Kookoo for Coconut

Because the days of being kookoo for Cocoa Puffs are long gone.  In fact, most breakfast cereals offer the body a whole lotta nothin’ to be crazy about. Enriched flour? Check. Multiple forms of corn? Check. Giant list of chemicals, preservatives, and additives? Check, check, check. Oh yeah, don’t forget sugar – lots of it. Obviously going kookoo for coconut makes a whole lot more sense (it being a superfood and all). Clearly it’s not a cereal substitute, but it IS a marvelous milk substitute.

I will do my best to contain my over-the-top enthusiasm for homemade coconut milk and spare you an abundance of capital letters and exclamation points  going on in my brain when I think about it. Besides, any attempt at a description is futile because it is quite simply TOO DELICIOUS FOR WORDS. I could tell you all kinds of good ways to use it, but who am I kidding? The best thing to do with coconut milk is drink it in it’s pure and perfect form. In my humble opinion, pouring it over cereal or adding it to a recipe would be a waste of the most delectable nectar known to mankind. I have never been one to drink a glass of milk by itself, but now I’m a complete addict. I’m hooked on the stuff. My name is Becky and I’m a milkaholic. Cocoholic?

Apparently my over-the-top enthusiam cannot be silenced.

The recipe is simple, as you only need 2 – 3 ingredients: coconut, water, and sweetener, if desired. But simple does not mean easy, and this simple recipe takes me over an hour to make, but it’s totally worth it. I realize there are plenty of coconut milk options out there. I tried the So Delicious brand and it straight up tasted like water. Silk coconut milk is tasty, but also contains many foreign, hard-to-pronounce ingredients. As you know, I really try to avoid those.

So, if you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll be rewarded with the most incredible coconut milk you’ve ever tasted.

Homemade Coconut Milk (of the gods)

Ingredients:
2 coconuts
Water
Sweetener of choice (optional)

Tools:
Hole-poking device
Hammer
Sharp Spoon
Blender
Mesh Strainer
Pitchers/Containers/Bowls (to strain the milk into)
Cheesecloth or Paper Towel (optional)

Step 1 (and quite possibly the most important step): Choose two of the heaviest and lightest-colored coconuts you can find. Shake them; the more juice you hear sploshing about, the better. Coconut selection is a tricky business because it can look perfectly fine on the outside and be completely rotten on the inside. Coconuts are not a commonly purchased grocery item, meaning they can easily sit on the shelf for months without anyone realizing they’re bad. Case in point:

They just LOOK innocent. Upon cracking them, I found one to be orange and gooey, another black and moldy, and the last one was pure white...and pure alcohol.

Step 2: Drain the coconut water into a container. There are three little spots at the top of the coconut; one of them is softer than the others and you can easily poke a hole through it. Cool, right? I never knew this until my Colombian husband informed me of it. Americans need to get more familiar with coconuts. The hole-poking may take some creativity on your part. I’ve been using a kabob skewer! Oh, and it’s okay if the water has little bits and pieces of stuff in it because you’re going to strain it later.

Step 3: Break open the coconuts. This is the most fun part of the milk-making process. I like to tie each of them in a plastic bag and throw it at the sidewalk with all the strength I can muster. After it’s broken, go at the pieces with a hammer until they’re all smaller and more manageable.

Step 4: Remove the meat from the shell. This is harder than it sounds. I take a sharp spoon, dig, and pry. I’ve read online that you can steam the coconut and it will separate from the shell, but I’ve yet to try it out. I used to peel off the light brown skin but found that it lengthened the process and didn’t make a difference in the flavor.

Step 5: Put half of the coconut pieces in the blender and cover with the reserved coconut water. Blend very, VERY thoroughly. Be patient, your ultimate goal here is a liquid. And remember that the longer you blend, the more flavor will be extracted from the coconut meat. Then, strain the coconut mixture into a bowl. Press with a spoon to get all of the liquid out, leaving the coconut fluffy and dry.

