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coconut oil

I know I’ve discussed my passion for coconut oil in the past on this blog. But, I was given an opportunity to check out another brand of coconut oil and was excited to see the differences between Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil and the Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil that I have previously reviewed. Both products, according to their websites, are produced in a very similar fashion – cold-pressed, made from organic materials, and without the use of any harsh chemicals.

I didn’t find any terribly obvious difference between the two products, except for perhaps the aroma and the price. Here’s a comparison list between the two products –

Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil

PROS: melts very fast; comes in an elegant glass jar; is made by hand on small family farms;  looks more like oil, than shortening; did not smell strongly of coconut when cooking.

CONS: higher price ($29.50 for one-quart size), but they do offer sales and savings on shipping sporadically; have to buy a shopping membership in order to purchase from them.

Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil –

PROS: lower price (2-pack of 54 oz. jars is $46.50 from Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program, with free shipping); has a slight coconut aroma (some people like this, some don’t); large jar makes it easy to scoop product out for cooking.

CONS: does have coconut aroma (I don’t mind it for most things, but sometimes it does seem to interfere with other flavors in the dish I’m preparing); looks more like shortening (in color); melts slowly; comes in a plastic container; probably mass-produced.

Here’s a short video that Tropical Traditions provided me about their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:

Overall, I think the Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil is more of a gourmet version while the Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is more of a generic coconut oil. I’m interested in hearing if you have used either of these coconut oil products and if you see any difference between them. Please comment below!

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

 

french_toast_for_monkeys

I have a monkey living with me, his name is Nicholas; he looks like a boy, but since he eats so many bananas I often call him “my monkey.” Well, that and his interest in climbing trees, play structures…you get the idea! My monkey keeps asking for new breakfast ideas from me. So, I decided to try transforming banana bread into french toast. The banana bread recipe is from a wonderful blog called Comfy Belly and then I modified a french toast recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 15th Edition (Better Homes & Gardens Plaid).  The experiment was a delicious success, I’m happy to report!

French Toast for Monkeys (Nicholas Rating = 100 Thumbs Up!)

Ingredients –

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup coconut milk (from carton)

2 Tbsp white sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

8 slices of  banana bread (see link below)

 2 – 4 Tbsp coconut oil for cooking the french toast

1. Make the Banana Bread Recipe (courtesy of Comfy Belly). Let it cool completely, or make it the night before. Slice it into thick slices.

2. In a shallow mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3. Dip banana bread slices into the mixture and let it soak in for about 10 seconds per side.

4. In a skillet or griddle, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add 2-3 pieces of banana bread at a time and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining slices, adding more coconut oil to skillet if needed.

5. Serve warm with maple syrup or honey!

GF_coconut_shrimp_mango_curry

This week’s recipe is up at Stockpiling Moms: Gluten-Free Coconut Shrimp with Mango Curry Dip.  This recipe is a wonderful appetizer and can be served up elegantly (see photo above). The tropical flavors really do scream summer. I made this for myself for lunch this past week and it was so light and tasty. Nicholas doesn’t eat seafood, so I’ll just have to rate this one myself. I’d give it at least 100 Thumbs Up! Hope you enjoy it too!

gluten free cinnamon buns

Before I went gluten-free, I used to enjoy the Morning Buns at Starbuck’s Coffee. Not only were they a wonderful compliment to a cup of coffee, but Nicholas enjoyed eating one as a snack too! That all changed when we went gluten-free and casein-free. Until now, since I’ve almost replicated the flavors in this tasty Gluten-Free Cinnamon Bun; adapted from a recipe called “Cinnamon Butter Puffs” in The Breakfast Book. Nicholas agreed that the flavors and moistness of the muffin are an amazing resemblance to the Starbuck’s Morning Bun. Hope you enjoy them too!

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Buns (Nicholas Rating = 1 Trillion Thumbs Up!!)

canola oil spray

1/3 c organic vegetable shortening

1/2 c white sugar

5 eggs

1 c almond meal

1/2 c coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 c coconut milk (from the carton)

Topping –

1/2 c melted coconut oil

1/2 c white sugar combined with 1 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins with canola oil spray.

2. Beat together shortening, sugar, and eggs in mixing bowl. Add flours, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg and mix thoroughly.

