Review of Tiana Organic – Raw Organic Coconut Goodness

Tiana Organic Coconut

We bought a 350g jar of Tiana Raw Organic Coconut from Holland and Barratt for £9.99. I wanted something good because it was for someone with cancer. The reviews on their website were very commending. Not only is the coconut organic but it is also a free trade product. For these reasons I bought the coconut product.

The coconut goes hard in the fridge with a powdery layer on the top. You are supposed to take the jar out of the fridge and put it in a pan of hot water for 15 minutes to make it soft before you cook with it. My wife doesn’t follow this advice, instead she gets a knife and carves out some of the coconut and puts it in the cooking.

The smell is delicious with the natural aroma of coconut. The flavour by itself of the coconut is rich and full with a lingering coconut taste. It is like a dairy product, but not greasy. The taste of coconut flesh never ceases to surprise my palate. I rate this product quite highly.

The coconut not only tastes good but it can also be used for many dishes and drinks. It has 68.8g of fat of which 65.7g are the good saturated type (high in medium chain triglycerides). This is as much coconut oil as coconut flesh.
Tiana Organic Coconut
My only criticism would be that £10 for 350g is too expensive. This is balanced by the claims to no GMO, no pesticides, no cholesterol, no artificial colours, no preservatives, no sugar, no starch, no salt and no artificial preservatives. Not to mention fair prices to the farmers. Still this makes the product a luxury and not something that you would want to get through in a week. Indeed we have had our jar for a couple of months already.

Coconut to Fight Cancer

As you can read elsewhere on this site, coconut oil has experimental data to suggest it is beneficial in the fight against cancer. Lim-Sylianco carried out the first ground breaking experiment with rats that were injected with breast and colon cancer – only 3% of the rats fed on coconut oil developed cancerous cells.

The person who I bought it for (my wife) probably doesn’t eat enough of Tiana Organic Coconut to make much of a health impact. We are placing our faith far more on the efficacy of chemo therapy, despite of the debilitating side effects.

Nevertheless superstition is the root of belief and magic. Any magic help we can get we are eager to try, even for £10.

Cooking with Tiana Organic Coconut

My wife has used the raw coconut in the following ways:

  • In mushy peas. It gives the peas a rich taste and made our 3-year-old eat some greens
  • Stir fried with chicken to make chicken and coconut soup. I liked this one
  • On toast. My wife tried this. She said it tasted OK, but that it was hard to spread
  • With boiled vegetables. Adding instead of butter on just boiled and drained vegetables

There must be hundreds of more ways of bringing this product into the normal diet of a family with a young child.

To sum up, Tiana Organic Coconut is an excellent product that can be used in several ways to improve your general health. There is evidence to suggest that making coconut oil part of your regular diet can help prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Whether it can be bought cheaper than £10 from a shop other than Holland Barrett is key in my decision as to if I buy this product again.

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Review of Vita Coco Kids Apple and Blackcurrant

Vita Coco Apple and Blackcurrant
My dad recently bought a 4 pack of Vita Coco Apple and Blackcurrant for his granddaughter. Each carton has 180ml of flavoured coconut water suitable for children. As with Vita Coco’s coconut water, this product is excellent quality and a great way to get your children to take coconut water.

The tangy taste of pure coconut water can be a bit off-putting for children, especially children used to the nasty sugary drinks they normally get served as a treat. I was thus curious to see if my daughter would like this product. Indeed she did. She sucked the carton dry. She is 3 years old and loves straws, and so having a straw included with each carton was a definite plus.

If my daughter liked it, would I? The first tastes that hits your tongue is the blackcurrant. There is a subtle after-taste of coconut water that stays on your palate after the sweetness of the blackcurrant has resided. I like it.

