Five new ways with coconuts

By Fiona Ralph

Picture / Thinkstock.
Picture / Thinkstock.

I'm not going to claim the superfood label - too many ethical, environmental and health issues there - and proclaim coconuts to be all you should consume for the next week, but I will say that the delicious, nutritious nut is booming.

Over the past few years, coconut oils, waters, butters, flours and sugars have taken off, with new forms and brands popping up everywhere. The days when your only coconut fix came via a can or the pick-and-mix selection are over.

Here's a little list of new and upcoming products to look out for, plus a couple of our not-so-new favourites.

1. Nice Cream was the first coconut based icecream in New Zealand, we love that they work with the Savaii Coconut Farmers Association, the first Fairtrade certified coconut farmers.

Sandra Mendez of Fairtrade ANZ says a larger group in Tonga will be certified in a few months, which is a good sign for the industry.

Coyo, the vegan alternative to yoghurt, also plans to release their icecream in the next couple of months - expect flavours like pineapple, sticky date and tamarind, and cherry and chocolate nibs - yum!

2. Coaqua is the latest coconut water to hit the shelves and proclaims to be the sweetest (naturally) on the market, which I'd have to agree with. There's an interesting back story, too.

It took founders Grier Govorko (former Red Hot Chili Peppers production designer and industrial designer of beds, speakers and more) and Steve Gilberd many months scouring South East Asia to find the perfect sweet coconut stock.

New company Cocoloco is doing away with packaging, importing the young coconuts direct, to drink straight from the nut. Expect to see them in cafes from September.

3. Wellington Chocolate Factory's coconut milk and coconut sugar chocolate, a vegan "dairy milk", is not super new but definitely noted. This is where my full-blown coconut obsession kicks in. This is the best chocolate I have ever eaten, and I'm not vegan.

Something about the high percentage of cocoa (50 per cent), the minimal ingredients and processing which let the flavour of the beans shine through, and the creaminess of the coconut milk, which take you to a tropical place. Okay, I'll calm down now.

Amazing, though, and, very strangely for me, the intensity means I need only a few pieces at a time. The beautiful packaging and fair trade and organic story behind the brand is great, too.

4. Mixing coconut with your coffee is one of the latest ways to indulge, with Bulletproof Coffee proponing the addition of coconut oil and butter to your long black. Sounds strange, but it has its diehard fans who love the creamy kick and apparent energy boost.

Bulletproof Coffee is the original brand by Dave Asprey, who brought the concept to the US from Tibet, but you can make it yourself, or try the Fat Black at Albany's Sip Kitchen.

Disclaimer - we haven't tried this one yet, and there are concerns about the large dosage of saturated fats from some health professionals. Coconut cold brew sounds good, too, with some food bloggers recommending toasting shredded coconut and mixing it with your coffee before brewing.

5. Although we have mixed feelings about frying with coconut oil (one has to enjoy the taste even if products claim you can't taste the coconut), we've found it's great for stir fries and curries, or to get that Southeast Asian or Pacific Island infusion in your dishes.

Baking with it is worthwhile, though - it's a butter alternative used by bloggers such as Eleanor Ozich to create recipes like this. Note that overdosing on it can bring back childhood chocolate crackle memories, when you felt sick from trying to eat straight doses of kremelta (the non-fashionable and less healthy hydrogenated coconut oil).


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