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

– 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.

Roasted Vegetables with Red Curry and Coconut Sauce

For some reason, I have recently been reminded of my age at every turn.  In epidemiology class, we were presented with statistics about birth problems related to women over 30 (I’m 27, unmarried, and just don’t see a pregnancy on the horizon…even though every little child I see sends me into “wannabe mommy” mode).  When filling out paperwork, I have to think for several seconds before remembering just what my age is.  And at my annual exam, my healthcare provider told me that I was really getting to the age where I need to be doing my monthly breast exams.  I’ve never been told that before!  I’m investing in more high-quality skincare potions and thinking about when I’ll be ready to take the leap and buy my own house (hint: not anytime soon).  The truth is, that I just thought that I’d have more things figured out by now.

On the bright side, I’m learning to love certain foods that my childhood self would have cringed at.  I now consider olives to be a treat and, just in the last few months, I’ve begun to reconsider the eggplant.  Once a completely unwelcome guest at my table, eggplants are showing up in more and more of my dishes.  It started with my ratatouille and continues with these thai-inspired vegetables.  Of course, the dish is completely malleable to your personal tastes.  If you don’t like eggplant, choose another vegetable you do like or need to clear out of the fridge!  If you’re on the fence about eggplant, give it a try…you may be able to coax out your inner eggplant love!

What foods have you learned to love since childhood?  

Roasted Vegetables with Red Curry and Coconut Sauce
makes 2 servings
adapted from Love and Lemons 

Sauce Ingredients
– 1 Tbsp red curry paste
– 1 Tbsp white miso paste
– 1 Tbsp honey
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1/4 cup coconut milk (the kind from the can)
– salt and pepper to taste

– 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
– 1 small eggplant, quartered and cut into 1/2-in pieces
– 1 bell pepper, sliced
– a few handfuls spinach, washed and dried

– cooked rice or quinoa to serve

Preheat oven to 400F.

Prepare the sauce.  Mix all sauce ingredients together except for coconut milk, set aside.  You will use some to cook the vegetable in and some will be reserved to complete the sauce.

In a large bowl, toss prepared onion, eggplant, and bell pepper with about 1/2 of the sauce.  Mix until vegetables are coated.  Spread vegetables on a baking sheet and bake for 10-20 minutes, stirring about halfway through, until they are soft and beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and pour into a large bowl.

Place the spinach in the same pan the vegetables were just removed from.  Put in the oven for 2-4 minutes, until wilted.  Add to the bowl with the other vegetables.

Complete the sauce by whisking the coconut milk into the reserved half of the miso-curry mixture.  Pour over the vegetables and stir well.  Serve hot over rice or quinoa.

* I submitted this post to this week’s Fresh Bites Friday, Fight Back Friday, Foodie Friday, and Wellness Weekend.