The ingredients make for interesting reading:

Coconut water 37.5%
Water 36.5%
Grape juice 25%
Citric acid
Natural apple and blackcurrant flavouring with other natural flavourings.

ingredients for Vita Coco Apple and Blackcurrant

It is good to see that more than a third of the drink is pure coconut water. What is surprising is that it isn’t blackcurrant juice but grape juice. The taste of the drink is created by ‘apple and blackcurrant flavouring’. The grape juice adds sweetness. The only concern is what is the ‘apple and blackcurrant flavouring’ composed of? They promise that they don’t use concentrate.

My father bought the Vita Coco Apple and Blackcurrant box of 4 cartons for about £2 from Sainsbury’s. He liked it because the box is designed to provide insulation and keep the cartons inside cool. That is great for his small fridge. Another bonus is that 180ml is a good sized portion for a young child.

Finally, the packaging is well made. The branding and cover design is attractive for kids and as well as having a monkey, flamingo and seagull on the box it has a joke and a dot-to-dot activity for kids. There is also a picture of a coconut and a palm tree. This all helps to associate fun beach life with healthy coconuts. This is the right type of propaganda.

vitacocoappleandblackcurrantbox

I have looked at how an adult can easily incorporate coconut into their diet if they live in the UK. Vita Coco Apple and Blackcurrant is a great way for British kids to add coconut water to their regular diet. For our daughter it is a treat. She has now started to place value on coconuts.

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Coconut Crabs

coconut crab
Perhaps one of the most interesting creatures associated with the coconut palm is the coconut crab or Birgus latro. It is the largest living arthropod in the world. Before you ask, an arthropod is an animal with an exoskeleton, a segmented body and jointed appendages (in the case of crabs, claws). The coconut crab is also known as the palm thief and the robber crab because of its dependence on the coconut palm. Indeed the dispersion of the coconut crab mirrors the spread of the coconut itself. Both are confined to the tropics and subtropics where there is no frost.

The biggest problem for the coconut crab, other than a lack of coconuts, is not frost, but a loss of habitat and human predation. Coconut crab meat is considered a delicacy on many South East Asian and Pacific islands; its meat is also thought to be an aphrodisiac. However, coconut crab meat can be made poisonous if the crab feeds on a diet containing substances poisonous to people.

The coconut crab is a big animal. It can grow up to 1 meter in length and can weigh up to 4 kilograms. It is almost entirely land dwelling, only going back to the sea to lay its eggs. Indeed coconut crabs will drown if left in water for a day.

Lack of moisture is a key concern for the crab. It makes its nest by burrowing into the sand or loose soil. It uses the husk of the coconut to form a nest which it seals once inside. This creates a microclimate that retains moisture. The crab will most often come out when it is raining and in the evening when moisture loss is reduced. The exception to this rule is on Christmas Island. The island has the largest population of coconut crabs and as a result it is believed that some venture out in the day to gain an advantage in food gathering.

Coconut crabs eat fruit, nuts and the pith that falls from trees. They also use their claws to knock a hole in a coconut (always at the three germination points on the coconut) and slowly feed away on the inside of the coconut. It takes 4 or 5 days for a coconut crab to consume a coconut. It is hard work for the creature. It is thus not surprising that the crab eats all manner of food stuffs. It is strictly speaking an omnivore as it will also eat carrion and even other crabs.

Coconut crabs can climb up the coconut palm in order to drop coconuts on the ground and crack them open. They can then fall up to 4.5 meters to get back down. Considering coconuts don’t have any lower branches it is impressive behaviour.

Coconut crabs have no natural predators other than humans. They are big and should not be approached as they have dangerous claws that won’t let go, although on the Line Islands in Micronesia it is believed tickling their soft underbelly makes them release their hold.

Numbers of the creature are under threat: it is classified as a vulnerable species and is on the IUCN Red List. In some countries there are restrictions on the hunting of the crabs.

The coconut crab has a strong relationship with the coconut palm as it uses the plant for nest material as well as food. It will also climb the coconut to get what it needs. It is a striking creature and a good example of how important the coconut is to the ecology of tropical and sub tropical islands.

