Photography by Chia Chong
Coconuts aren't reserved for vacations any longer. Fresh coconuts can be found at many specialty grocery stores, but you need to know a few things to get the kind of coconut you are looking for. They’re packed with heart-healthy fats, fiber, and coconut water is a great source of electrolytes.
If you want to try adding this nut-fruit to your diet, there are a few things you need to know. First, there are two types of coconuts: young coconuts and mature coconuts. Young coconuts have a green shell in their natural state, however most stores remove the husk to reveal a white cone-shaped nut. These have the most coconut water and their soft flesh that can be almost transparent. As the coconut ages, the flesh inside will become firmer and an opaque white color. Mature coconuts have a brown husk, and look like the ones in our photos.
How to Open a Coconut
So you bought your first coconut, now what? Obviously, the next step is to open it up and get to the healthy goodness inside. Don’t be intimidated by the coconut’s hard outer shell, you don’t need any special tools to get in there, we promise!
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
- Look for the soft eye on the coconut (there are three eyes, one is softer when pushed on than the other two) and puncture it with a sharp object. We use a screwdriver although an ice pick also works great. Once you have punctured the coconut, twist the screwdriver around in the hole you’ve made to create a larger opening for the coconut water to be poured out.
- Shake and pour the coconut water out of the coconut. Give it a taste, it should be sweet and light. If not, then your coconut is probably rotten and should be thrown away or cleaned out to make fun bowls. (Pro-tip - Mix in coconut water into your drinking water for your post workout rehydration).
- Place in the preheated oven just until the coconut shell starts to crack a bit (about 15 minutes).
- Gently hit the side of the coconut (where a crack is present) to open the coconut.
- Use a knife to separate the shell from the coconut meat. Lastly, use a kitchen peeler, to remove the skin, and that’s it!
Popular Coconut Products
In addition to raw coconuts, there are a few other coconut products you might consider adding to your diet. Here are a few that are nice complements to a healthy diet and can even help with weight-loss.
- Coconut Oil - What doesn’t coconut oil do? It seems like coconut oil is a miracle product that can be used for everything from makeup removal to furniture polish. When shopping for coconut oil, we recommend looking for unrefined, organic coconut oil. This type has the most MCTs, nutrients and antioxidants.
- Coconut Water - This breakout beverage is loved by athletes for its high electrolyte content. Coconut water is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants, and several important minerals. Consider using it to refuel after a workout or as a bas in your morning smoothie.
- Coconut Milk - For people who are allergic or intolerant to dairy products, coconut milk can be a good substitute. It is naturally gluten-free as well and tastes delicious. Be careful though because although it contains healthy fats, coconut milk can be high in fat and is about 154 calories for 100ml. Coconut milk is ideal in moderation, and makes a great all-natural coffee creamer.
- Coconut Butter - If you’re really serious about coconuts, you might want to try coconut butter. Similar to ghee, this butter is essentially clarified coconut (including some of the fibrous parts of the meat as well). Making your own coconut butter is simple, all you need is a food processor and some coconut flakes. It can be used as a spread just as you would regular butter, get ready for some intense coconut flavor!
- Coconut Flakes - We like to think of these as all-natural ‘sprinkles’ that you can put on just about anything. You can usually find coconut flakes in the dry-bin area of your super market or online.
- Coconut Flour - Coconut flour is a good gluten-free flour alternative and is often loved by people following the Paleo diet as well because it is Paleo compliant. It is high in fiber, protein and healthy fats while being low on the glycemic index.
Ready to get cooking with coconuts? Check out our recipes for Shrimp Coconut Curry Soup and Vegan Pumpkin & Coconut Mousse.
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