Friday, July 5, 2013

Homemade Coconut Milk, and Coconut Chia Pudding

Coconut Milk Jar
I am not afraid of a little hard work.  To avoid preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, or other unnecessary weirdness in my food, I will attempt any hair-brained, hippy-dippy, do-it-yourself recipe.  Some work out, others are failures (or what I like to call "learning experiences") - and thankfully, making your own coconut milk is the former.  Easy peasy!
Coconut milk is a key ingredient in many Indian, Thai, and other Southeast Asian recipes.  It’s also a great staple to have on hand if you are lactose intolerant, or if you are allergic to soy or almond milk.  And while you can find it in a can in many supermarkets, it is quite easy to make at home!  All you need is dried or desiccated coconut flakes, a blender, a colander, and cheesecloth.  Now, this is not the coconut you make into a pie – that stuff is full of sugar and preservatives!  Make sure it is unsweetened, dried coconut.  You can use fresh coconut too, if you can find one. (I can get them at my local Thai market, but you may not have one of those nearby.)  The coconut milk is good for about a week in your refrigerator.  I keep mine in a Ball jar with a lid, but I can’t make it last more than 3 days – it’s that delicious!
What you do with it is up to you.  Pour it over your cereal (or Christi’s Granola), use it in coffee in place of creamer, or make this delicious Coconut Chia Pudding.  Chia seeds can be found online at Amazon, at nearly all health food stores or Whole Foods, and at Trader Joe’s.   Chia seeds are teeny, tiny, little health bombs!  Full of Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and other necessary things, chia seeds can add crunch to homemade crackers, or top sweet potatoes and salads.  Even better, when mixed with liquid, they create a gel, and make a delicious “pudding” that feels decadent, but is actually quite healthy.  Think tapioca or rice pudding, without all the diet-busting starch!
Coconut Chia Pudding

Next week I’ll have more recipes that use coconut milk, but for now, here are the basics.  Check it out!
Homemade Coconut Milk
  • 1 cup shredded, dried coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  1. Boil water.  (I know, but it has to be said.)  In the pitcher of a blender or a large food processor (I use a food processor and it works fine), pour in one cup of coconut flakes.  Measure out 1 1/2 cups of boiling water and pour over the coconut.  Let sit for about 20 minutes.  Then blend for 2 or 3 minutes if you have a really strong blender, or about 4 minutes in a food processor.  You want to see a foamy slurry.
  2. Line a sieve or colander with a large piece of cheesecloth, folded over on itself.  Place the colander over a large bowl.  Pour the coconut mixture into the cheesecloth and squeeze, squeeze, SQUEEZE!!!  Pour the coconut milk into a jar with a lid and keep refrigerated.
  3. Don’t throw away the coconut pulp!  This can be mixed into smoothies, or spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and baked at 200*F for about 1 to 2 hours.  When it is completely dry, grind again in the food processor … and you just made coconut flour!  And now for the other recipe…
Coconut Chia Pudding
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey (optional, depending on how ripe and sweet your fruit is)
  • 1 cup chopped fruit – I like strawberries, blueberries, or peaches, but find what you like best
  1. In a Tupperware container with a lid, pour in one cup of coconut milk and 1/4 cup chia seeds.  Put the lid on and shake to combine.  Put in the refrigerator.  Shake again in one hour.  
  2. The chia pudding should be ready in about 3 hours.  When ready, it should be very thick, like tapioca pudding.  To serve, divide chia pudding between two bowls, drizzle with a tiny bit of honey if desired, and stir in the chopped fruit.  This makes a great dessert, or a nice, light breakfast.

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