Yummy. I love Coconut milk! I finally started making my own; as part of my mission to continue making everything from scratch. Now that I have tasted homemade, I’ll never go back to store bought!
Slowly but surely the items I need to buy in the grocery aisle are becoming less and less. All of the other items I use on a regular basis I order in bulk from my food co-op at great discounts.
Buying organic and eating healthy really can be affordable but it does take a lot of extra planning, requires some more time in the kitchen, and needs to be a priority, but in the end it is sooo worth it because I know that the food my family is eating is healthy and nutritious!
How do I use coconut milk?
Drink it. Ha! Pour it over homemade muesli, or baked oatmeal. Use it as a base for healthy smoothies. Like this one. Yum! Add coconut milk to a homemade chicken curry (Anthony’s favorite) or to a vegetable Thai soup.
Why make homemade?
Firstly coconut milk is dairy free, nut free and vegan. So it is a great option for anyone with food allergies or special diets. Coconut milk and almond milk are the best two options as alternative milks in my opinion. The problem with rice and soy milks are that rice milk is basically sugar water, and soy milk is full of phytoestrogens that wreak havoc on your body and hormones. Soy milk and soy products should be avoided, they have been linked to infertility, birth defects in baby boys and breast cancer just to name a few (more on soy at another time). Back to coconut milk!
Second making homemade is the only way coconut milk should be consumed, and here is why…
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical used to line canned products and cartoon goods including coconut milk (and just about any other alternative milk, either found in the chilled dairy section or in the grocery aisle. So why should BPA be avoided?
According to Chriss Kresser, a acupuncturist and practitioner of integrative medicine,
“We’ve known for decades that BPA has estrogenic activity. In vivo animal studies and in vitro cell-culture research has linked low-level estrogenic activity associated with BPA exposure to all kinds of fun stuff, like diabetes, ADHD, heart disease, infertility and cancer.
Is BPA exposure common? You bet. This CDC report found BPA in the urine of 93% of adults. Perhaps most troubling is that companies like Nestle, Similac, Enfamil and PBM all use BPA in the linings of metal cans holding baby formula. This is scary in light of a recent study which found an association between neurobehavioral problems in infants and high levels of BPA in their mothers.
So why is BPA even legal, you ask? Its safety status is still somewhat controversial. Although I’m not sure how “real” the controversy is.
On the one side you have consumer advocates and independent researchers and scientists who claim that there’s sufficient evidence against BPA, including plausible mechanisms for how it causes harm, to ban it completely. They argue that continued use of BPA in industrial and commercial materials is akin to performing a large, uncontrolled experiment on us all. I tend to agree. On the other side, you’ve got industry scientists claiming that there’s no significant evidence that low levels of BPA causes harm in humans. If I was a cynic, I might point out that these chemical industry groups are out to protect a multi-billion dollar market from government regulation. Global BPA demand is up to 12 billion pounds and growing at 5% per year.
Okay, back to coconut milk. BPA is used in the lining of certain canned foods. BPA especially leaches into canned foods that are acidic, salty or fatty, such as coconut milk, tomatoes, soup, and vegetables.
So what’s the solution here? In short, if you want to be on the safe side and reduce your exposure to BPA, you have to reduce your consumption of canned foods (including coconut milk) as much as possible. I made this recommendation in 9 Steps for Perfect Health-#3: Eat Real Food.
A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that families who ate fresh food for three days with no canned food, and using only glass storage containers, experienced a 60% reduction of BPA in their urine. The reductions were even higher (75%) for those with the highest BPA levels at the beginning of the study.”
Is BPA the only reason to be concerned when considering consuming store bought coconut milk? Not exactly, guar gum is added to coconut milk and used to thicken other foods, it is a polysaccharides which is derived from the endosperm of guar beans. There is no evidence that guar gum causes any potential harm unless you are someone who suffers from digestive problems like myself, “In my clinical experience, many patients with gut issues improve when they remove guar gum from their diet – including canned coconut milk” says Kresser. As a general rule I like to avoid all unnecessary ingredients and focus on eating wholefoods in the closest form possible, which means, home and freshly made without additives, chemicals and preservatives.
