Before beginning the Autoimmune Protocol in 2014, I ate a lot of yoghurt. I preferred the tartness of plain, and I loved how light a breakfast or snack it created combined with fresh or cooked fruit and home-made granola or simply with wheat germ sprinkled on top. But since yoghurt in the traditional sense is no longer an option for me, the search was on for a comparable substitute for those days when cravings for past flavours and textures invaded the corners of my mind and vegetables simply would not do!
Enter coconut milk. I have found one of the best snacks (or super quick breakfast, if a less nutrient dense option) is seasonal fruit with coconut cream (coconut yoghurt would take this a step closer to the real deal, but I have yet to make any myself). Coconut cream is the thick, velvety portion of the milk that separates from the water – just like with dairy milk. The easiest way to acquire this is to place a can of coconut milk in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. I even keep a couple cans in the fridge at all times so I’m prepared! I use Aroy-D brand because even though it isn’t organic, it has zero fillers or additives to thicken it and is purely coconut cream and water – and it has a delicious flavour and luxurious texture. My second choice is organic Native Forest, but because of the added guar gum, it doesn’t separate as easily.
Nutritionally, coconut cream has some lovely saturated fatty acids which work in many ways to provide energy, immune support, and antioxidants. Fibre aids colon function*, and electrolytes aid hydration. It has a tiny bit of protein (but let’s face it, every bit counts!), and is a fairly good source of some essential vitamins and minerals.
Using seasonal fruit is beneficial for multiple reasons. Purchasing locally produced produce is even better. Fruit is never fresher than when it is in season! Fresher also equals tastier, juicier, and higher nutrients (especially if local!). It is also usually more economical and environmentally friendly due to less travel and less packaging (generally), and your money is more likely going directly to your farmers and producers instead of through gigantic corporations. Something to think about.
Coconut cream is also fabulous on grain-free granola, AIP date squares and rhubarb bars, or as a base for veggie dips. Put it in your bulletproof coffee, add it to soups instead of creme fraiche, and so much more. (But in moderation*, of course!)
I have compiled a few recipes and inspirations for your viewing pleasure – spring, summer, winter, or fall – these creations are gorgeous and scrumptious in all the right ways! Click on the links below the photos to be taken to the recipes and prepare to float away on a silky coconut dream.
Take your coconut cream up a notch or two with ginger, honey, mint…or try lemon zest!
Really take it to a whole other level with this amazing creation from Paleo Cupboard!
And for further coconut milk fun, here is a coconut yoghurt recipe to try from my dear friend and fellow AIP-er Hayley Stobbs.
*Note: I have had many people say to me things like: “I can’t tolerate […insert any super food here…]; I don’t know why – it’s supposed to be so healthy!” or “I get a rash when I use that – but it’s supposed to be so good for you, so I use it anyway”. Woah, say what??? It doesn’t matter if a food or ingredient turns some people into sparkly unicorns who live forever in the Fountain of Youth…if you react to something, stay away from it and don’t “feel bad”! We are all unique and we all sparkle when our unique care instructions are discovered and followed. Coconut cream obviously will not be a good ingredient substitute or beneficial fat source for you if you are either A) allergic to coconut, B) experience fructose malabsorption, or C) are using coconut products with additives such as sugar, guar gum, xanthan gum, titanium dioxide, or various other gut-irritating substances.
(For more on some of these points, read Chris Kresser’s helpful post here).
Example: I am an avocado fiend so, of course, the universe has decided “enough!”, and I can no longer tolerate it at the moment. I also can no longer tolerate raspberries, too much melon, or too much coconut milk (potentially fructose malabsorption, or just summertime cross-reactivity). Case in point – even the things you can tolerate in moderation may bite you in the butt if you go over board – listen to your body!