Cooking with coconut is a great way to enjoy the tropics all year round. Coconut tastes extremely decadent, and brings to mind sweet treats that should only be enjoyed occasionally. But the fitness and nutrition community has begun to go crazy for coconut. Why? It turns out that it’s great for your health and helps with weight loss, too!
The oil in coconut is one of the most abundant natural sources of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), the easiest type of fatty acids for our bodies to metabolise. These MCTs are metabolised very quickly as energy and don’t tend to get stored as body fat. MCTs have been shown in studies to increase metabolic rate by up to 48% for up to 24 hours! Coconut milk and coconut meat also include high amounts of these health-promoting MCT oils.
Anyone who loves Thai/Malay food knows that coconut isn’t just for baking. Coconut tastes incredible in soups, with meats and vegetables, and in our breakfasts. Here are 3 healthy recipes that incorporate coconut in creative and tasty ways:
1) Coconut Curry Shrimp with Coconut Rice
Ingredients for 2 :
2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 tablespoons coconut oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 onion, diced
2 cup green bell pepper, deseeded, diced
4 tomatoes, deseeded, diced
4 cardamom pods, crushed
2 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons hot sauce, to taste
4 cups seafood or chicken stock
4 cups coconut milk
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
For the Coconut Rice:
4 cups white rice
4 cups coconut milk
2 cup water
2 tsp salt
INSTRUCTIONS To make the Coconut Curry Shrimp:
In a large cast-iron pan or frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the coconut oil. Add the garlic, ginger, onion, bell peppers and tomato.
Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add cardamom pods, curry powder, black pepper and creole pepper sauce and stir well. Add shrimp and saute for 5 minutes. Remove shrimp and set aside.
Add stock and coconut milk to sautéed vegetables and reduce over medium heat for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Return shrimp to stock, add fresh cilantro and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Serve on a bed of freshly cooked coconut rice.
To make the Coconut Rice:
In a large saucepan over high heat, bring rice, coconut milk, water and salt to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is fully absorbed and rice is fully cooked.
2) Chicken Daikon Soup
Dried scallops (optional)
Coconut milk from 1 coconut
Par boil the chicken under low fire, then rinse well to clean. In a large pot, add in the chicken, daikon and scallops (if using), fill with 6 cups of water (depending on capacity of pot.)
Pressure Cooker: Cook under pressure for 20 minutes
Slow Cooker: Low 8 hours
Stovetop: Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover with lid, leaving a little gap for steam to escape and simmer for 2 hours (or more)
Add coconut milk and conitue simmering for 10 minutes
Season with salt – start with 1 teaspoon, stir and taste. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.
3) Thai Coconut Milk Soup
Ingredients for 2 :
2 stalks lemongrass
4 cloves garlic
4 inch piece of fresh ginger
Large handful of fresh cilantro
6 kaffir lime leaves
Milk from 3 coconuts
2 cup plus 2 tbsp good-quality chicken stock
2 red chilies
6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 bunch of green onions
4-6 tablespoons fish sauce
2-4 teaspoons coconut palm nectar / brown sugar
Heat a drizzle of oil in a large frying pan or wok on a medium heat.
Trim the lemongrass stalk and discard any tough outer leaves before finely chopping the white bit (discard the green bit as it can be quite bitter). Peel and finely chop the garlic and then peel the ginger and cut it into thin slivers. Tear the kaffir lime leaves in several places on the leaf (but keep the leaf intact.) Chop the stalks off the cilantro (in one go) and then finely slice them (keeping the cilantro leaves aside for later).
Carefully toss everything in the hot oil with the kaffir lime leaves and stir fry for a couple of minutes, being careful that nothing sticks and burns.
Next add the coconut milk and stock and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, halve the chili lengthwise and then finely slice it, leaving the seeds in if you like it quite fiery. Chop the chicken into bite-size pieces and add both ingredients to the now-simmering soup. Reduce the heat a little and leave it to bubble away for about 8 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
Finely slice the onions (both the green and the white bits), juice the limes and roughly chop half of the reserved cilantro leaves. Add these once the chicken is cooked and then leave to simmer for a final minute. Last, add enough fish sauce and sugar to taste.
Ladle into four serving bowls, scatter the remaining cilantro leaves over and serve.