Tuesday, April 24, 2012

6 Uses of Coconut Milk

If you are anything like me, you have never given much thought to coconut milk.  Milk is milk, right?  And it comes from a cow.  But a few months ago, I discovered a wonderful addition to my diet in the form of coconut milk.  I was on a special diet prescribed by my doctor and could not have any dairy for 6 weeks.  Initially this seemed problematic for someone who uses milk almost on a daily basis.  However, a quick trip to Whole Foods proved that there are many milk substitutes on the market.

Option #1 was soy milk.  That was quickly eliminated not because of the taste (okay, partly because of the taste...), but because the majority of soy beans grown in the USA are genetically-modified.  And anything that has been genetically altered is not something I want to be putting in my body.

Option #2 was almond milk.  I actually really like the taste of almond milk, but I was already eating a lot of nuts on a daily basis.  And gorging yourself on nuts is not a wise decision.

Which left me Option #3....coconut milk.  I had never tried it before, but I love coconut oil, coconut butter, and just plain coconut, so it stood to reason that I would like this concoction as well.  After experimenting with the white liquid, I found it to be quite valuable in my kitchen.  Even though my non-dairy diet is over, I have continued purchasing coconut milk instead of cow's milk.

Here are some suggestions for how to incorporate coconut milk into your diet:

1.  Drink it out of a glass like regular milk (goes especially well with cookies!)
2.  Use as a substitute for milk in pastries (cookies, brownies, etc.)
3.  Substitute for eggs/milk in pancakes (the thick texture helps batter stick together)
4.  Add to egg mixture for omelettes (makes it a little creamy)
5.  Mix with granola and fruit for a tasty breakfast
6.  Add to smoothies for consistency

And there are so many more options!  I have found that coconut milk (unsweetened) actually helps bring out the natural flavor of whatever you mix it with.  Because it has a thicker consistency than other types of milk, it is especially useful in baking.  But drinking it by itself is also quite tasty!

In addition, coconuts come with an assortment of health benefits including: boost in immunity, wrinkle prevention, renewed energy levels, helps with weight loss and maintenance, lowers cholesterol, and the list goes on.  With all the health benefits in addition to great taste, why wouldn't you try incorporating coconut milk into your diet?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Almond-Pecan Nut Butter Recipe

On a recent visit to my parents' house, I discovered a jar of Almond-Pecan Nut Butter in the pantry.  It sounded intriguing and before I knew it, I was eating it straight out of the jar with a spoon.  The nut butter was so tasty that it didn't last long.  But as we know, purchasing almond butter at the store is expensive, and most places don't even sell a mixed nut butter.

Hence, my mission began to find out how difficult it would be to make my own nut butter.  The only dilemma was that I don't have a food processor.  But as it turns out, a woman can do wonders with a hand-blender!
A simple hand-blender works too!

Taking a few tips from friends who make almond butter on occasion, I combined and modified their recipes to make this delicious almond-pecan nut butter.

1 c. raw almonds
1/2 c. raw pecans
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

(I used grapeseed oil, because it doesn't have much flavor and therefore preserves the taste of the nuts.)

1. Place all the nuts in food processor (or hand-blender, in my case).
2. Grind nuts, occasionally stirring with a spoon.
3. Keep going!  It takes several minutes to grind the nuts completely.
4. Gradually add oil, one tablespoon at a time.  Add cinnamon and salt.
5. Continue grinding until you reach the desired consistency.  I don't like creamy nut butter, so it did not take long for it to be done after I added the oil.
6. Eat and enjoy your own homemade almond-pecan nut butter!

Prep time: 20 minutes

Voila, delicious homemade almond-pecan butter!

By the way, I found an organic website that sells an 8oz. jar of almond-pecan butter for $15.  For the same amount of money, you can make this recipe about 4 times!

Friday, April 13, 2012

My Story

I don't know about you, but when I make a decision to do something, I want to do it all at the same time.  I hate waiting around for results or to see the fruit of my labor.  But over the years, I have learned that changes are not made instantaneously, especially when it comes to healthy living.  If you want to make a true lifestyle change, you have to be like the guy in "What About Bob?" and take baby steps.  One foot in front of the other at a comfortable pace.

The first step I can pinpoint in my own life is way back in high school when I eliminated soda from my diet.  My basketball coach didn't want us drinking soda during the season, because it affected our playing ability.  After going a whole season without drinking soda, it was not appealing to me anymore.  This was my first "baby step."  I focused on one tangible and achievable task.

Through the years, there have been several milestones in my life: discovering ways of fun exercising (let's be honest, dancing is my favorite), cutting back on my carbohydrate intake, realizing fruit juices have just as much (if not more) sugar than soda, discovering the benefits and better taste of organic food, etc.  But to achieve these milestones, I had to take one little step at a time.  Sometimes I didn't even realize I was moving forward, and other times I knowingly took giant leaps.  But each small step got me to where I am today.

That's why I started this blog.  I am a work in process.  As I continue to take baby steps on my own pathway to healthy living, I hope you will benefit from what I learn along the way.

We are all on a Journey

Each of us has a different path in life.  For myself personally, it has been a journey that has taken several years.  And I am still learning everyday.  Living a healthy lifestyle is not easy.  If you wanted to take the easy way out, you could eat McDonald's every night for dinner and be done with it.  Healthy living is making a conscious decision to take action and provide for your entire wellbeing: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.

But we all have to start somewhere.  Maybe you have never given much thought to nutrition, or maybe you label yourself a "health nut."  Wherever you are on your pathway to healthy living, I hope this blog encourages you and provides new ideas to help you along the way.