I find myself googling “recipes for coconut milk” or typing “coconut milk” in the Pinterest search bar to see what new thing I can find to try. So far, I have loved every single thing I have every made using it, and it seems like the possibilities are endless.
It’s a great and convenient ingredient that’s available in many formats, from full-fat canned coconut milk to coconut milk beverages.
Yummy in My Tummy, Good for My Body
Not only is it great for every conceivable use in the kitchen, but coconut milk is even pretty healthy for your body as well. It has a ridiculous amount of nutrients that are so good for you.
For starters, it has a whopping 5 grams of fiber per cup, and that’s something I know the vast majority of people need more of in their diets.
This lactose-free dairy substitute is also high in vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6. Vitamins C and E both give your immune system a boost, and vitamin E is also really good for the health of your skin. B vitamins are all essential for providing energy.
Additionally, there are pretty high levels of some essential minerals: magnesium (helps to regulate the heart’s rhythm and nerve cells’ function), potassium (helps repair tissues in the heart, kidney, brains, and muscles), phosphorus (keeps your bones and teeth healthy and strong), and iron (necessary for red blood cells and carrying oxygen through the body).
Funny enough, even with all the healthful qualities, medical experts seem divided on this front. While they all agree that coconut milk has a lot of nutritional value, some feel that the fat content is too big a downside to recommend using it more than once or twice a week, or even less.
From what I have read, though, the high fat content can be mostly overlooked because it is composed of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), specifically lauric acid.
MCFAs aren’t broken down in the stomach but are sent straight to the liver where they are rapidly metabolized and used for energy by the body.
Because of the nature of how the body processes MCFAs, little to no fat ends up being stored by the body. For this reason, it is a very popular dairy substitute for people trying to lose weight.
Additionally, the fact that most of the fatty acids present are lauric acid is also a benefit. Lauric acid is converted to a compound called monolaurin when it is broken down by the body. Monolaurin is both anti-viral and anti-bacterial and fights off all sorts of disease-causing organisms.
There are only two slight drawbacks for using coconut milk regularly that I can find. First, if you have high cholesterol, this may not be the best choice for you. Coconut milk has been shown to raise good cholesterol levels, but it also may raise bad cholesterol levels as well. So, if you are trying to keep your cholesterol in check by diet alone, I wouldn’t recommend using it as much as I do, maybe once a week, if that.
Also, sadly, all the coconut milk in the cartons has nasty additives, like carrageenan (which has been shown to cause cancer in animals). The only other commercial alternative is to buy it in the can, but unfortunately, the vast majority of cans are still made using BPA (bisphenol A), which has been linked to reproductive disorders, heart disease, decreased brain function, etc.
So far, I have addressed this by transferring my milk to a container in the fridge as soon as I get it home to stop any BPA from further contaminating it. I have found a couple of brands on Amazon, Native Forest Organic and Natural Value, that use BPA-free cans.
Homemade Coconut Milk
You can always make your own coconut milk yourself, though. You can either buy fresh coconut and grate it or buy unsweetened flakes.
If you go the fresh route, take the flesh and liquid from one coconut and place that in a blender with 1 cup of water. Puree for about 5 minutes or so. Transfer the contents of the blender to cheesecloth and squeeze and squeeze and squeeze the liquid out into a storage container.
Once you see that the pulp in the cheesecloth is as dry as can be, you’ve probably squeezed it enough.
If you buy the coconut flakes, you need 4 cups of hot water to every two cups of flakes. Simply place them in a blender with the hot water and puree for a few minutes until you see it get thick and creamy.
Pour it through a fine mesh sieve to remove any larger pieces of pulp, then strain through cheesecloth to filter out any smaller pieces.
Whichever route you take, the resulting milk can be stored for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
A Few Recipes to Try
My Favorite Thai Coconut Soup
Special Pumpkin Smoothie
One of many ways to use pumpkin, this smoothie is something extra special and works great in the fall time to bring in a taste of autumn to your home.
Highly nutritious and tasty – I love this one.
Lemon Coconut Bread
These are just a few of my favorite recipes using coconut milk. I hope you’ll give at least one of them a try, and I’d love to hear from you with some recipes of your own. Like I said, I am always looking for new things to try!
About Ashley Martell
Ashley has enjoyed creative writing since she was six years old, when she wrote her first short story. She majored in English literature at the University of Montevallo. After years of professional work, she is now a stay-at-home mom of three, who uses her craft to write about her life and adventures in and out of the kitchen.