Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thai Baby Coconuts

A few summers ago, I attended a raw food expo in Ft. Bragg. At the end of one of the workshops, there was a question and answer segment. A woman raised her hand and asked, "What would you recommend eating to relieve stress?" The presenter just gave a blank look and didn't know what to answer, kind of shrugged his shoulders, and made some comment about finding a food that you like. I shot up my hand (one of those "I can't resist talking" moments like I had far too often in school) and said, "Baby coconut juice! I drink it in the late afternoon when stress hits -- it's wonderful! I call it my "happy juice!"

Immediately people in the class turned to me and started asking questions about it. I felt kind of bad for stealing the thunder from the instructor, but I was happy to share. Even as I left the class, a few people came up to me to find out how I open the coconut, what I do with the insides, etc. I felt like a whole class should be taught about the coconuts so more could know just how wonderful this food is. I've mentioned before that I'm not the greatest at repeating scientific facts on nutrients and all
that. But I will direct you with some links and hopefully will just encourage you to try it. It's so refreshing!

I've had many a day when my energy plummets, stress hits, or I feel like taking a nap. I'll remember the coconut, break one open, just drink 1/2 of it and I'm not kidding, my energy peaks and I feel so great! I start smiling all over again. It truly is my happy juice. I've read that it is the highest natural
source of electrolytes (which term I only know from Gatorade -- everyone thinks that's the best way to hydrate the body when sweating, hiking, or otherwise depleting, when it's full of artificial ingredients that aren't helpful to the body -- they'd be better off with a bottle of water). I've also read that its composition is comparable to plasma, which is the make-up of our bodies -- so maybe that's why it's so readily appreciated by the body. I don't know. I just know it's wonderfully refreshing.

What's more, it's great to have as a slush too. What I usually do is drink 1/2 of the juice that comes out, then I freeze the other half. If I want it later that day, I pull it out of the freezer at a slushy state. If I don't need it until the next day, I'll let it sit on the counter until it's more slushy. Have you ever had snow ice cream? (That's the photo btw, not the coconut juice slush). The way I used to eat snow ice cream was simple -- bring in the snow and add some maple syrup -- absolutely heavenly. And we didn't get snow often -- maybe once a year, so this was indeed a treat. But this coconut slush is just as good, if not better!

I learned about Thai baby coconuts from Alissa Cohen.
She has a dvd that is a food preparation demonstration (have to say that instead of cooking demonstration, since she never really "cooks" (a little raw foodist joke :)) She talks about the health benefits, then holds the coconut in one hand and hacks at it with a butcher knife (saying that she's done this many times) to show how to open it. Pretty crazy. My style isn't much better, but I don't hold it in my hand. I hold it onto the cutting board so it doesn't move, then try to saw off the top, then use the bottom of the sharp part of the butcher knife to chip away at a hole in the top.

Then I can pour out the coconut water (fits into a 12 oz. mug). I usually cover the top of the coconut at that point with cellophane and put it back into the fridge. My 15 year old daughter loves to scoop them out (it's not a hard center like a brown coconut, more gel-ish), so I let her do it later. They keep for at least a week once opened. Breaking it open is a little harder. I just saw a YouTube video by GreenSmoothieGirl who has her son take the coconut (with hole in top and juice already gone) out to her front sidewalk, where he throws it down at the cement a few times until it breaks open. She says it's the easiest way to do it. I haven't tried it yet, but I have a few sons who would surely be willing to do the same, I'm sure.

Here's a pic of a coconut my daughter scooped clean for me (she looooooves to do that for me -- asks every time). The flesh is in my food processor, ready to make some raw Rocky Road Ice Cream.

Sometimes I have a coconut I've forgotten about in the back of the fridge and can tell it's old by the color of the coconut flesh -- it turns a bit lavendar and the water doesn't taste quite the same, but it's still good and hasn't made me sick from drinking it. I usually throw the flesh away at that point though.

If your grocer doesn't carry the baby coconuts, just ask. I've been able to find them at most health food stores and even at a traditional grocer (WinCo Foods). They're either shrink-wrapped by Melissa's Sweet Young (with a carrot through the logo -- very cute!) or just loose on a produce shelf with other stuff. They're always priced per item (not per pound), so I sort through and find the biggest ones I can. Watch out for mold or not so fresh looking outsides. The white part is supposed to be stringy & sort of fuzzy, but still a bit firm. The health food stores seem to go through them faster, but WinCo's seem to get old at times.
Try one and let me know what you think. They have way more flavor that you'll ever expect. And get ready to smile!

1 comment:

  1. I have 5 baby coconuts I am getting ready to ferment tonite. I found your blog looking for info on how to open them. Ever had baby coconut milk kefir?