Thai Green Coconutty Adventures!

Product Reviews

 

Opened Coconut_JustyCinMD_Flickr

Photo: Opened Coconut By: JustyCinMD_Flickr

For some, coconuts and coconut products are consumed on a daily basis, particularly for those living in subtropical areas around the globe where it is cheap and plentiful; they will probably also learn how to cut a coconut open from fairly youngish age? Who knows… but we think the that idea of hacking into a standard/matured brown coconut can be a little daunting!

We both have memories of adults needing a hammer (or rolling pin and chisel) to open it’s hard exterior; allowing you to pour out what seemed to be a worthless amount of water, followed by an extended period of time to remove its meaty flesh. #palava

Question: How often do you eat fresh coconuts and why?

 

 

Coconut face_Tree_Specles_flickr

Photo: Coconut face_Tree By: Specles_flickr

“Coconut (Cocos nucifera) belongs to the Palm family (Arecaceae). Grown in abundance in Malaysia, Polynesia and southern Asia, Spanish explorers named the cocos – meaning ‘grinning face’, because of the three little eyes on the base which they thought resembled a monkey. Classed as a fruit and frequently confused for being a nut, the coconut is actually a one-seeded drupe. ” . (1)

 

 

Of course sometimes nature makes us work for things, but it can also supply us with easier alternatives…such as Thai Green/baby/young coconuts! They have more water as in the mature ones it’s replaced by the white flesh. So if you have a craving for a refreshing coconutty drink, these are the ones to go for!

There was probably just over a cup of water, maybe 300ml in each of our coconuts; it’s hard to say as hacking these open was thirsty work (j/k!) so we didn’t bother measuring it! It’s good to note that this volume (and the quantity of coconut meat) will probably vary, depending on the size of the fruit (oh sorry, we meant drupe!).

All of this coconut water is great for rehydrating, especially because it’s rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, including important electrolytes: potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium.(2) These electrolytes are vital for the health our muscular, cardiovascular, nervous and immune systems, as well as to help with the absorption and balance of the body’s internal fluids.

Coconut water is not a miracle drink, but a natural and healthful one; one study showed that coconut water is just as effective for rehydration as other carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drinks. Whilst on the topic of sports drinks, it’s good to note that the majority of people do not sweat enough through regular exercise to warrant buying manufactured sports drinks (laden in added sugars!); ideally they are designed for elite athletes that are exercising more than an hour a day. Erm but even then, how many Olympians do you see drinking Gatorade or Lucozade Sport?!

Anyways, let’s move on with our coconutty adventures…

 

Thai Green Coconuts!

We’ve previously read that once these coconuts are harvested, their outer green husk is removed, they are shaped for easy access and handling and then finally wrapped in plastic to help keep in the moisture.

 

Oh and labelled…complete with easy instructions on how to access its sweet water and flesh, but how easy was it?!

 

Pre-Step One

Buy the coconuts! Please note that standard/matured ‘brown’ coconuts are generally a lot cheaper. Our duo pack costed £3.50 (at ASDA of all places, who’da thunk it?!). For lovers of coconut water but not so much the meat, this seemed a little pricey… but it’s a novelty and we’re not going to experience a cheaper one on a Thailand beach anytime soon! Make sure to thoroughly inspect them (as you would any other expensive piece of merchandise!); only in this instance check for mould, cracks, leaks and/or soft spots.

As you can clearly see above, the best before states: consume within 3 days of purchase; it’s been two weeks since we purchased ours! Perhaps we’ve lost a few nutrients, but ours still tasted fresh and down right delicious!

 

Step 1

Give yourself ample room to work with (safety first folks!). Place the coconut on it’s side, then whilst keeping a firm grip you’ll need to hack into and saw off the top; the directions recommend using a ‘sharp chef’s knife’. Even without a really ‘chefy’ knife, this step was easy enough; the outer, white, husky skin is very ‘manageable’. Tip: If the husk is really thick, you’ll have to make your first cut further away from the tip to help expose the hard brown shell; our first cut was about one inch below the tip.

 

Step 2

Whilst still keeping a firm grip, chisel or hack the husk down to expose the top of the brown shell (which is again manageable). The more experienced you are with this, the less mess you will make! Tip: Lie the coconut on its side or keep it upright, whatever you feel most comfortable with.

 

Steps 3 & 4

Alex attempting this without glasses or even a morning cup of coffee!

