Did you know? In Indian mythology the Coconut tree is also known Kalpavriksha (The Tree of Life), as every part of the tree right down to the roots is useful in one way or the other.

In fact one third of the world relies on coconut for food and economic prosperity.

Although coconut water is a great source of hydration with added benefit of electrolytes, the coconut meat is the most versatile part of the coconut and can be made into coconut- milk, butter, and flour, shredded or flaked.

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Coconut meat is the inner white lining of the coconut. It is soft when the coconut is immature and becomes hard when fully ripened.

One cup of raw coconut meat contains approximately 285 calories, 12.5 gm carbohydrate (7.5 gm fiber), 3gms of protein, 27gm of fat- predominantly saturated fat (24gm). There are many great coconut meat health benefits.

I’ll admit it, I’m a coconut fiend. And its versatility makes it really easy to incorporate in most recipes. I sprinkle handful of the unsweetened, dried variety to my breakfast oatmeal, garnish my salads, make curry base or simply eat the meat fresh.

Here are some of my tried and tested ways to reap the health benefits of coconut meat.

Coconut Meat flour

Don’t toss the coconut pulp left over after freshly squeezing out the coconut milk just yet. Spread the pulp on a cookie sheet and dehydrate on lowest heat setting for several hours.

Grind to powder consistency in your spice blender. Voila! Home made coconut flour is ready to bake and roll. Transfer to airtight container, store in the refrigerator.

Coconut butter

You will need dried shredded, unsweetened coconut. Put the dried coconut in the food processor or blender. Mix on high speed, scraping down the sides often until a thick paste is formed.

What you are looking for is that the coconut starts to pull together into a buttery paste. Once it has been ground to the consistency of peanut butter, thick and spreadable, add salt to taste.

It’s a sure-fire way to get the maximum concentration of rich, velvety coconut flavor and texture in each bite.

Shredded and desiccated

Prepared from dried coconut meat-Use it in breakfast muesli, trail mix, to garnish sautéed or steamed vegetables, coat tempura batter perhaps as a “crust” for any baked dish.

Recently I started sprinkling on home made chocolate barks and brittles before they set.

coconut meat health benefits_2

Smoothies

Pour the coconut water and the coconut meat into blender and add a couple ice cubes. I like a touch of coconut nectar sometimes and raw cocoa nibs (a tablespoon seems about right).

Coconut strips

I usually shred it and, or cut it into thin strips and heat it in a skillet (over low heat) to make coconut toast. It tastes heavenly with the coconut chutney (recipe below).

Coconut chutney (dip)

This coconut mint chutney is my all time favorite- One can use as a spread on burgers, sandwiches perhaps use as a dip.

All you need is fresh coconut meat, mint leaves, cilantro leaves, garlic, ginger, hot pepper, lemon juice, coconut milk/ cream just enough to mix the dry ingredients. Toss it in a blender. Hint of salt and it’s ready.

Desserts

Make note, the coconut flour cannot be substituted for wheat or any other grain-based flours (1:1 ratio); they are not equivalent. Being extraordinarily absorbent; very little coconut flour is needed to successfully produce a recipe.

In baked goods, you generally want to substitute 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup coconut flour for 1 cup grain-based flour. To make coconut flavored cookies I generally add desiccated coconut to the cookie mixture.

The toasted coconut flavor is heavenly. For ice-creams simply blend the Coconut meat from 2 young coconuts (about 1 3/4 cups) in your favorite ice cream mix, preferably vanilla. Now try to resist eating it all before it’s frozen!

In case you are running out of time and want a quick fix simply garnish your dish with freshly shredded or desiccated coconut.

Why the coconut meat can’t be beat?

Coconut meat is high in the trace mineral manganese, with one cup providing 67 percent of the recommended daily amount for women and 52% for men.

It provides a significant amount of two other minerals: potassium (14%) and copper (39%) of the recommended amount. It is low in protein but it contains protein of the highest biological value.

In other words, the higher a protein’s biological value — the more usable it is. The types of fats present in coconut meat are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).

When you eat coconut meat, the MCTs it contains are transported from the intestinal tract to the liver and immediately transformed into fuel. This then means there is very little MCTs left to circulate and deposit in fat tissues in the body.

Eating coconut meat appears to protect against heart disease and stroke as well. As it turns out, coconut meat’s measurable vitamins A and E, and polyphenols and phytosterols, all work together to decrease the levels of LDL cholesterol.

This protective properties of coconut meat is perhaps the reason that some populations whose staple food is coconut, have no incidence whatsoever of stroke and heart disease.

If you have tips for using coconut meat, favorite recipes to share or how adding coconut has helped you health wise, join the conversation by leaving a comment.

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