The Largest and Oldest Coconut Crab

The largest coconut crab recorded weighed 17 kilograms and lived over 60 years. One wonders if the longevity of the creature is connected to its diet which is high in coconut oil!

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Blue Dragon Creamed Coconut Review

Blue Dragon Creamed Coconut

This small and simple product gets the big thumbs up by www.coconutoilbenefits.biz. It is sold by the Co-Op Supermarket in the UK and through other distributors Worldwide. In the shop down the road from me it costs about 1 British Pound. That’s a bargain if you can’t get your hands on fresh coconut oil easily.

Blue Dragon Creamed Coconut

Unlike other coconut products on the shelves in supermarkets it is not adulterated with additives both natural and unnatural. Creamed Coconut by Blue Dragon is 100% coconut. It comes in a handy 200g block inside a small box. At room temperature it is a bar of firm but soft coconut cream. It gives off a subtle coconut aroma. It is so good that you can eat it as it is in small amounts. Alternatively you can add it to your cooking – Thai soups and curries, deserts, smoothies, slow cook food, sauces. The recipe possibilities are vast with coconut cream.

On the back of the boxes I have recently been buying includes a simple recipe for making Thai Green Curry. A great intro to cooking with coconut cream as the richness of the coconut tames the fiery chili peppers.

creamed coconut

To make coconut milk from the creamed coconut you pour 400 ml of boiling water into a jug and add 100g (or half a bar) of creamed coconut. Simply stir until dissolved.

Eating the coconut cream straight from the box reminds me how coconut seems rich but it is not greasy like other oils. You get the flavor on your palate but it doesn’t linger in an oily after taste.

If you want the benefit of coconut oil in your life but you are busy (like most people) and cannot always make the effort to miss the supermarket and its factory food products then this creamed coconut is a must-have on your shelf. Not only does coconut have myriad health benefits but also it makes food taste great.

Click Here to See Creamed Coconut Products on Amazon

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Marks and Spencer’s Coconut Milk Review

Marks and Spencer coconut milk ingredients
Where ever I go in the world I am searching in shops, markets and indeed in the jungle for the best coconut products. www.coconutoilbenefits.biz is about the benefits of coconut oil, milk, water, flour and sugar. It is also about sourcing the best coconut products, and how to use them effectively. At the moment I’m stuck in the UK. As with the USA and other developed countries the food distribution network is dominated by a few supermarket giants. I believe this has given us less rather than more choice as regards to the food items we can buy. This is backed up by the fact that there is a paucity of coconut products to be found in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons and so on. As a result I have been ordering coconut items online from Amazon.

The other day my wife spotted coconut milk in Marks and Spencer. It is a store that has established itself as selling ‘quality’ food and clothing. As a result of their marketing position they are not cheap. A 400 ml can of coconut milk costs £1.98. Compare this to Tropical Sun Coconut Milk that costs £9.96 for 12 cans on Amazon.co.uk or Thai Kitchen Pure Coconut Milk that costs $27.77 for 12 cans on Amazon.com. The M&S Coconut Milk really is more expensive.

Marks & Spencer Coconut Milk Review

Marks and Spencer coconut milk

My first check of a can of coconut milk is to check the percentage. The Marks and Spencer’s coconut milk is an impressive 82% coconut extract. This much higher than many other cans of coconut milk I have found in Asian stores which are often as low as 60%.

There is no such thing as 100% coconut milk in a can. Even the supposed 100% brands such as Native Forest Classic Organic coconut milk contain filtered water and guar gum. The only exception I have found is Aroy D. This is a carton from Thailand sold on Amazon that claims to be “100% pure coconut milk in aseptic packs with no stabilizers, thickeners, gums, or preservatives”. If interested in Aroy D coconut milk click on the link below.

Aroy-D 100% Coconut Milk

Click here to buy Aroy-D 100% coconut milk online from Amazon

Taste of M&S Coconut Milk

I made a coconut soup with the milk using various vegetables and pork. It was an accompaniment to a Thai dish I made from a pack of seasoning I picked up last time I was in a supermarket in Bangkok.