This is where the fun begins (not really)! It’s advised that you have to hit the brown shell at a 45 degree angle (whilst upright) with the edge of your knife, preparing grooves or a substantial cut in order to be able to lever off the top! Sound simple? Well, if you do not have a sharp (or large) enough knife (because it’s not worth damaging your standard kitchen knives over) or lack strength, then it really isn’t! #nomeatcleaversinthishouse

Unlike this guy…

Photo: Coconut Man By: Christian Senger_Flickr

Photo: Coconut Man By: Christian Senger_Flickr

…straight from the local trees, onto his chopping block and hacking it like a boss!

 

We preformed this step by using two methods; firstly by utilising its recommended approach and then secondly by using an impromptu, quirky but highly effective method! It just goes to show that you don’t need to use anything too sharp.. in fact if your strong and brave enough, you could probably use a simple dinner/butter knife!

Tip: You might need safety glasses for the first approach… husky splinters were known to fly everywhere!

The first approach produced this…

 

 

The second approach was quicker (well at least for us), safer and produced a much wider opening. Perhaps you can try using the latter; a bread knife and rolling pin! Sounds daft but as you’ll see in our (above) 60 second video; it made step three and four easy and simultaneous. It’s also good to note that we didn’t really spill any of the liquid!

***Please excuse our amateur video skills!***

 

Step 5 (The Sweetest Step!)

The product advises topping with a straw and a festive umbrella… erm yeah, we were fresh out of the latter (obviously!)… and our orchid didn’t flower this year, so we still couldn’t fake the much needed ambiance!

So all there was left to do was simply enjoy it’s sweet nectar and imagine being somewhere warm, without grey and murky skies…that we are so fortunate to have in the UK! 😦

Photos: Hammock and coconuts_ Les Salines Beach_Carribean Sea_Martinique By: lo lo_flickr

Photos: Hammock and coconuts, Les Salines Beach, Carribean Sea, Martinique By: lo lo_flickr

 

Our closing thoughts…

There are loads of health claims around coconut water (or coconut products for that matter), subsequently encasing them with the term ‘superfood’… but as we have previously mentioned here, ‘superfoods’ do not exist.

Taste, Price & Value:

Alex found the coconut flesh quite bland while I found it to be quite sweet. Additionally, the flesh was very creamy and jelly-like (living up to its nickname ‘jelly-nut’), it can easily be removed from its shell and tasted absolutely delicious in our morning bowl of porridge (definitely a step up from your standard desiccated coconut topping)!

Although healthful, refreshing and the water having a much sweeter taste than most standard cartons of coconut water, it is pricey (but its no surprise as it is imported). You can buy approx. 500ml of unsweetened/pure coconut water for about the same price as one of these coconuts!

You shouldn’t feel obligated to buy coconuts. If you love them, great; as we have mentioned above, a well balanced diet can provide you with all of the same essential nutrients that are found in coconuts. #nosuperfoods. So unless you desire fresh coconut water and/or meat, or a novelty cup for your next summer party (which sounds AWESOME btw), stick to purchasing cartons of (organic?) unsweetened/natural coconut water, preferably ones that do not contain any added bits of fruit, pesticides or husk!

 

Sources:
1.BBC Good Foods
2.USDA
3.NCBI

 

*Disclaimer: We have not been paid for this product review and all thoughts and opinions are our own.
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Thai Red Curry With Tofu

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 4
Prep & Cooking time: 50-60 minutes

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & K, protein, fibre, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. 

This is not an authentic Thai red curry recipe…not by a mile! This recipe is more about helping to meet your ‘5-A-Day’ and still being able to enjoy all the lovely Thai flavours without consuming ridiculous amounts of fat! Instead of tinned coconut milk (which is typically seen in this recipe), I used a small amount of creamed coconut, mixed with DF milk, vegetable stock and corn starch to help keep a similar consistency and some of the flavour!  I also added extra lemongrass, garlic, ginger (in addition to the curry paste) to enhance the curry flavours.

As I have mentioned previously, coconut products contain nearly 90% saturated fats- so its obviously not exactly the ‘healthier’ choice!  So with any high fat/sugar food or meal, either have a bit of what you love (in small portions and in moderation of course!) or try a reduced fat version such as this! 

This recipe can be served as a curry or a soup (just omit the corn starch and halve the quantity of rice if you prefer soup)!

Quick fact:
Per serving, this recipe provides approximately 3 of your ‘5-A-DAY’!

Galagnal root comes from the same family as ginger root but their flavours are slightly different! Ginger root has a warm, spicy taste while as galagnal adds a spicy, peppery element to Thai cooking! Use both or or just one of the roots in this recipe if your prefer!

 

*Based on 4 servings, this recipe provides approximately:

<500kcal, 12g fat and 4.5g s/fat/ serving. 

