The coconut palm and its relatives have been in existence for millions of years, in fact all of the time that we have been evolving.
Primitive hominids undoubtedly used coconuts for food and the shells would have been employed as drinking vessels or receptacles for collecting shellfish/berries/nuts etc. Even the palm leaves would have been used in building shelters, wrapping foods for cooking and so on.
Today, the coconut itself yields even more “products”. The flesh as it is or grated and pressed to make coconut milk and cream. Oriental and Indian cookery often feature these to flavour and thicken sauces. The milk can be cultured into “yogurt”.
The oil that the coconut produces is highly saturated. It won’t spoil, it is not harmful to health and it is very stable – even at high temperatures. Coconut oil is also quite unique in its nutritional components. Lauric acid can increase the “good” cholesterol in the blood stream. This in addition to capric and caprylic acid provides a very effective prevention or treatment for harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites and yeasts (ie. Candida) whether they are on the skin or in the gut. A pot of organic coconut oil can be extraordinarily useful! Use it in stir-fries or curries or in smoothies and other recipes.
Make sure you keep some in the bathroom too – it makes a great face and body moisturiser, hair conditioner and a brilliant toothpaste when mixed with baking soda. “Oil pulling” is a traditional way to reduce harmful bacteria in the mouth. Take a teaspoon of the oil and when it is in your mouth it will melt. Then just swoosh it around your mouth and “pull” it through your teeth. Spit it out after a few minutes.
The water in the centre of a coconut is wonderfully refreshing any time but is also a great sports drink. It has minimal sugars but has lots of quickly absorbed electrolytes, which are lost through sweat during exercise. It would be a good supplement for those with stomach upsets, when other food cannot be taken.
Try using coconut flour in baking – it is very high in fibre and nutrients. It is important to remember that coconut flour can’t just be substituted for wheat flour in a recipe. Due to its high fibre content, it will absorb lots of moisture. For this reason, it is better to find recipes specifically for coconut flour – there are lots on the net. Coconut flour has no gluten, making it ideal for those who are gluten-sensitive. Bread can be made but not a yeasted bread – eggs and baking soda will give the rise.
Coconut palm sugar is derived from the sap of the coconut tree. It is a superior product to white sugar as it does keep a few of its nutrients during the processing – some of the B vitamins and the minerals zinc, iron, calcium and potassium.
Coconut products have nourished us for all of our time. Most are inexpensive – even if they are organic. Time to put this wonderful food back into our diet!