The soup was very creamy. It had a rich and coconut taste. I have to say that Marks and Spencer canned coconut milk is the best I have so far found in shops in the UK and only beaten by fresh coconut milk that I have tried in Thailand and India. The only thing I didn’t like about M&S coconut milk (other than the price) was that it contains added sugar. Why or why?

I’m not sure I can afford to pay nearly £2 every time I want to cook with coconut milk but it is encouraging to find such good coconut milk in a country whose populace is mostly brainwashed into thinking saturated fats are bad for the health.

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Getting Coconut Products in your Diet

Co-op Muesli containing coconut oil

Options

If you have heard about the important health benefits from eating coconut products such as coconut oil, coconut milk and coconut sugar; as well as drinking coconut water you might feel somewhat at a loss as to how to get coconut into your diet. It is one thing to decide to eat more coconut; it is another to actually follow through on your intentions.

Of course, the best way to seriously up your coconut oil consumption is to buy plenty of coconut oil from Amazon and to spend the time researching great recipes that can be adapted to use coconut oil.

Personally, I don’t have the time to learn lots of new recipes at once. I prefer to do things gradually. So far, I have learnt to make a good Thai Green curry, chicken in coconut soup and sticky rice with mango and coconut milk. At the weekend I sometimes bake coconut bread (see my recipe – http://coconutoilbenefits.biz/coconut-bread/).

Some people will just eat a spoon full of coconut oil for breakfast. I don’t find this palatable. If I want a quick coconut boost I will put a can of coconut milk in a blender with some fruit and make a smoothie. I usually order a pack of 12 coconut water (Zico or Vita Coco) and keep a few in the fridge. I drink 1 when I get back from work or after exercise. I am also lucky in that where I am currently staying has a small shop at the end of the road that sells tetrapaks of coconut water. It is run by an Asian family. I don’t think they sell much of the stuff but keep it as part of their range.

Supermarkets and Coconut Products

I have recently started looking for coconut products in supermarkets. Like most people, I do my big shops at supermarkets and so it is great when I can pick up a coconut product while getting my weekly groceries. This is sadly difficult. It seems supermarkets are addicted to polyunsaturated fats and are not aware of the benefits of coconuts. Morrisons and sometimes Sainsbury’s have whole brown coconuts. These are old coconuts and only have a small amount of coconut water. The meat, however, is rich in coconut oil. It takes some effort to open a coconut (see my blog post) but worth it. The coconut meat lasts for a long time and makes a tasty snack.

Coconut long Shelf Life

This is generally true of all coconut products – they don’t go off quickly. Coconut oil and milk contain anti-oxidant properties. This means you don’t have to worry about buying coconut and it going off before you have a chance to use it. Coconut oil is good for 6 months if left in a larder or pantry. The anti-oxidizing property of coconut oil is also beneficial for health as it means it doesn’t go rancid in the body (unlike polyunsaturated oils).

Another item you can buy in most supermarkets that contain coconut oil is muesli. Check the ingredients. I try to avoid those muesli (granola) brands with added sugar. The Co-operative in the UK carry a cheap muesli called ‘mixed fruit muesli’. It contains only naturally occurring salts and sugars. It also contains dried banana with coconut oil. It is only a small amount of coconut oil but it is better than nothing. Moreover, muesli is better for you than other sugar rich cereals or a cooked breakfast.

To sum up, you should get coconut oil into your diet in a way that suits your lifestyle. It is now easy to buy coconut products online, and it also possible to find a few coconut containing food items in shops. This all depends on where you live and how vigilant you are about what’s in your food. And, finally, it is a good idea to gradually learn a few recipes that use coconut. Naturally, it should be food that you really like. After all, there is no reason why being healthy should be unpleasant.

