Because, really, I do. And with projected temperatures in the 70s this week, I’m feeling downright tropical.
It seems that lately I’ve been spending a lot of time reading blogs and not blogging much on my own. The horrors! One very valid reason is that I’m now working two jobs, the second (and part-time) one as a prep chef at a raw restaurant, so there will probably be a even more raw-inspired food coming your way than the warmer months normally warrant in my house. I love this new job so far, and it couldn’t have been an easier job to start; it was like walking into my own kitchen, except with many many more Vita-Mix containers and a whole dehydrating room and a commercial juicer and food processor and a walk-in cooler full of gorgeous produce and nuts and seeds. They handed me some recipes and I went to town! I even got to create some raw cookies on my first day – I whipped up some pistachio-date cookies flavored with orange zest and cardamom. Yum!
But even before this good news, as any longtime readers of my blog will know, I love me some coconuts. In any form. Whether it’s coconut milk in Coconut Red Bean Quinoa or shredded coconut in Cardamom-Orange-Coconut Flaxjacks or a little bit of everything in the GF Coconut Lime Cupcakes with Avocado Lime Frosting, it’s probably one of my favorite ingredients and one reason why I could never do a low-fat diet (the other major reason being avocado). But most of all, I’ve developed a deep love for Thai young coconuts. I even bought myself an inexpensive coconut-cleaving knife (although I may need to upgrade to something heavier and a bit sharper soon), and last week saw me dashing to three different Asian markets to find fresh ones and avoid paying the more-than-double co-op price. I drink the cool water on its own and I’ll eat the “meat” straight from the coconut, but I also like adding it to puddings and making smoothies and soups.
Opening a coconut can be an intimidating experience if you’ve never done it before. Personally, I don’t think you really need a special knife unless you plan on opening lots of them – your largest and heaviest knife will do. You do need some good aim, though, because, without some practice, you don’t want your other hand anywhere near the coconut when you bring your knife down into it! There are many different methods illustrated in videos and pictures online, but I’ll share my current at-home method (and you can check out the accompanying pictures) for opening and scraping a young coconut:
Hooray! You now have fresh and delicious coconut meat and water. And if you haven’t got any recipes tucked away that you’ve wanted to try once you give young coconuts a go, I’m giving you two! Both work best in a blender, but will still be delicious even if they’re not quite as smooth as a result of a less-powerful blender or food processor. I’ve tried to offer substitutions where applicable, since I know many people won’t have vanilla beans or spirulina on hand (I don’t, normally, either).
And if, after this, you’re still not totally into the idea of opening a young coconut but want to give the recipes a try, check your local Asian or Indian markets for frozen fresh coconut (I like the larger, chipped kind best) and many regular supermarkets for coconut water. It won’t taste quite the same, but is pretty decent in a pinch. (I wouldn’t recommend trying this out with dried shredded coconut unless you don’t mind a fairly chunky texture.)
(makes one decadent portion, or two smaller portions)
meat and water from one Thai young coconut
2-3 dates, pitted (agave or coconut sap nectar to taste may also be used)
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped if not using a high-speed blender, or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
If your dates aren’t soft and sticky, soak them in water for 20 minutes or so to soften up. Starting with 1 cup of coconut water, place all ingredients in blender or food processor and process until smooth and creamy, adding additional coconut water as necessary to achieve desired consistency.
Green Cocolada Smoothie
makes two servings (or one large)
meat and water from one young coconut
3/4-1 cup frozen pineapple (fresh can be used but the smoothie will be thinner and less cold)
1 frozen banana
1 tsp spirulina powder (or a handful of spinach leaves) (optional)
1 tbsp coconut oil (optional)
Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
*Note – frozen fruit works best to achieve that creamy, smooth texture, but fresh fruit will still be tasty. Experiment with other fruits if you like (peaches were yummy!).