Step 6: Put the fluffy meat back in the blender and cover with drinking water. Add sweetener, to taste, if you like. I use a little bit of Stevia. Blend thoroughly a second time and repeat the straining process. Repeat the blend, strain, blend, strain process with the other half of your coconut pieces.

Step 7 (optional): Transfer the dry coconut meat to a cheesecloth or strong paper towel, wrap tightly, and squeeze out every last drop of milk. This is not necessary, but I like to get the most milk that I possibly can.


You can use the leftover coconut in pancakes, muffins, or other baked goods, but it usually ends up sitting in my fridge unused, so I’ve stopped saving it.



I made a little over half a gallon with two coconuts. Remember that because this milk contains no strange additives or preservatives, it will separate and small clumps will form. Stir before drinking and enjoy the clumps – they’re smooth, buttery, and my very favorite part. Chill before serving and sip to your heart’s content. Or guzzle. Either way, embrace your new addiction.

Enjoy!

~Becky, a coconutty skinnyfat girl

Vegan “Fast Food” and Gelato

E – After weeks and weeks of pining and tear-shedding, Becky and I finally had a proper girls outing.  Now, of course, the word “proper” in our vocabulary absolutely and unequivocally means that food will be involved.  This trip we decided to try Loving Hut Vegan Cuisine.

B – This place was quaint, but actually left something to be desired. We both got wraps, which were good, but nothing special. We agreed that we could have made something more delicious at home. We’ll probably do that next time! Still, the seitan was tasty and inspired us to work on our own gluten recipes. We each had a side of potato salad that definitely did NOT taste vegan. Again, it was good, but I’m not a huge potato salad fan and wasn’t crazy over it.

E – After the slightly underwhelming lunch, we made our way over the mall and had gelato at Paciugo!  The great thing about Paciugo’s is that the gelato has 70% less fat than regular ice cream because they don’t use cream.  They also have fruit sorbet and vegan options available, but Becky and I weren’t quite so good and went for the real deal.  Everything is made fresh daily with fresh, real ingredients, and you can really tast the difference.  Once you go Paciugo, you will never go back.  Okay, so that was cheesy, but it’s still the truth.

B – While gelato is not healthy by stretch of the imagination, it is still healthier than ice cream.  The Hazelnut Mocha completely reversed any dissatisfaction caused by lunch. We were both silently immersed in our own little gelato worlds for at least five full minutes, which is saying something because we usually can’t shut up.

We took a bunch of regular pics, but I think this one sums up our real feelings.
E – While gelato nearly always makes for a number one moment of any day, I have to say that the very best part of the day was having some good quality togetherness.  Next time we will try to cook something fabulous and share it with all of you!
~Becky and Elesha, skinnyfat girls

Holiest Guacamole with Totopos

I’ve wanted to do a guacamole post for months. Months. I’ve made it plenty of times in those months but never have the patience to take pictures. I simply don’t have the self control to stop myself from eating it the moment it’s ready! Guacamole is one of my favorite meals ever, ever, EVER. Yes, it’s a whole meal; the hubs and I quite regularly devour a giant bowl of it with totopos, which are simply corn tortillas cut into quarters and baked until crispy. Like tortillas chips, only without all the oil and salt. They’re also much thicker than chips, which make them stronger, more capable guacamole shovels.

Avocado almost melts on the tongue. Smooth, flavorful, and buttery, a plant can’t possibly get much better, in my opinion. But besides tasting absolutely divine, it also offers an array of health benefits. Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that people actually avoid avocados. I had a coworker come back from his lunchbreak and tell me, in hushed tones, that he had seen another coworker order guacamole on her chicken sandwich, and did I know how fattening guacamole is? I tried not to laugh out loud.

