Are Dairy Alternatives Healthy?#4 Coconut Milk and How to Make It
In the last few weeks we have looked at the topic of dairy. Is it good for you? Or is it the healthier eaters arch enemy?
There is many different perspectives out there but mainly we have been learning that the most important thing is to listen to your own body and what it is telling you. Get bloated and sick when you eat dairy? Have bad eczema or asthma? You could be lactose intolerant and dairy might not be for you. Although for many of you dairy is a joyous addition to your diets. I have looked at both sides of the argument – dairy free and dairy full and today we are looking at dairy alternatives as there are lots out there much and not all of them will do your body good!
Coconut milk is growing to be a pretty popular milk alternative for those who can’t tolerate normal milk or who can’t get hold of good quality raw milk (like me). It is high in saturated fats (remember thats a good thing) and medium chain triglyceride which are easy fuel for our bodies and they don’t require any bile acid to digest which is great for those who struggle to digest fats. Basically coconuts are brilliant , read this post if you wan to know more but over all adding coconut to your diet will do you wonders. So coconut milk then is surely a brilliant alternative? Well hold your horses lets just have a proper look…
You standard canned coconut milk often contain lots of unpleasant ingredients that can cause sensitive stomachs (like mine ) to react.
- Blue Dragon: Water, Coconut Extract (25%), Stabiliser: E466, Antioxidant: E330.
- Pride: Coconut Extract (75%), Water, Thickener: Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Carboxymethyl Cellulose, Emulsifier: Distilled Monoglycerides, Polysorbate 60, Antioxidant: Sodium Metabisulphite E223
- Kingfisher Coconut Milk Organic 400ml: Organic Coconut Extract (57%), Water, Stabiliser: Organic Guar Gum.
Cartoned Coconut Milk These are becoming more frequent in supermarkets and I have tried them before and there pretty thin and average tasting, as well as expensive. The ingredients are:
4. Filtered Water, Coconut Milk 8.4%*, Grape Juice Concentrate, Calcium Phosphate, Emulsifier: Sucrose Ester, Sea Salt, Colour: Natural Carotene, Vitamin D2, Vitamin B12. (8% coconut! so its mostly water with thickener and additives!)
So the above ingredient are a bit of a mix. The first one is disconcerting due to the fact that it is mostly water and the most expensive one of the three! But basically the following are not ideal
- BPA: Bisphenol-A – found in the lining of food cans which ore acidic food activate. This is why you should also never store food in cans in the fridge as it has been linked to various health problems. Here is a summary of the impact BPA can have on development and other details a about this chemical. Guar gum,
- Xanthan gum and other ‘gums’ – these are often relatively natural in origins but then highly processed to provide a thickening quality to foods. Guar gum is used as a handy laxative for those suffering from constipation and xanthan gum comes from corn sugar that is fermented so not great for grain free eating and again is heavily processed.
- Sucrose Esters are chemical compounds that are created by condensing an oxoacid — one that contains oxygen, such as carboxylic and sulphuric acids — with an alcohol, says Chemguide.co.uk – that sounds a bit to weird does it not?
So I am not trying to scare you by any means, just show you what food you are really eating and highlighting things that could be at the root of your health problems. There is nothing intrinsically evil in these ingredients but often it is the collective build up of toxins in our body that does harm. We would never eat anything obviously toxic like rat poison but we seem to be happy to allow small amount of poison into our diets and food – which is a weird logic to me. I am aiming for 100% natural (aiming people – I am no perfect princess) .
Also I react to any sort of ‘gum’ and plus I don’t want to pay lots of money for the ‘privilege’ of filling my body with chemicals!
So coconut milk seems like it should be really good for you but the stuff available in the shop is not exactly natural, most of it isn’t organic and is loaded with toxins. But what do you do if you have no sources of raw organic cows milk and want something milky? The answer is to make your own – which is super easy and cheap.
- 100g Creamed Coconut - organic
- 4-6 Drop Vanilla Essence - no added sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 litre Filtered Water
- Chop creamed coconut finely and then place in a food processor/blender with 300ml of the water.
- Blend for about 5 minutes, add vanilla and salt whilst blending. Add the another 300ml of water gradually.
- Meanwhile place a muslin cloth/thin tea towel in a mental sieve over a large bowl.
- Stop food processor and pour liquid into the muslin cloth. Then you just wring out the milk through the cloth. If you are short for time just hook the muslin/coconut mixture up (door handles are good for this) and allow it to drip out or just wring it out tightly by hand.
- Add the remaining water to the milk.
- Place in a glass bottle and store in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- Feel free to add more flavours like raw honey. Also you can make if you want it more creamy, just use more cream coconut, but coconut milk is not naturally very thick - that is why they add thickeners to shop bought stuff.
Heard lots about almond milk? Next week we will look at almond milk other wise enjoy your dairy free or dairy full week!