Coconut is a member of the palm family and is botanically, a drupe. No other fruit is as versatile as coconut. The whole fruit, its every item is utilised in every aspect and it offers some vital nutrients. It is mostly grown in the tropical areas and is thought to have originated somewhere in the Indo-Malaya. The ripe fruit has brown hard shells with white flesh and water inside, while the green unripe one has a green outer softer shell with white flesh and water inside. The fruit can be consumed in both ways and are highly nutritious, rich in fiber, and packed with essential vitamins and minerals. From culinary creations to magic beauty potions, coconuts pack a good punch.
Benefits of coconut
- Supports immune system health: it is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasite
- Provides quick energy naturally and enhances physical and athletic performance.
- Improves digestion and absorption of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
- Improves insulin secretion and symptoms associated with diabetes.
- Helps to protect the body from cancers, due to insulin reduction, removal of free radicals that causes premature aging and degenerative disease.
- Reduces the risk of health of heart and improves good cholesterol (HDL).
- Restores and supports the thyroid function.
- Helps in protecting against kidney disease and bladder infection.
- Promotes weight loss.
- Helps to keep hair and skin healthy and youthful, prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, age spots, and provides sun protection.
The outer husk of the coconuts is utilized for producing smoke in many rituals and is believed to possess medicinal abilities. The leaves of the coconut tree are used in making brooms.
Adding coconuts to your diet
Coconut water is a great way to hydrate the body and helps by gaining back lost salts. The white flesh can be eaten just as it is or added to various dishes by shredding or mixing with desserts to give them a tropical twist. Coconut milk is made by mixing shredded, fresh coconut meat with water, then squeezing it through a sieve or cheesecloth. The thick, creamy liquid that comes out is coconut milk and can be used for Thai curries and stews. Coconut cream on the other hand is basically coconut milk without all the water. It is thicker and pastier. Coconut sugar is derived from the coconut sap, the sweet juice extracted, when the budding flower is just about to grow. This process offers a delicious, sweet taste similar to brown sugar with a hint of caramel, with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Coconut sugar is considered as low glycemic food and is diabetic friendly. Coconuts are also utilised in making flour.
Coconut is likely safe, when eaten in food amounts. In some adults or children, eating coconuts may cause an allergic reaction. Also coconut is high in saturated fat so it should be consumed in moderation.
Recipe for Coconut ladoo
PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES, COOK TIME: 30 MINUTES, TOTAL TIME: 35 MINUTES, SERVINGS: 11
2 cups coconut, fresh / desiccated
1½ cup milk
¾ cup sugar
2 tbsp cashew, chopped
¼ tsp cardamom powder / elachi powder
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
Firstly, in a large kadai take 2 cups coconut (fresh / desiccated) and 1½ cup milk.
Mix well making sure the coconut gets wet completely.
Now, add ¾ cup sugar or jaggery. add more sugar for sweetness if required.
Mix it continuously, keeping the flame on low.
Sugar starts to melt and the mixture turns watery.
Keep stirring with low flame.
Milk starts to evaporate after 20 minutes and the mixture turns crumble.
Cool the mixture for 10 minutes or till it slightly cools down.
Now add 2 tbsp of chopped cashew and ¼ tsp cardamom powder. Mix well.
Prepare small balls to form ladoo.
Roll it onto the desiccated coconut. This is optional, however it makes ladoo more attractive.
Finally, serve coconut ladoo or store in a airtight container for a week.
Recipe for South Indian Coconut Rice
Preparation Time: 15 mins Cooking Time: 12 mins Total Time: 27 mins Makes 4 servings
1/2 cup freshly grated coconut
2 1/2 cups cooked rice
2 tbsp sesame seeds (til)
1 tsp ghee
3 tbsp broken cashewnuts (kaju)
2 tsp oil
1 tsp urad dal (split black lentils)
1 tsp chana dal (split bengal gram)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tsp mustard seeds ( rai / sarson)
1 whole dry kashmiri red chilli , broken into pieces
7 to 8 curry leaves (kadi patta)
1/2 tsp asafoetida (hing)
2 tsp finely chopped green chillies
salt to taste
Heat a small broad non-stick pan, add the sesame seeds and dry roast on a medium flame for 3 to 4 minutes, while stirring continuously.
Allow the mixture to cool completely.
When cool, blend in a mixer to a coarse powder and keep aside.
Heat the ghee in the deep-non stick kadhai, add the cashewnuts and sauté on a medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and keep aside.
Heat the oil in the same non-stick deep kadhai, add the urad dal and chana dal and sauté on a medium flame for 30 seconds.
Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, red chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida and sauté on a medium flame for 1 minute.
Add the prepared sesame powder, green chillies, coconut, rice and salt, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes, while stirring occasionally.
Serve hot garnished with sautéed cashewnuts.
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