple way to save money and packaging.  Stay tuned for my adventures making coconut flour out of the leftover pulp!

Homemade Coconut Milk
makes about 5 cups

Ingredients
– 2 cups dried unsweetened coconut flakes
– 6 cups water

Place coconut  flakes in a large bowl.  Boil 3 cups of water and pour over flakes.  Stir and allow to stand until mixture has reached room temperature.

Place coconut mixture in a high-speed blender.  Add 3 remaining cups of water and blend for 1-2 minutes, until liquid is white and only small (sand-sized) bits of the coconut flakes remain.  Use a nut milk bag (a strainer may also work but the coconut milk may be more gritty) to strain liquid out of remaining solids.

Store in a clean glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

* I added this post to this week’s Wellness Weekend, Fresh Bites FridayFull Plate Thursday, Pennywise Platter, and Simple Lives Thursday.

Coconut Bars (Grain Free)

Hi there!  I think it’s about time I posted a treat on here.  We’ve finally finished up the last of the holiday goodies that were lingering in our freezer and I’m ready to head into the brave new world of baking for 2012.  These coconut bars were just the thing to get me started.  They’re dense and rich with the perfect amount of sweetness, but the ingredients list is somewhat virtuous.  At least it’s virtuous is you’re like me and believe that coconut fat isn’t really fat…it’s a superfood.  Yes, I did eat 2 for breakfast yesterday.  And 2 more as a post-workout snack today.

They have the boyfriend’s stamp of approval, too.  Or at least I assume they do because I left the pan unattended with Jeremy and his friend for a few hours yesterday and when I got home, half of the bars were gone.

Please enjoy!  I’m off to get my clinical prep done before my earrrrrrly morning at the hospital tomorrow.

Coconut Bars
makes 16
adapted (just slightly) from Elana’s Pantry

Ingredients
– 3 eggs
– 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage (I realized later that the original recipe is referring to the thick coconut milk that you get in a can.  You can choose your own calorie adventure here.)
– 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
– 1/3 cup honey
– 1 Tbs vanilla extract
– 1/2 cup almond flour
– 2 Tbs coconut flour
– 1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
– 1/4 tsp sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, mix eggs, coconut milk, coconut oil, honey, and vanilla.  The mixture may want to separate, just do your best.

2. Add almond flour, coconut flour, shredded coconut, and salt.  Mix well.

3. Pour the batter into an 8×8 and bake for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool and serve.

* I added this post to this week’s Hearth and Soul Hop, Whole Foods Wednesdays, Real Food Wednesday, These Chicks CookedGluten-Free WednesdayTraditional TuesdayFat Tuesday, Superfood Sunday, and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Persimmon and Coconut Smoothie

Have I mentioned that I love smoothies?  Yes, I love smoothies.  But I sometimes find myself in a rut, especially as the weather gets colder and good seasonal fruit becomes harder to come by.  At this time of year, I’m usually using a lot of bananas, pumpkins, and fruits from the freezer for my daily shot of blended goodness.  During my most recent visit to the farmer’s market, though, and unusual fruit caught my eye.  It was a persimmon and I was immediately drawn to the beautiful toasty orange color.

Now, I had never actually eaten a persimmon and wasn’t really sure about what kind of taste to expect.  Having had one now, I think I would say that the flavor is most closely related to an apricot but less sweet.  The next thing I wanted to know was how I could incorporate it into a smoothie that would highlight its delicate favor.  Maybe some coconut and ginger?  Yes and yes.

Persimmon and Coconut Smoothie
serves 1

Ingredients
– 1/2 large banana or one small banana
– 1 ripe persimmon
– 3 TBS coconut milk (the more concentrated from-a-can kind, not the milk substitute)
– 1/4 cup greek yogurt
– generous pinch ginger
– extra water, if necessary to achieve desired consistency
– a few handfuls of spinach (optional)

Blend in the blender until smooth and enjoy!  Here’s what you’ll get it you’re shy about using greens in your smoothies.

And here it is if you like to sneak in the leafy greens like I do :)

* This recipe is included in this week’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, the Hearth and Soul Hop at Premeditated Leftovers, Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Gluten-Free Wednesday at Gluten-Free Homemaker, Healthy 2day Wednesdays at day2day joys, the Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Wednesday bloghop, and Simple Lives Thursdays at GNOWGGLINS.

Baked Delicata Squash (or, the weirdest lunch I ever made)

Well, it didn’t take long for school to get back into full swing.  I try not to look too far ahead at my calendar since doing so is likely to throw me into a panic.  I haven’t had a chance to cook a real meal in almost a week, but I’m trying to at least keep the kitchen stocked with quick, healthy food options…and sometimes even that doesn’t quite happen.  Like the other day when I realized that the only thing I really had to pack for lunch was a baked delicata squash.  An entire delicata squash.

It was actually delicious.  It’s just that I don’t think I would recommend making it the main and only course of your meal :)  If you haven’t had one of these before, I recommend that you make it your next side dish.  Delicata squash are ridiculously easy to make and have a lovely sweet flavor.  Best of all, their skin is so thin (you might say delicate) that you can eat it along with the flesh.  It’s a lazy person’s dream come true.  This, as well as most types of winter squash, pairs well with other sweet flavors.  Brown sugar is a favorite but you could definitely experiment with another sweetener of your choice.  For this recipe, I actually decided not to add any extra sugar and relied on the sweetness of the squash instead.  I found that this was plenty for me.

Baked Delicata Squash
serves 2

Ingredients
– 1 squash
– a little olive oil
– 1 Tbs coconut oil (or butter)
– a few dashes of cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 400F and lightly oil a baking sheet.  Using a sharp knife, cut off the ends of the squash and cut in half, lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds.

2. Place squash face-down on baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until squash is tender and easily pierced with a fork.

3. Remove from oven and spread coconut oil or butter evenly between the two halves.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  Serve warm.

I love the coconut oil in this, which is good because I have a LOT of coconut oil in my pantry at the moment.  I mean, I have a ridiculous amount for someone who does not have a restaurant of a family of, like, 12 to feed.  Why do I have so much coconut oil?  Because I love deals and when I ran out of my last jar of coconut oil I decided to find the most cost-effective (per ounce) replacement.  I ended up finding it on amazon.com.  The catch being, of course, that it was in bulk.  So here is what showed up on my doorstep a few days later.

[Headsmack]  I love deals too much for my own good.