No doubt about it, the coconut has reached cult status in health circles. Take the market for coconut water, for example, which went from almost nonexistent to worth $400 million and growing in a handful of years. The NMDL set would probably argue that the real star is coconut oil. Whether you’re smearing it on your skin or baking with it in the kitchen, you probably have a good sense for how coconut oil works for you. It’s familiar now, a no-brainer. That’s why I was quite curious when I ran across another coconut product at the grocery store last year — coconut butter.
The coconut version of peanut or almond butter? Yes! Unfortunately, the single serving packet of coconut butter I discovered at the store was over $4. It felt a little extravagant somehow, maybe because I’d already placed a $6 bar of fair trade, organic chocolate in my basket. So I got the bright idea to make my own coconut butter. Turns out, all you really need is raw shredded coconut and a food processor or blender. So I set that single serving packet back on the shelf, moseyed over to the bulk dry goods bins and bagged up a pound of shredded coconut for less than $5. Best idea ever.
Three reasons to love coconut butter:
- Coconut butter includes the whole flesh of the coconut, so you’re getting protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are not found in the oil alone.
- One tablespoon of coconut butter has 3 grams of fiber. That’s good for the tummy.
- Coconut butter is about 60% oil, so you’re getting the health benefits of coconut oil, including the boost to your immune system thanks to lauric acid, and the energy that comes with eating healthy fats.
Three ways to use coconut butter besides eating by the spoonful:
- Split a ripe banana, smear coconut butter on each half, sprinkle with raw cacao nibs, a pinch of sea salt and eat either open-faced or like a sandwich.
- Add it to a smoothie. Bananas, mango, or avocado all make good pairings.
- Spread on top of a waffle for a quick snack. I love buckwheat toaster waffles as a great gluten-free alternative.
For the perfect coconut butter recipe (it’s more of a tutorial), check out this post from the Kitchn.
What are your favorite ways to eat coconut butter? Would you make your own or buy it?
Hot smoothie what? Yes, it sounds a little weird, but stick with us on this one. The Chalkboard Mag is one of our go-to sources for great recipes and information on wellness. This recipe caught our attention because it’s chock full of good-for-you ingredients, but it can also satisfy that longing for a warm, sweet cup of hot cocoa that some of us may indulge in more than we’d like to admit during the cold dark winter mornings. Check out the recipe below and read more about the Cozy Hot Chocolate Smoothie over on the Chalkboard Mag.
1 ripe banana
1 1/2 tsp raw cacao powder
1 tsp chia seeds
1 vanilla bean, halved and seeded
2 ripe dates, pitted (medjool or halawi work well, or substitute some honey if preferred)
1 cup boiling water, or tea of your choice
1/2 tsp cinnamon, plus a pinch for garnish
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Be sure to let boiling water or tea cool slightly, and pour in carefully! Blend until smooth, garnish with the leftover vanilla bean pod and a pinch of cinnamon, and enjoy!
Thanks for the inspiration Chalkboard Mag! OK, your turn. Tell us where you get your Meatless Monday ideas.
What sweetener have you been using to bake holiday treats and cookies this year? If you didn’t say “coconut sugar”, we’re about to give you a reason to make the switch. This low-glycemic alternative to sugar is nutrient dense, sustainable, and tastes like caramel. Here’s what you should know:
Coconut sugar is considered a low glycemic sweetener, so your blood sugar won’t spike as much as it would with cane sugar after eating it. It has a glycemic index score of 35 (out of 100, with anything under 55 considered low).
Coconut sugar has vitamins and minerals! Yes! Vitamins and minerals. It’s a rich source of potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. It’s also full of vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6. To give you an idea of its nutrient content, coconut sugar has 36 times more iron than regular brown sugar and over ten times the amount of zinc.
Coconut sugar is a sustainable crop. It’s produced from the sap of the cut flower buds of coconut palms. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the World Bank reports that coconut palm sweeteners are the single most sustainable sweetener in the world. Coconut palms produce 50-75% more sugar per acre than sugar cane, while at the same time using less than 20% of the soil nutrients and water for that level of production.
With the coconut craze still going strong, it’s no surprise that there is yet another healthy coconut product to add to your grocery list. Have you tried coconut sugar?
Hello friends! I am slowly coming back to reality after my monthlong yoga teacher training retreat. There’s much to share, but in two words: so good. (Oh, and so funny. My abs are still thanking me for the laughs I shared with my new pals.)