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Coconut Oil Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease

Drug companies have had little success developing drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Medivation and Pfizer’s new drug dimebon to combat Alzheimer’s disease was recently scrapped after Phase III results showed the drug didn’t have any impact on the disease. This caused the companies involved to lose $725 million (see note 1). Pfizer is only interested in making patented drugs that increase share price and profits. They are unlikely to produce a pill containing coconut oil to treat Alzheimer’s disease (AD) because they can’t claim the rights to coconut oil. Yet, new medical evidence suggests that taking coconut oil in the diet is the best way to prevent AD as well as to treat the devastating disease.

In order to treat a disease it is necessary to understand it. Alzheimer’s is caused when the brain no longer receives enough energy in the form of glucose. This causes brain cells to die and for sufferers to lose memory and other mental abilities.

It is key to note that the brain represents 2% of our total body weight but it contains 25% of all the cholesterol found in the body. Cholesterol is needed as an antioxidant and as an electrical insulator. Moreover, cholesterol is part of the brain’s neural network and the synaptic network. And yet, the medical establishment still tells us how bad cholesterol is in the diet. The truth is that HDL cholesterol is actually vital for good health.

As noted repeatedly in this website the media-induced wisdom that polyunsaturated fats are good for us as they allow us to lower our cholesterol levels is simply wrong. Polyunsaturated fats are bad for us. Having a low cholesterol diet is bad for us.

In the case of Alzheimer’s disease increasing cholesterol in the diet by eating coconut oil can effectively treat the disease. Dr. Mary Newport found her husband was developing AD and she started adding coconut oil to her husband’s diet. The result was that the deterioration caused by AD was halted, and indeed her husband started to show signs of recovery. For more about this story see the YouTube video below.

In an article in the European Journal of Internal Medicine (see note 2) researchers note the connection between insulin resistance in the brain and the onset of AD. This makes AD similar to type 3 diabetes. The authors of the article conclude that AD is caused by a defect in cholesterol metabolism in the brain. They further point out that the high fructose levels found in corn oil is ten times more reactive than glucose. It causes glycation and impairs serum proteins which lead to reduced cholesterol levels in the brain. Supporting evidence for this theory is that patients with type 2 diabetes are up to 5 times more likely to develop AD.

How Coconut Oil fights Alzheimer’s Disease

An insulin problem impedes brain cells from accepting glucose. This is food for the brain, and starved of glucose the brain cells start to die. When you eat coconut oil ketones are metabolized in the liver. These ketones travel to the brain and nourish the brain cells stopping them dying. It is food containing medium chain triglycerides that can deliver ketones that combat AD. Polyunsaturated fats like soy and vegetables oils contain long chain triglycerides that don’t give the body ketones. It is this fact that makes coconut oil an important remedy to AD.

Another factor that is believed to cause AD is lipid oxidation. Polyunsaturated fats oxidize quickly, and cause oxidation in the body. In contrast, coconut oil has strong anti-oxidant properties. It can remain on the shelf for 2 years without going rancid.

Alzheimer’s disease starts to develop years before it is noticed. Thus, it is a good idea to regularly take coconut oil in your diet as a preventative measure. The more studies that are done on the health benefits of coconut oil the more we are discovering that the ‘official’ insistence on unsaturated fats is wrong, and the more we are also discovering coconut oil has unique properties that keep our bodies healthy in a number of ways.

Sources:

1)    http://www.fiercebiotech.com/story/pfizer-writes-725m-dimebon-pact-after-final-phase-iii-failure/2012-01-17

2)    Seneff S, et al, Nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease: The detrimental role of a high carbohydrate diet, European Journal of  Internal Medicine (2011)

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Coconut Sugar

Organic Coconut Sugar

Click here to find the best price for Coconut Milk on Amazon

Another great example of how useful the coconut palm can be is found in the fact that it is possible to extract sugar from the plant. This is commonly called ‘coco sugar’, ‘coconut palm sugar’ and ‘coco sap sugar’. It is made from the sap from flower buds that have been cut. In places where coconuts grow in a great abundance such as India, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia coconut sugar has been made for thousands of years to sweeten food and make alcohol.

