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Coconuts are an edible fruit that comes from Coconut Palm trees. In Sanskrit, this tree is known as “kalpa vriksha”, meaning “tree which gives all that is necessary for living”; this is because nearly all parts can be used, from milk to sugar. I would hazard a guess and say that you’ve consumed part of a Coconut Palm before, whether it was from a coconuty chocolate snack or a creamy soup.
The water that comes from coconut is commonly found in cartons in supermarkets and is an excellent health food - not to be confused with coconut milk. Coconut milk is made by “grating fresh coconut flesh and then working that with water, traditionally by hand”, which means that it’s not something you can naturally find inside of the fruit. Coconut milk is a creamy, delicious alternative to dairy and is hugely versatile. Here’s why you should be using it...
Coconut milk is high in calories and saturated fat, making it a great ingredient for bulking up meals and adding richness. According to BBC Good Food, “Coconut flesh is highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.” Canned coconut milk may have fewer nutrients than fresh coconut flesh, but the good news is that you can quite easily make the milk from home.
Coconut milk is an unbeatable ingredient when making dishes extra hearty, thick, and creamy. It’s often used in meals like curry, soup, pasta sauce, or decadent desserts. Baking with coconut milk instead of dairy makes for a healthier alternative that doesn’t compromise sweetness and necessary fats. In fact, health concerns are one of the top reasons coconut milk is becoming so popular - it’s a tasty alternative to cholesterol-heavy dairy products.
You can also use coconut milk instead of regular milk to liven up your coffee and use it as a base for smoothies. Most coffee chains will offer coconut milk as an option, so look out for that next time!
Coconut milk comes in either a can or a carton. The type that comes in a carton tends to be slightly diluted, whereas the type that comes in a can is thicker and creamier. You’d typically use carton coconut milk for cereal or drinks like smoothies, but canned coconut milk is best for food recipes.
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