We should also be concerned about the the harmful additives in store bought coconut milk, such as synthetic vitamins. Even organic brands have synthetic vitamins. Sarah from The Healthy Home Economist and board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation says, “Even small amounts of the synthetic fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A can prove toxic and should be strictly avoided!” Synthetic Vitamin A has been associated with birth defects and bone fractures. Added Vitamin D2 is another culprit and should be avoided as well because it is also very toxic.
Making homemade really is the best way to go. Unfortunately we need to be very careful about the “store” bought products that we buy. Most store bought items, even organic are still filled with preservatives or produced with soy and corn fillers, or unhealthy oils such as canola or vegetable oils. Read your labels carefully and research the companies you decide to purchase from.
It is a never ending battle, so take one step at a time. Decide what to tackle next in your pantry and decide to make one more thing homemade at a time. Slowly you will have less and less store bought items in your pantry. It is a slow process! It is taking me 3 years, but slow and steady wins the race, right? Making changes for your family is hard, but it is well worth it.
Is Coconut Milk Healthy?
Why yes! Kesser states,
“From a nutritional perspective, it’s an excellent choice. It’s high in saturated fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are both easily burned as fuel by the body. MCTs are particularly beneficial in that they don’t require bile acids for digestion, and they’re directly shunted to the liver via the portal vein.”
Coconut milk also has a variety of vitamins and minerals and may aid in:
- maintaining blood sugar
- keeping skin and blood vessels flexible
- building strong bones
- controlling weight
- decreasing the risk of joint inflammation
- lowering high blood pressure
- maintaining a healthy immune system
- promoting health of prostate gland
Coconut milk is also high in lauric acid which is also found in natures best milk, breast milk! Lauric acid helps in building a healthy blood cholesterol profile. According to Elizabeth Walling at Natural News,
“When lauric acid is present in the body, it is converted into monolaurin, a monoglyceride compound which exhibits antiviral, antimicrobial, antiprotozoal and antifungal properties. It acts by disrupting the lipid membranes in organisms like fungus, bacteria and viruses, thus destroying them.
The compound monolaurin is an effective treatment for candida albicans and fungal infections like ringworm and athlete’s foot. Monolaurin also specifically targets bacterial infections as well as lipid-coated viruses like herpes, the measles, influenza, hepatitis C and HIV. Researchers in the Philippines have even begun studies to prove the effectiveness of lauric acid against HIV/AIDS because of its strong antiviral properties. Plus, lauric acid is basically non-toxic, which gives it a distinct advantage over modern pharmaceutical drugs that are typically used to fight viruses, bacterial infections and fungal infections.”
You will need:
- 3.5 cups dried unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut flakes
- 7 cups of hot water
- 1 tbs vanilla extract (the real stuff)
- blender and a strainer or milk bag, and a bowl
- 1/2 gallon mason jar for storage, or a glass pitcher with air tight cover
- Place coconut, vanilla and hot water (not boiling) in a blender
- Carefully turn on the blender and slowly increase the speed, make sure that you have the blender cover on tight, and a towel over it so that you don’t burn your hands if hot water seeps out…blend for at least 2-3 min…
- Strain the liquid into a bowl over a strainer or a milk bag, be sure to push out all the liquid out.
- Pour into a jar and store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. It won’t be hard to use it up fast because it is sooo yummy, especially in smoothies!
Feel free to play with the consistency, you can make it thinner or thicker in consistency just by adding more water, or using less, it really just depends on what you are using it for. Don’t freak if the fat separates after it cools,this is perfectly normal, just make sure to shake it up real good before using.
Alright well enjoy and have a great week folks and give homemade coconut milk a try. Not only is it healthier and super easy to make but you also will save some cash!
Eat & have a milky day,
Chris Kesser / The Healthy Home Economist / Natural News / Dr. Granny