There’s a gorgeous dessert on the table right in front of you at the restaurant. The skinny girl who ordered it, is mercilessly wolfing it down and you’re wondering how is she that size and eating like that? You are tempted to order the same dessert, but you can’t as you’re on a diet and having a dessert like that is just not an option besides having to go though the guilt trip of consuming empty and unhealthy calories is worse. Hmmm now you might want to re think that. You will be surprised, that these days you can have much better tasting and looking desserts that are not only healthy and fit into your diet, but also are beneficial to you.
Now lets take for example a dessert made from this wonder fruit that grows in tropical countries, and has been for centuries feeding millions of people. I’m talking of the “Coconut”. Every part of this fruit, starting from the tree trunk, to leaves, the sap, to every part of the fruit – inside and outside, is used by us humans. And this miraculous gift is well known for its nutritious qualities. It is enriched with vitamins and minerals. The fruit provides a whole lot of useful and healing properties, and every element of the coconut that can be used into making healthy dishes, both sweet and savoury. Let me share a few benefits of this gift of a fruit, so you may find a way to include it in your diet.
- Coconut Milk : Besides helping lower cholesterol levels, improving blood pressure, and preventing heart attacks or a stroke, this creamy and naturally lightly sweetened coconut milk is actually very delicious and completely free from dairy, lactose, soy, nuts or grains. It’s a good option for anyone allergic to dairy and nut- or grain-based milks, plus it’s vegan and good for plant-based eate It is high in saturated fat; however, because of healthy fiber, and heart-healthy antioxidants, and medium-chain triglycerides, it is a good source of energy and a fast-metabolizing source of healthy fats. Creamed coconut and coconut milk are made in a way surprisingly akin to their dairy counterparts. Coconut flesh (the white part) is grated and soaked in hot water. The coconut cream rises to the top and can be skimmed off. The remaining liquid is squeezed through a cheesecloth to extract a white liquid that is coconut milk. By repeating this process, the coconut milk becomes thinner. The thicker version is used for desserts such as panna cotta, puddings, mousse or smoothies and rich sauces. Thin coconut milk is used for cooking curries and soups.
- Coconut Flour: Coconut flour is high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats and is free from wheat and other grains. It is also low in sugar, digestible carbohydrates and calories, and has a low score on the glycemic index. This makes coconut flour a favorite amongst paleo dieters, gluten free eaters including those with Celiac Disease or a gluten sensitivity, anyone with a nut allergy, those with diabetes, vegetarians, and just about everyone who fancies it. Coconut flour is made by baking white, firm part of the coconut that you would find if you cracked open the fresh coconut . The meat is separated from the shell and baked at a low temperature to dry it out and create a powdery flour made entirely of coconut. Coconut flour can be used in baking , making pancakes, cakes, muffins, waffles, bagels; can be used to thicken gravys or soups as well.
- Coconut Flesh : Coconut flesh has some amazing benefits. It helps prevention of fat storage in our body and fights abdominal weight gain, it helps prevent onset of neurological diseases. Eating coconut flesh appears to protect against heart disease and stroke as well. It is armed with amino acids and protein and is a great source of dietary iron. The flesh is so versatile that it can be eaten raw – fresh, cooked, dried or as a preserve. You could eat it the fresh creamy – jelly like flesh by scooping it out of the young coconut with a sppon, or have the slightly thinker flesh on top of your usual salads with by shredding/grating and lightly toasted it. You can use a blender to make it into smoothies as well, mixed with organic yogurt and topped with fruits you like. You can make simple coconut chutney by blending together fresh shredded coconut meat, ginger, fresh mint and coriander leaves, garlic, green chilli, lime juice, and coconut milk in a bowl.
- Coconut Oil : If you come to think of there are over a 100 things you could do with coconut oil. The benefits it gives are probably just as many. To name a few , coconut oil is good for
People with heart disease
For weight loss
Good for the Kidney, pancreas & Liver
Excellent for people on a diet as it aids weight loss
To include it in your diet , you could substitute it with your regular cooking oil. Pan fry your food in a spoon of coconut oil, use it in salads, use it in baking cakes or making desserts. It substitutes well for butter and shortening in recipes, and works well as a plant-based replacement for vegan and gluten free recipes.
All said, coconut is high in fat, so do control the “amount” you consume. Keep in mind that all high-fat foods and oils are calorically dense and simply adding in more calorically dense food to a diet, already ample in calories is not likely to result in weight loss.
The key to everything in life is balance.
And having said that, a single portion of this delicate dainty and elegant coconut panna cotta is just about the healthiest desert you can get your hands on. Like all my recipes, this too is made in a heartbeat. Extremely simple and very rewarding.
For the Coconut Panna Cotta
15 ounce can coconut cream
1/4th cup Jaggery sugar
1 Vanilla Bean
1 3/4 th tsp Gelatin
2 tbsp water
The panda cotta recipe is fairly simple. To start with, in a small bowl sprinkle gelatin over the water and stir. Set it aside.In a small sauce pan heat the coconut milk, jaggery and vanilla bean to a boil. Strain coconut milk into a mixing bowl. Whisk in as much as a quarter cup of the coconut milk into the gelatin to melt. Pour gelatin mixture into the remaining coconut milk. Strain once again to make sure there are no lumps in there. Pour into desired old and chill in refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours.
For the Raspberry and Rose Water Syrup
250 gms fresh raspberries + extra for garnish
1/2 tbsp jaggery sugar ( optional and as per taste )
2 tbsp Rose Water
Rose petals to garnish
Soak all the ingredients together for 10 mins. Lightly simmer in a pan, till the raspberries begin to break down. and the syrup begins to bubble. Take off the heat and cool. Blend in the mixer till smooth. Pass through a sieve and collect in a pouring bowl.
Once you have unmolded the panna cotta, pour over or around and serve.