Coconut sugar is harvested in a similar way to rubber in that the plant is cut .In the case of the coconut palm it is the spadix of the blossoms that are cut. The plant tries to seal the cut by secreting a sugary substance that is collected in bamboo containers. This is often called ‘tapping’.

The collected liquid is about 80% water. It is heated to remove the water. What remains is a thick liquid often called ‘toddy’. This can then be fermented to make coconut alcohol. Alternatively, the toddy can be further heated so that coconut sugar crystals are produced.

Taste of Coconut Sugar

The taste of coconut sugar depends on a number of variables which include when the sap was harvested, how it was reduced, the type of coconut palm used, the weather conditions and the packaging process. However, it is normally thought that coconut sugar is less sweet than refined sugar and has a subtle hint of caramel in its taste.

Health Benefits of Coconut Sugar

As we have seen in www.coconutoilbenefits.biz coconut products such as coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut flour and coconut water all have important health benefits. It should not be a surprise therefore that coconut sugar is a healthier sugar than either standard refined white sugar or brown sugar commonly found in supermarkets in the developed world.

Glycemic Index of Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar has a glycemic index of 35. The glycemic index or GI measures the amount of blood glucose in the body caused by eating a certain amount of food. The base line is glucose – if this is eaten it raises blood glucose levels in a 1 to 1 ratio or 100%. Food scientists have connected eating foods with a high GI with an increased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. Below 55 is considered a low GI rating; 56 to 69 a medium GI rating and over 70 a high rating. In essence, the higher the glycemic index the unhealthier the food is. Refined white sugar typically has a GI in the mid 60s. This makes coconut sugar a much healthier option than normal sugar in terms of blood glucose levels. As a result, coconut sugar is a popular substitute for refined white sugar and brown sugar for those with diabetes. Retailers are now responding to this demand – you can now buy coconut sugar online at Amazon. It is also available in food specialty stores and in Asian supermarkets.

To find out more about the glycemic index see www.glycemicindex.com

Mineral Content of Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is like coconut oil and other coconut products in that it has a high mineral content. It is a great source for potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. See the table below to see just how much healthier coconut sugar is compared to both brown sugar and white sugar.

Mg/ 1-ppm, dry Coconut Sugar Brown Sugar Refined White Sugar
Nitrogen 2020 100 0
Phosphorous 790 30 0.7
Potassium 10,300 650 25
Calcium 60 240 60
Magnesium 290 70 10
Sodium 450 20 10
Chlorine 4,700 180 100
Sulfur 260 130 20
Boron 6 0 0
Zinc 21 2 1.2
Manganese 1 2 0
Iron 22 0.6 0.6
Copper 2 12.6 1.2

The table clearly shows that for the important electrolytes of magnesium and potassium coconut sugar is a much better provider. Refined white sugar has nothing good in it. It is only for calcium and copper that brown sugar outperforms coconut sugar.

Amino Acids in Coconut Sugar

Finally, coconut sugar contains 16 amino acids. The most prevalent amino acid is glutamine which has been shown to be important for body building as well as treating the side-effects of cancer therapy, trauma and burns (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glutamine). A regime of glutamine supplements has also been shown to speed up recovery times after abdominal surgery and other operations.

Vitamins in Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar as with other coconut food products is a great source of vitamins. In particular coconut sugar contains significant amounts of B1, B2, B3 and B6. B vitamins are important for healthy cell metabolism.

Conclusion

People are more conscious than ever before about the health implications of their diet. While it is difficult (and perhaps erroneous) to remove sugar entirely from the diet, it is a great idea to substitute white or brown sugar in recipes with coconut sugar. It comes in a granular form just like normal sugar and can be used in recipes in exactly the same way. Moreover, coconut sugar is available in organic form. It might be slightly more expensive than the sugar you buy in a supermarket but it is much better for your body. It also means you can indulge your sweet tooth in good conscience.

