Saturday, December 13, 2014

Weekend Cooking: Coconut 24/7 by Pat Crocker

It seems that everywhere I look these days, I see coconut - coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil and even coconut flavored teas! In addition to it's delicious taste, coconut has a lot of health benefits and it is this feature which is contributing to its current surge in popularity. In Coconut 24/7, Pat Crocker, discusses the various benefits of coconut and then provides recipes featuring coconut from shakes and apps to entrees. In an age where recipes abound on Pinterest and elsewhere, I appreciate that this book added a lot of discussion about the health benefits of coconut and how to store and cook with it to maintain all those benefits.

 The book opens with a primer on the coconut and the various forms in which you can cook with it - the author even covers how to extract milk and water from a fresh coconut. Realistically, that is not going to happen in my life so I was glad she then moved on to discussing the coconut products you get off the shelf. I began using coconut milk in a mango protein smoothie this summer (tastes like the tropics!) so I was particularly interested in her discussion of coconut milk. In general, the author advocates limiting the processing of the coconut (hence the detail on how to extract milk from the raw coconut) so she recommends looking at coconut milk packages for unwanted ingredients like cane sugar, carrageenan and inulin. She also recommends selecting milk in the tetra packages rather than cans which can be tainted with BPA. Based on a review of the carton currently in my refrigerator, I am going to need to look a little harder for a less processed version. This was definitely eye-opening for me since I thought I was being "healthy" as I enjoyed my tropical smoothie.

 After the coconut primer, the book is separated into meal categories - breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizers and snacks, spice blends, sauces and dressings, beverages, and desserts. The final chapter is "spa recipes" and covers how to make your own body products, like hand cream, using coconut products. Probably a little ambitious for me so I focused on the recipes. I wanted to expand beyond my smoothies and the entrees chapter offered a lot that appealed to me. I especially liked this Coconut Curry Chicken - it reminded me of many of the great dishes I had while in Thailand:

Coconut Curry Chicken

2 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp sea salt
8 chicken thighs
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 tbsp Madras Curry Spice Blend
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk
1 banana, coarsely chopped
1 sweet potato, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf

1. In a flat bowl or pie plate, combine flour and salt, Dredge chicken thighs to coat. Reserve extra flour mixture

2. In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat.  Add chicken thighs and cook for 10 minutes or until browned well on all sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

3. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of oil in the pot. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and curry spice blend and cook stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until onions are soft. Return reserved chicken to the pot along with any reserved flour mixture. Add broth and milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and add banana, sweet potato and bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until potato is fork-tender and chicken is cooked through and reaches 160 degrees on a meat thermometer.

This dish is delicious! If you are interested in how to incorporate coconut into your diet in a healthy but delicious way, I recommend trying this cookbook.

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  1. It's so true that coconut is just everywhere now! Unfortunately, it makes me gag, but my husband loves it, so I do try to get some of all this ubiquitous coconut stuff for him! This recipe looks good, if one likes coconut! :--)

  2. I love coconut, and I did see some coconut milk in the market the other day, next to the Almond Breeze.

    Coconut ice cream is my fave right now, but that coconut curry chicken looks so yummy! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Didn't realize there was such a thing as coconut flour! I love coconut ice cream and sorbet and would like to learn more about health benefits. :) That curry sounds delicious.

  4. We love coconut and I didn't realize that there was coconut flour either. I just may have to look for this book

  5. I'm not a huge coconut fan, but I do love coconut milk and, like you, thought I was being healthy using it in sauces and soups rather than heavy cream! I need to start checking my labels...and stop buying it in the can! I'm going to try this recipe at some point...I'm always looking for new things to do with chicken, especially the thighs!

  6. I am not a coconut fan. I used to love ti as a child and got sick one time while eating it and that was that... I wonder if I could eat the chicken as it looks delicious!

  7. I'm not a fan of coconut so this probably isn't for me.

  8. I do use coconut milk quite a bit. I tried coconut water but it is pretty tasteless and I prefer plain water to it. Merry Christmas from Carole's chatter

  9. You have convinced me! I am going to try adding coconut to lots of things, I think.

  10. I have always loved coconut. I love that it has turned into a health food, since I'll eat it just because I love the taste. :)

  11. You sold me on this one. It's getting earmarked for a dish I make soon