Yes, coconut milk. It seems to be everywhere, but we are probably wondering why. When non-dairy milks became mainstream, coconut milk became an obvious contender for the grocery store shelf. Especially with so many nut allergies around, which eliminates many of the other non-dairy alternatives like almond or cashew milk. So if you’re needing to live nut-free and dairy-free, you’re left with only a few options. And coconut milk is a great one.
However, if you’ve tried looking for coconut milk at the grocery store, you’re probably wondering what to buy. There tend to be three basic choices that a traditional grocery store offers. There’s the coconut milk beverage sold near the juice aisle, which is not the same as coconut milk. It is a mixture of multiple ingredients, using coconut as its base. Then there’s the coconut milk (also a “beverage”) in the refrigerator section at the store. It might taste the best of all of these three options, but it has a lot of additives, so watch out and read the label. And lastly, there’s the coconut milk in the can in the Asian food aisle. But if you look at the ingredient list on most of those cans, they include other ingredients too. Most often the one there is guar gum, which can have questionable affects on our bodies, depending on the individual and how much is consumed (because guar gum is a thickener, it is in more than you might realize, so just read the labels). Know what you’re putting in your body.
But I get it. Not everyone likes the flavor of coconut milk. I actually don’t. So do I drink it as a milk alternative? No. I do use it to add to my morning coffee and for making smoothies and soups for my family. But I don’t use any of the three store-bought alternatives I just mentioned.
Since I will only buy coconut milk without all the additives, I am left with only two options for pure coconut milk that are reasonable in price. All the others are simply too expensive. Trader Joe’s sells a can of coconut milk that is clean of additives, but to be honest, it behaves more like cream. Even when I shake it and stir it, I just can’t get it to be creamy, like milk. Simply said, it has separated. So the one that I have fallen in love with is Arroy-D and is super smooth. I can easily use it in my coffee without clumps. And with this one, I don’t have to worry about if it’s in a BPA free can.
But did you know you can make your own? This is a super easy recipe and is a bit of a less expensive alternative to the pre-made coconut milks on the market. Just make sure that you get the unsweetened coconut flakes, but if you do, it should turn out just right.
So, all of this said, what are the health benefits of coconut milk? There are many. Chris Kresser has a great article, Coconut Milk: This Is Your Comprehensive Guide, that shares some of that for you. Take the time to know your body and if adding coconut milk to your diet might be a benefit.
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
- Heat water until hot, but not boiling.
- Put shredded coconut in blender or Vitamix and add the hot water.
- Blend on high for several minutes until thick and creamy.
- First, pour through a mesh strainer to remove most of the coconut solids. Then squeeze through a towel or several thicknesses of cheesecloth to remove remaining pieces of coconut.
NOTE: Drink immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3–4 days after making for best flavor and texture. Since there are no preservatives or fillers, the “cream” of the coconut milk may separate on the top if stored in the fridge. Just shake or stir before using.