I don’t know if it is really a nut, but the coconut is fast becoming my favorite thing on the planet. OK, I just looked it up — a coconut is a drupe. That solves it, right? Regardless of classification, it must surely be the fruit/nut/seed of the gods.
As I continue on my path of dietary enlightenment, I keep encountering it when I most need help, support and guidance; it is the fairy godmother of my diet. For years I have had a vague, but far-reaching disdain for this brown, hairy, tropical drupe. I resented its flakes taking up space in otherwise delicious baked goods. I recall vividly from my youth the futile blows we leveled at it with our hammer and the mediocre flesh we had to peel off of said hammer in order to consume the damn thing. Too much work, I say, and eating off of a hammer? Ga-ross!
It is not the coconut of my formative years that I see fit to worship. Death to any flake of it that dares to set a dry foot in my chocolate chip cookies! It is the new and unexpected derivatives of the drupe that bring me to my knees.
I first fell in love with the coconut when I was suffering from severe back pain. My hippie-dippy chiropractor told me that body pain is often intensified by dehydration and that coconut water, with its electrolytes and potassium, would help to rehydrate me without all the sugar of a sports drink. Despite the chiropractic origin of this advice, I marched myself right over to the health food store and bought a few cans. While the one with a “hint of lime” was a painful mistake, I quickly fell head-over-heals for the 100% coconut water, and now drink it regularly and with gusto. Today as I sipped it, I could almost imagine giving up my iced coffee entirely to enjoy this refreshing tropical libation.
But wait! There’s more. I have been trying to cut out dairy for sometime. For the last few months, I have eliminated it completely with the exception of the cream in my coffee. Every milk substitute I tried left me wanting half and half — life in general leaves me wanting half and half. I am avoiding soy and rice (I know, I know, I have been living too close to Berkeley for too long), and almond milk just wasn’t cutting it. Enter coconut to the rescue yet again!
Two houses ago, I bought a can of coconut milk for some Asian recipe. I have been dutifully moving it from house to house with a sense of guilt that it has gone unused. Recently, I pulled it down from the top shelf. I drank the whole thing, expired and all. I have put this delicious, creamy substance in my coffee, yes, but also in smoothies and (when I was eating grains) cereal. I even once made a delicious, tropical blended adult beverage; coconut milk plus fruit plus rum equals oh, so, yum! Unlike any other faux milk, coconut milk really feels like dairy. The dirty water that is almond milk cannot stand up to this rich, creamy nectar. And while I admit, I am totally missing the half and half (not to mention agave) in my coffee, the coconut milk is enabling me to continue my worship of the second best seed on the planet: the coffee bean.
[Sidebar: Um, hello, Science? Could you please keep your beans and nuts and fruits and drupes all straightened out? This is confusing. Yeah, and while you are at it. Why the hell is a tomato a fruit? I mean, I get the whole “it has seeds thing,” but come on! You put it in salad for crying out loud!]
My most recent reason to love the coconut came a’callin’ today (after I had already consumed an entire can of coconut water and had coconut milk in my coffee. Twice.) So, as of yesterday, I am off the soy. This is mostly OK, since I don’t do a lot of tofu or anything like that. The one place where it was hurting was soy sauce. Specifically, I was looking forward to consuming some artichokes with this delicious soy/lemon dipping sauce that my mom always made when I was a kid. My diet is still feeling rather limited, and I was crestfallen when I remembered that I was not to eat soy.
I was bemoaning my soyless fate when I came across something called Coconut Aminos. I ran right out to Whole Foods today and picked some up (along with another $80 worth of groceries I didn’t know I *needed* until I entered Whole Foods. Flippin’ Whole Foods!). When I opened the bottle tonight and poured some on my broccoli, it was if the heavens opened up so that the gods might smile upon me. Hallelujah! The soy sauce problem was solved by my magical drupe, too! Delicious, soy-less and with less salt and more amino acids than soy sauce, it is not only tasty but better for me than its alternative.
Oh, You magical nut, what will you bring me next? I will worship at the altar of this tropical miracle ’till kingdom come.