3. Add milk and beat until blended and smooth.

4. Fill muffin tins about 2/3 full. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into muffin comes out clean.

5. For the topping, have melted coconut oil ready in one bowl and another bowl with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

6. Once muffins are cooked, remove them from muffin tin and dip them individually first into coconut oil and then roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

7. These taste fantastic while they are still warm, or reheat them if you need to for a later meal.

coconut quick bread

I adapted this fantastic breakfast bread from this recipe. Since we can no longer use even regular, gluten-free flour at our house, I’ve had to adapt some recipes even further. (Gluten-free flour is a good product, but it has rice in it and my son has had to remove rice from his diet.) So, since we really enjoyed this quick bread when I made it before with the GF Flour, I thought I’d try to make it with a combination of coconut flour and almond meal.  It worked beautifully and Nicholas and I agreed this version is even better than the previous one! Just a note – we have never made it with the glaze that is suggested in the original recipe. Please post any thoughts or comments if you try this bread and DO make the glaze!

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Coconut Orange Quick Bread

(Nicholas Rating = 100 Thumbs Up!) 

1 cup almond meal

1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp coconut flour

1 cup white sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

grated zest of 1 medium orange

3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

3/4 cup canned coconut milk

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

5 large eggs

fresh squeezed juice from 1 medium orange

1. Grease one 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. Mix almond meal, coconut flour, white sugar, baking soda, salt, orange zest and shredded unsweetened coconut in a large bowl. Use a whisk to thoroughly combine.

3. Add the coconut milk, olive oil, eggs, and orange juice and mix until well blended.

4. Using a spatula, scrape out batter into the loaf pan. Let batter set, uncovered for about 30 minutes. While batter is resting, preheat oven to 350.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 60-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Set the loaf pan on a cooling rack and let cool at least 30 minutes before removing from the pan.

6. Remove bread from pan and allow to cool on wireless rack for another 30 minutes.

7. Wrap bread in parchment or plastic and refrigerate or freeze.

A few posts back, I mentioned that I really have enjoyed getting to know the many uses for Coconut Oil.  Well, I am now exploring the many benefits of Coconut Flour, too! Since Nicholas can not have rice or beans or potatoes right now, we don’t have too many options left for creating any type of baked goods.  That is, until I discovered Coconut Flour!

According to Bob’s Red Mill

Coconut flour is a delicious, healthy alternative to wheat and other grain flours. It is very high in fiber, low in digestible carbohydrates, a good source of protein and gluten-free. It lends baked goods an incomparably rich texture and a unique, natural sweetness.

It is all those things, but it is also quite tricky to work with in your recipes! I’ve been finding that it takes about 5 eggs for every 1 cup of coconut flour because it is such a dense flour.  I have found some wonderful recipes for muffins over at Comfy Belly, that I strongly encourage you to try out.  I will also be posting a pound cake recipe shortly that I made with coconut flour.

As with all the specialty flours, it’s not cheap to purchase.  I’ve started ordering mine through Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program, because it’s very reasonable.  It’s best to keep the flour in either the refrigerator or freezer so that it stays fresh.

As I’ve mentioned before, I use Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program. So, I was very excited to find a really good Coconut Oil available for a wonderful price through the program.  I now have two large jars of it – heaven! I think I signed up for a shipment every three months, we’ll see if I make it that long, since I do love using my Coconut Oil for just about everything! Watch for more recipes with Coconut Oil in them….

Part of cooking the GFCF way involves trying a lot of alternative products to either enhance or replace products you have cooked with in the past. The trial and error process is always an interesting one, especially when you find a product you really enjoy.  For me, my newest product that I love is coconut oil. The brand I have been using is Nature’s Way  and I found it in a local health food store. When I first heard about it, I thought it sounded incredibly decadent and impractical.  Now, I’m finding I want to cook most everything with it! The best part is that it is really healthy for you too.  I wish you could smell it through this blog post, though, because it would make your mouth water!

coconutBut, like I said, it’s very healthy too.  Coconut oil can help with hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc. (Source: Organic Facts.)

There is actually a Coconut Research Center that has extensive information about the health benefits of coconut and coconut oil. As they state on their website, coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils available.  I encourage you to start trying it in your recipes. Or, even just using it to fry up an egg or some sausage.  It adds such a nice flavor, not too overpowering, just a pleasant coconut flavor with a lot of depth that olive oil just doesn’t have. Try it and I bet you’ll fall in love too….

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