The avocado is, indeed, comprised mostly of fat, but it’s NOT fattening. The human body needs fat to function properly, but there are good and bad fat choices. I won’t go into a whole spiel here, so if you’d like to read more on why good fats are critical to a healthy diet, click here, here, here, or google “healthy fats” for a plethora of information on the topic. Some good sources of healthy fats include nuts, olive oil, fatty fish, and – you guessed it – avocado. So please, please, eat avocado at every opportunity, and most preferably in guacamole form.

Guacamole is entirely customizable. Some people like it smooth and creamy, others chunky. Some like it mild, others spicy. It’s taken me a few years to perfect it to my taste, but you should most definitely take your own preferences into consideration. If you’re not big on cilantro you will hate my guacamole, but you’re not making it for me, are you? Omit the cilantro, just never tell me about it because I will cry.

Holiest Guacamole

Ingredients:
(amounts are approximate)

2 large avocados
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 – 3 serrano peppers, seeds removed and finely diced
1/4 – 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/8 – 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
Lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Is that not a beautiful list of ingredients? Simple, fresh, and healthy.

Of course, the avocado is the most crucial. Invest in the best ones you can find; guacamole deserves it. I generally look for avocados the size of my face.


Before you get started, cut your corn tortillas into quarters, spread out on a cookie sheet, and put in an oven preheated to 350. Let those bake while you prepare your guacamole and they should be nice and crispy when you’re done.

First, chop the tomatoes, onion, serranos, and cilantro.

Scoop the avocado into a bowl and mash to your heart’s content. I like some chunks in there, especially because it tends to smooth out a lot when you mix it all together.

Add your chopped ingredients to the avocado and squeeze fresh lime juice on top. Add salt and pepper to taste. I like freshly ground sea salt and black peppercorn. Adjust flavors as desired.

Take your crispy totopos out of the oven and scoop the avocado perfection into your mouth. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Seriously, don’t stop.


It seems almost unfair for something so easy to make to taste so insanely good. Shouldn’t I have to work a little harder to produce something so fabulous? Nope, guess not.

Make it, see for yourself. Don’t forget the cilantro.

~Becky, a skinnyfat girl

The Breaking of the Fast

Otherwise known as breakfast. Only instead of breaking a regular overnight fast, my breakfast broke a three-day fast.

You all realize I am in passionate, over-the-moon l-o-v-e with eating, right? Right?!? So how I was able to go 84 hours without food is beyond comprehension. I suppose it helped that I was still consuming calories in the form of fresh fruit and vegetable juice, in fact, I felt stuffed sometimes after drinking my giant green miracle liquid.

Mean Green Health Machine

The hubs and I watched a documentary last weekend about a guy who was fed up with being fat and sick and was desperate to change his life. He kicked his useless doctors to the curb and began a  60-day juice fast. We’re not talkin’ V8 here, people; this was the real deal: raw fruits and vegetables juiced four times a day. By the end he had shed 90 pounds, lowered his cholesterol and blood pressure to normal levels, completely reversed a rare auto-immune disease that had plagued him for years, and rid himself entirely of dozens of prescription pills.

We were inspired. Being less-than-pleased with our eating habits as of late, we decided that a three-day juice fast would be a great way to cleanse our systems and get back on track. And boy, was it ever! My skin cleared up. The hubs had no more itchy scalp and the dry skin on his feet went away (TMI, I know…). It felt so great to fill my body with gigantic doses of vitamins all day.

But I sure did miss eating. I broke my fast with blueberry pancakes, and they’ve never tasted so darn good.

Life has been so hectic lately that I haven’t even had time to cook let alone blog. Correction, I’ve done lots of cooking but it’s all been for family functions. On top of that, we’re about the break the record for most days in a row above 100 degrees EVER, so I’ve kept my oven use to a bare minimum. It doesn’t help that the oven is as old as the hills – I literally have to crawl underneath and light it with a match – and it doesn’t do a very good job of holding the heat in. In fact, setting the oven temperature is like turning the kitchen thermostat to 350.

Next time, a recipe, but for now, sleep. Running at 5 a.m. demands it.

~Becky, a green-juicin’ skinnyfat girl

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