Sources:

Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut_sugar
The table is quoted by Wikipedia and is provided originally by the Philippine Food and Nutrition Research Institute

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Coconut Water Cocktails

vita cocoCoconut water cocktails good for you?

The idle wish of many who enjoy drinking more than doing exercise is that they can find a mixer to go with their alcohol that is so healthy that it counteracts the effects of the alcohol and maybe goes a bit further and has an overall beneficial effect.

vita coco in a glassIt seems unlikely that coconut water can do all of this, but it probably comes closer than any other mixer. For a start coconut water is an exact match with blood plasma and is thus most readily welcome by the body. Secondly, coconut water is rich in electrolytes. Whereas alcohol dehydrates the body the coconut water will counteract this. Since a hangover is mostly caused by loss of liquid, coconut water cocktails that help to rehydrate the body to prevent a hangover the next morning.

coconut water cocktail

I recently bought a carton of vita coco and decided to test how it tasted as a mixer with spirits. I chilled the coconut water in the fridge and then poured it into a pint glass. Not so elegant but there is a surprising amount of coconut water in 1 carton of vita coco. Then I added a few cubes of ice and finally applied a liberal amount of Gordon’s Gin. I guess vodka would have worked equally as well, but I only had gin in the drinks corner.

My coconut water and gin drink had an initial kick but got smoother as I drank more. The creamy slightly sweet taste of the coconut water took the edge off the harsh taste of the gin. I was somewhat surprised that I liked the drink as much as I did.

And the next morning, I didn’t have a hangover. This is surprising as it was Sunday and this is a day I’m most prone to regret the fun of the night before. So I consider my first foray into real coconut water cocktails a success. For friends I would perhaps get some fruit and/ or mint to add to the cocktails and of course use more elegant glassware.

More about coconut water cocktails

The most recognized brand that contains coconut is Malibu rum. This is a popular drink that makes a good drink by itself or can be mixed to make delicious cocktails.

Coconut is often thought to go best with rum; hence of course Malibu. Coconut cream is used to make piña coladas, Tropical Dream, Juliana Blue Cocktail, Road Runner, Chi Chi and Blue Hawaiians. However it is coconut water cocktails I’m interested in as coconut water is very low fat and is a better electrolyte delivery than coconut cream.

A Morisco Sour is coconut water, pisco (a South American liqueur), fresh lime juice, a touch of syrup and Marie Brizard banana liqueur. This sounds like a great cocktail, although maybe too sweet for my taste.

A simpler coconut water cocktail recipe is Coconut Passion. This is equal measures of coconut water and aged rum with a splash of Angostura bitters over ice. The drink can also be made with gin instead of rum. This cocktail is popular in the Caribbean.

After doing research, it seems that coconut water is used as a cheap mixer all over the tropics. They mix it with the local alcohol: in Mexico with tequila, in Sri Lanka with palm-arrack, in Jamaica with rum, scotch or gin. I guess it would go with vodka or any basic grain spirit. I’m certain however, it doesn’t go with sweet and sickly Thai whiskey. Maybe it does! What is apparent is that many local drinks don’t have fancy cocktail names that appear on the menus in expensive bars. Coconut water often makes these types of local drinks.

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Coconuts in Thailand

coconuts in Thailand

Coconuts in Thailand: more than just an adornment for a beach

The coconut is one of the symbols of Thailand. People often think of tall coconut trees on the fringe of white sand beaches when they imagine Thailand. This idyllic picture is a reality on many of the beaches of Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Chang, Phuket and other tourist destinations in Thailand. Coconut cultivation is very important for many communities (especially those not blessed with a lively tourist trade). Not only do coconut trees provide an income for the locals but also the coconut fruit can be harvested for its milk, meat and water. The hard shell can be carved into many household items and the rough coir can be used for gardening, mats, making rope and stuffing for mattresses, furniture upholstery etc.

