July 19, 2013

All About Coconut Milk


Coconut milk is the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a coconut. The color and rich taste of the milk can be attributed to the high oil content. Most of the fat is saturated fat. Coconut milk is a very popular food ingredient used in Southeast Asia. It is packed with B- vitamins and minerals. It comes in full-fat (regular), lite and organic blends.  I have tried many brands and so far I like Thai Kitchen best for my own uses (I am not being  paid or reimbursed for promoting Thai Kitchen brand coconut milk)!

Regular or Full-fat
 Full-Fat Canned Coconut Milk:
Decades ago, this was a hard-to-find specialty Asian ingredient.  Now almost every grocery store carries it.  Look for it in the ethnic section of your local grocery store, or online. Good brands will have a thick cream that separates and rises to the top. The more separation and thicker cream, the better the product.

Lite Canned Coconut Milk:
Lite coconut milk is simply full-fat with water added to it. You can save money when you want lite coconut milk by making your own. Just use one part full-fat canned coconut milk with two parts water. Lite coconut milk may be used in recipes as a substitute for half and half, but lite coconut milk isn’t quite as rich. 
Note:  Lite coconut milk will not separate to give you fluffier coconut cream that you get using full-fat.

Coconut Milk Beverage:
Do not confuse this low-fat milk-like drink with canned coconut milk.  Coconut milk beverages are made from coconut water.This is the clear liquid inside coconuts (fruits of the coconut palm). This is a milk alternative, and should be used as such for drinking or in recipes. It is sold in cartons in the refrigerated section or with other shelf-stable milk alternatives. If you are frugal, you can make your own by simply adding water to full-fat coconut milk. Coconut milk beverage can be used as a substitute for low fat or whole milk in a 1:1 ratio.

So what can you do with canned coconut milk?

This creamy goodness is perfect for everything from dinners to desserts. You can whip it into a non-dairy mousse, or create meat and fish marinades recipes. Coconut milk is so versatile!

You can empty a can of full-fat into a larger jar (like a mason jar) and put it in the fridge to chill. Use a fork to lightly whip or blend into a fluffy consistency. Although the 'fluff' won't last long but it works well as a topping or sauce for desserts - again dairy free and artificial ingredient free.

I use coconut milk (full-fat) in my coffee all the time. It's wonderful. I've made french toast (substituting lite coconut milk for regular milk) and no one knew the difference.  I know it's very high in fat but it has NO artificial ingredients, dairy-free.

A Few Of The MANY USES for Coconut Milk:

Salad Dressings -

 lo-cal (MY creation)
1/3 C. Lite coconut milk
1/4 Tsp. Dried Italian seasoning mix
1/4 Tsp. Dried garlic
Salt and pepper to taste.

This makes enough for one salad and it's 50 calories using the lite coconut milk.
It's easy and you can experiment with your favorite seasonings! I'm going to make poppy seed dressing using lite coconut milk for a fruit salad.
Coconut milk has such a light fresh flavor and aroma and it lends itself nicely to many other flavors so experiment away!

There are so many recipes coconut-milk-based salad dressings available to choose from!

Braising -
Coconut milk may not be the first ingredient you associate with meat, but it actually adds a sweet, delicious touch to the meal. Mix about ½ cup of coconut milk into the liquid of braising meat or chicken.  The milk absorbs the flavors of the dish and makes a creamy, full-flavored sauce.

Smoothies, Dairy Free -
In smoothie recipes you can replace the dairy called for with coconut milk!  Coconut blends well with most all whole fruit and veggies. Recipes and ideas for dairy-free smoothies is endless!

Yummy Ice cream!

There are many super-easy recipes available online for using coconut milk to make ice cream!

Cereal -
Use a combination of coconut milk and dairy or soy milk to enliven your everyday breakfast cereal. Try a ratio of roughly 2 parts dairy or soy milk to 1 part light coconut milk for a hint of sweetness and a surprisingly nice hint of nutty essence.

Lite Coconut milk can be substituted on a 1 cup to 1 cup basis with regular milk, soy milk, almond milk or rice milk.

Full-fat coconut milk can also be substituted on a 1 cup to 1 cup basis with whipped cream. When done in this fashion, also add about ½ tsp of vanilla extract for every cup substituted in this manner - sweeten to taste with any sweetener.

- Be sure and check out out post about coconut oil and coconut butter at Community Chickens -  http://communitychickens.blogspot.com/2013/07/about-coconut-oil-and-diy-for-coconut.html

 -and keep those chickens cool...

Liz ~