*NB: A standard veggie Thai red curry could easily contain twice the amount of fats! To reduce the fat content: make your own curry paste, use slightly less tofu and do not use the nuts.

 

Ingredients:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++260g    Firm Tofu
+++++++++++++++++++++++++              1kcal Fry Spray (low-fat cooking oil)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++100g     Spring onion
+++++++++++++++++++++++++4g         Garlic cloves
+++++++++++++++++++++++++16g       Galangal Root
+++++++++++++++++++++++++40g       Ginger Root
+++++++++++++++++++++++++16g       Lemongrass (=1 stick)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++140g     Red bell pepper
+++++++++++++++++++++++++70g       Carrot
+++++++++++++++++++++++++300g     Sweet potato
+++++++++++++++++++++++++100g     Chestnut mushrooms
+++++++++++++++++++++++++60g        Baby spinach
+++++++++++++++++++++++++10g        Fresh coriander
+++++++++++++++++++++++++55g        Lime, zest & juice (=1 lime)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++20g        Thai red curry paste
+++++++++++++++++++++++++250ml   Vegetable stock (low-sodium/DF/GF)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++250ml   Soya milk (unsweetened)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++400g      Tin chopped plum tomatoes
+++++++++++++++++++++++++20g         Creamed coconut
+++++++++++++++++++++++++60g         Brown basmati rice/person
+++++++++++++++++++++++++16g         Corn starch
+++++++++++++++++++++++++4g            Peanuts, (unsalted) (optional)

 

Directions:

Open and drain the tofu. Place it between two heavy chopping boards for approximately 30 minutes to remove any excess water.

 

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F. Line a baking tray with some parchment paper or a silicone mat; lightly spray it with some low-fat cooking oil.

 

In the meantime, wash, trim the ends and finely chop the onion. Peel and mince the garlic. Wash, peel and chop the galangal into fine sticks. Wash, peel and grate the ginger. Wash and trim the ends off the lemongrass; bash it slightly with a rolling pin to soften the leaves, remove the outer leaves and discard the ‘hard core’ (if preferred) and then finely slice it.

NB: I only used shallots because it came with a vegetable kit I bought. Do not feel obligated too! I did not remove the inner/hard core… but you might find this will not soften during cooking and add a ‘crunchy’ element to your curry…which you might not enjoy!

 

Wash, remove the stem, de-seed and finely slice the bell pepper. Wash, trim the ends, peel and chop the carrot into ‘match-stick’ pieces. Wash, peel and chop the potato into small, bite-sized pieces. Wash, dry and slice the mushrooms.

 

Wash and drain the spinach. Wash, dry and roughly chop the coriander.

 

Wash, zest and juice the lime.

 

Meanwhile, drain and chop the tofu into bite-sized pieces. Place it onto the baking sheet. Lightly spray it with some low-fat cooking oil. Place it into the oven. Bake for approximately 26 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove. (NB: I baked my tofu slightly less than I normally would as I prefer ‘softer’ pieces in the curry).

NB: Refer to my previous recipes if you require visual guidance for this step.

 

In the meantime, heat a large, non-stick saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add some low-fat cooking oil. Add the onion, garlic, galangal, ginger and lemongrass. Stir together. Gently fry for 1-2 minutes.

NB: I added ‘3sprays’ of my oil= 3 calories and 0.3g fat!

 

Add the bell pepper, carrot, potato and mushrooms. Stir together. Add some more low-fat cooking oil if necessary. Gently fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

Add the curry paste. Stir to coat. Gently fry for a further minute or until fragrant.

 

Add the stock, milk, tomatoes and creamed coconut. Stir together. Bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

 

In the meantime, cook the rice according to the packet instructions (if applicable). Drain.

 

Meanwhile, create a slurry (if applicable). Add the cornstarch to a small dish. Add equal parts water and stir until dissolved.

 

Finely crush/chop the nuts (if using).

 

Add the slurry (if applicable). Stir to combine. Continue stirring until slightly thickened.

 

Add the spinach, coriander, 1/2 the quantity of the zest and the juice. Stir together. Cover with a lid. Allow the spinach to wilt slightly.

 

Add the tofu. Stir to combine.

 

Place the rice into a large serving bowl (if applicable). Ladle over the curry. Garnish with the remaining lime zest, fresh coriander and crushed nuts if desired.

 

Enjoy!

If preferred…

  • Alternatively, serve over thick rice or buckwheat soba noodles.
  • Prepare your own Thai red curry paste.
  • Vary your vegetables! Try: pak choi, baby corn, green beans, mange tout, water chestnuts, butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower, fresh chillies, Kaffir leaves, or maybe even some shredded kale.