Coconuts in Thailand grow best in the hot and humid south. Places like Koh Samui and Koh Phangan were known as coconut islands before the value of their gorgeous beaches was fully appreciated. In the old days it was the land in the interior of the islands that was most valuable as this was best for cultivating coconuts. Beach land was given as an inferior inheritance to daughters and second sons. How those daughters and second sons are laughing now!

Growing coconuts in Thailand

In Thailand coconut is called maprao. Coconut plantations have irrigation canals and the coconuts are grown on raised beds. The fruit from coconut is a drupe and a new coconut sprouts when it finds land. The new coconut receives nutrients from the juice and meat in the coconut. It acts as its own fertilizer. Moreover, the lauric acid in the coconut oil also helps to protect the young plant from disease. Thus, coconuts in Thailand need no expensive inputs of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to flourish. Water and sunshine is all that is needed; and the tropical rainforests in the south supply these two things in abundance.

Coconuts in Thailand take only 7 to 10 years to become productive. In some areas people shin up the trunks to harvest the coconuts. In other areas trained monkeys on leashes are used. These macaque monkeys are called ling gaeng. I’ve often seen men on motorbikes with their monkeys riding on the back.

coconut collecting monkey in Koh Phangan

The Use of Coconuts in Thailand

Every part of coconuts in Thailand is used. The juice, milk and oil is extracted and used in cooking. Coconut milk (‘nam kofee’) is particular popular as an ingredient in curries, desserts and drinks.

The dried shells are used to make numerous useful things including musical instruments. From a recent visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok I noticed coconut bracelets, souvenir coconuts filled with virgin coconut oil and coconut water scoops. The speckled color of the coconut can take a high polish and makes good decoration. Although not strictly a wood, coconut is hard enough to use like wood.

coconut bracelet in Thailandcoconut water scoopscoconut oil souvenirs in Thailand
The leaves from the coconut were traditionally used for making beach bungalows and coconut ‘timber’ used for making the floor of the bungalows. Sadly, nowadays many bungalows are made out of concrete.

Coconut coir is dry and fibrous. As mentioned, the coir from coconuts in Thailand makes good stuffing and insulating material. In Thailand it is often used as kindling to get a fire going.

Health and Beauty

Coconut oil is an important commodity in Thailand. It is used as a standard cooking oil. Perhaps many Thais are unaware of how much good their high coconut oil diet is doing them. It is one of the reasons why Thai people have good metabolisms and stay slim. Although the new found wealth of many urban Thais has changed diets, and the propensity for smoking and drinking among Thai men has changed the figures Thailand still has a heart disease rate of 2.6% (see note 1) much lower than other countries that have rates of 4.9% of the population.

Thai women use coconut oil to condition hair and keep it smooth and silky. Coconut oil is also commonly used as a moisturizer to replace lost oils and repair hands damaged by working in the fields.

Palm Sugar

Sugar can be made from the seed pods of coconuts. The seeds are cut and they ooze a liquid that is collected in bamboo poles. About 1 litre of liquid can be collected a day. This liquid or sap is boiled down into crystal form and then allowed to set. The resulting sugar is a delicacy called palm sugar.

Coconut Harvest in Thailand

The Food and Agriculture Organization for the United Nations (FAO) estimate that Thailand is the sixth largest producer of coconuts in the world. The annual harvest for 2009 was thought to be 1,721,640 tones (see note 2). That is an incredible amount of coconuts. Koh Samui alone is said to produce 2 million coconuts a month. Indeed the locals warn tourists about the dangers of falling coconuts.

Coconuts in Thailand: Cultural Conclusion

In short, coconuts in Thailand are far more than just the perfect adornment to perfect beaches. The coconut is an integral part of Thai culture.

Notes

1. http://www.nationmultimedia.com/home/2010/07/31/national/Heart-disease-the-biggest-killer-30134938.html

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut

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