July 1, 2012

"I've Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts...

 ...There They are All Standing In A Row...

"The coconut (cocos nucifera) is regarded as the jewel of the tropics. It is undoubtedly the most economically important palm (often called the tree of life) and is also one of the ten most important tree crops. The coconut contributes significantly to the economies of many countries and is of prime importance to the daily lives of millions of people."
 
Where did the "coconut" get its name or why is it called "coconut"?
The word "coconut" did not appear until after the Portuguese explorers in the 15th century came after Columbus. When these explorers found this fruit growing on Indian Ocean islands, they described the coconut shell as a coco, or "grinning face" of a monkey because of its 3 dark holes at its base which look like a pop-eyed merry face. From then on, it was referred to as the "coconut".
Although its name was recorded in Sanskrit in the early beginnings of history, the coconut was unknown to the western world until the 6th century, when it was imported into Egypt from the Indian Ocean--and still made little impression, though Marco Polo recognized it as "Pharoah's nut" when he ran across it in India on his travels. In the Middle Ages, coconuts were so rare and so cherished that their shells were polished and mounted in gold. By the 19th century, however, new transportation routes made them common in European markets--and throwing objects ("coconut shies") at local side shows.  (source:
CoconutRepublic.org)

"Coconuts are the fruit of the palm trees. And as we have bread and wine, oil and vinegar, so they get all these things from the said trees.. With two of these palm trees, a whole family of ten can sustain itself.the coconut trees last for a hundred years"
- from Antonio Pigafetta's journal, a nobleman from Venice who boarded one of Magellan's 5 ship

I have a special place in my heart for young Thai coconuts. Of all the things on this Earth to eat, young Thai coconuts are one of my absolute favorite things. Coconuts can be used to make up both the liquid and base portion of your green smoothie. Combining coconut with another base tropical fruit such as mango or banana will make a smoothie thicker and richer.

...Big Ones, Small Ones, Some As Big As Your Head...

Coconut Nutrition and Health Benefits

Young coconuts will provide you with minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folate and vitamin C. Coconut water is full of electrolytes and is considered nature’s sports drink due to it’s hydrating qualities. People in the tropics have relied on coconuts for medicinal uses in treating conditions such as diabetes, chronic fatigue, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and digestive disorders. Natural health experts say that coconuts help boost energy levels, supports the immune system and helps purify and rejuvenate the body. In fact, coconuts are used as an emergency IV in third-world countries (read more here).

How To Select Young Coconuts

The best places to find young coconuts are at Asian and Latino markets as well as health food stores. They can be hard to find at many mainstream grocery stores unless you live in a tropical area. I've recently noticed them at my neighborhood Loblaws Superstore and at Farm Boy too.

Try to select coconuts that are heavy for their size. Watch out for blue or purple mold on the outer, white husk. Avoid coconuts that have deep crevices, cracks or dried spots on the husk. Young coconuts should be kept in a cool place, preferably the refrigerator. Discard the coconut if the water is sour or has a bad taste to it. Fresh coconuts will have sterile water that is safe to drink as it is filtered in the coconut palm.

Mature coconuts (the brown, hairy kind) that you find readily available at most grocery stores are not suitable for making smoothies with. The meat is too hard and the coconut juice inside is not plentiful or as flavorful. Young coconuts have a much higher nutrient value than mature coconuts. They generally contain about 16 ounces of slightly sweet, coconut-flavored water that tastes amazing. Coconut water and meat blend very well in a smoothie.

Coconuts can vary in flavor and consistency depending on the region where they are grown, the age of the coconut at harvest, as well as the variety of coconut palm it came from. Some coconuts have lots of water and very thin, gel-like meat while others will have slightly less water and more crunchy, coconut meat. Some coconuts will have a sweeter taste than others. While they might all look the same from the outside, it is difficult to predict the quality of the coconut unless you know exactly how old it is and where it came from.

Young coconuts should be eaten right way since the water quickly looses nutritional value and begins to ferment when exposed to air after opening.

How To Open A Young Thai Coconut:
Here's a great video featuring Joanne Gero,one of the top Health & Nutrition Educators of our time!
...Give Them A Twist, A Flick Of The Wrist...

This is one of my favorite Coconut Smoothie Recipes, courtesy of Raw Yoga Mom:
1 1/2 cups Coconut Meat
1 cup Coconut Water
huge handful Cilantro
3 huge handfuls Spinach
1 tsp Vanilla Powder or Vanilla Bean
1 dropper Vanilla Stevia (omit or use other preferred sweetener)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
dash of Sea Salt

Homemade Coconut Oil Body Butter Recipe

The Secret to Moisturizing with Coconut Oil

I love using coconut oil as a moisturizer. It's pure, natural and inexpensive. I always have a jar of coconut oil in my cupboard so I decided to learn how to make it from scratch.
The result was a light and fluffy moisturizer that far exceeded my expectations. With a jar of this on hand, I doubt I will be tempted to buy expensive lotions ever again.

Want to try it out? Here's how:
Homemade Coconut Oil Body Butter Recipe
I love that this recipe only requires one ingredient. Anything else is optional. It also only takes a few minutes, and you'll have enough body butter to last for a month or two.
What you need:
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vitamin E oil (optional)
  • a few drops of your favorite essential oils for fragrance (optional)
What to do:
1. Put all ingredients into a mixing bowl. (You do not have to melt the coconut oil first.)
2. Mix on high speed with a wire whisk for 6-7 minutes or until whipped into a light, airy consistency.
3. Spoon the whipped coconut oil body butter into a glass jar and cover tightly. Store at room temperature, or in the refrigerator if your house is so warm it melts the oil.
Tip: An electric hand mixer will work, but I bet a KitchenAid stand mixer will do an even better job. A blender or food processor will also work.
Note: Your coconut oil should stay relatively soft, even at colder temperatures. I noticed mine beaded into a froth of tiny coconut oil pearls that melt right into my skin.
...That's What The Showman Said."

Have you made coconut oil body butter? Do you have your own body care recipes to share? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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