I know some of you have been considering doing a TTC program, and I couldn’t recommend it more. I did mine at The Sivananda Yoga Farm in Grass Valley, which is an absolutely amazing place as long as you’re someone who can get with being told what to do, eat, and wear for a month (and if you can roll with a little woo woo, like chanting the names of Hindu gods in Sanskrit and stuff). For this gal, it was a heaven—a total luxury to not think about anything other than my yoga practice.
Anyways, I’m back—and I’m full of beans! Literally and figuratively. And, probably not surprisingly, I’ve returned with a renewed verve for plant-based eating too. (And a serious plan to grow my own food—but more on that another time.)
As I’ve shared in the past, I was a 20-year vegetarian (and on-and-off vegan) until I encountered some health problems a few years back—which I now recognize as a hormonal imbalance due to stress and total energetic depletion. On the recommendation of several practitioners I started eating a little bit of well-sourced meat. It was the right move then, but over time a little bit turned into a little bit more. And if I’m being totally honest, I even started slipping on the sourcing thing sometimes.
But this month helped me reconnect in a big way with all the perks of eating plant foods: from the practice of ahimsa (non-violence) to being kinder to the environment, as well as the benefits to my own physical and spiritual health. It was part of our curriculum (and a final exam question!) to learn about and extol the virtues of a vegetarian diet. (Ok, so they never mentioned glowing skin—but we all know that’s a major plus too.)
And while I’m not swearing off meat entirely—keeping some flexibility around food is important to me, because I do think context can be everything—right now, I’m in a pretty deep love affair with lentils and most things that grow in the ground.
The best part? After years of bloating at the mere sight of raw vegetables and legumes, it seems I’ve finally figured out how to digest this good stuff! Here are my three tips to anyone else who’s had the best intentions to eat more greens but couldn’t quite stomach it…
1. Chew chew chew. I’d never given a whole lot of thought to chewing and tended to eat pretty quickly. But it turns out that chewing is a critical part of the digestive process—not least of all because it lets your saliva do its job—and the more of it you do, the easier a time your tummy will have. It also allows your intestines to absorb nutrients more efficiently; it’s good for your teeth; and it helps you to really enjoy the taste of your food and eat with more consciousness. How much chewing? One speaker on the retreat recommended chewing until you can drink your food. While some foods never quite liquify, it’s a helpful way to think about it.
2. When you eat, focus on eating. I took many of my meals in silence at the farm, sitting under a beautiful weeping willow tree by a pond. While regular life doesn’t generally afford such a picturesque environment, I find there’s a big difference in the way that I eat, chew and digest if I’m distracted by the TV, my computer, or even just conversation. I’m not saying to ignore your family at meal time, but I believe making a conscious effort to focus on the act of eating can be a boon for your body.
3. Snack consciously. I can be a total grazer, and it almost always results in indigestion for me—especially if I throw something down unconsciously around 4pm. So now I’m trying to treat snacks like meals—if I want one, I put it on a plate, sit down, and eat it with awareness. It seems to help!
How much thought do you give to the wheres and hows of eating and chewing? Oh, and happy Meatless Monday!
Let’s talk about clean food, shall we? Specifically, let’s talk about selecting the cleanest of clean foods. The Environmental Working Group is a research and advocacy organization whose mission is dear to our hearts. The EWG provides public information on the health issues associated with toxic chemicals in consumer products. You may know them best for their invaluable cosmetics database, Skin Deep, which indexes and scores products based on their ingredients. (If we had a dime for every time one of us looked up a product or ingredient using Skin Deep…) But did you know that the EWG has been instrumental in bringing awareness to food safety issues as well?
While the EWG believes that the health benefits of eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risk of pesticide exposure, they are doing what they can to help consumers make the best, most informed choices. Maybe you’ve heard of the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, which highlights the foods with the highest pesticide residue. Did you know that they also publish a Clean Fifteen list? Yep, this is the list of produce with the least pesticide residue.
You know we’re obsessed with clean beauty products, but the real secret to radiant skin is what goes into your belly. Try drinking green smoothies for a week and tell us you don’t see a difference when you look in the mirror. To that end, we are happy to have resources we trust to guide us. Life is busy, and simple tools like the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen help us make smart decisions quickly. So if you’re not already familiar with the EWG, take a look around, bookmark their site, and print out their lists for your shopping trips. Oh and by the way, we heard that a Skin Deep mobile app will be released this fall. Amazing!
Are you familiar with the Dirty Dozen or Clean Fifteen? What resources or tools do you love that we might not know about?