Adventures with Coconut: Sweet, Savory and Smooth
I’ve set off on a coconut adventure creating three different recipes using young thai coconuts in order to illustrate just how versatile this healthful, delicious ingredient can be as well as to demonstrate how easy it can be to incorporate into a flavorful, plant-based diet.
Coconuts are one of the most versatile fruits around and are commonly used for everything from desserts to savory dishes. Coconut water has many health benefits such as boosting energy, regulating blood pressure and even helping with weight loss and digestive issues. And the meat of young thai coconuts is very low in fat and rich in antioxidants. In addition to their health benefits and nutrient density, coconuts are a great ingredient for vegan cooking due to their ability to add a rich and creamy texture to any dish.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m arriving a bit late to the coconut party. This tropical fruit has been all the rage for years now, with a zillion brands of coconut water flooding the shelves and juice bars offering fresh coconut meat in smoothies. While I’ve enjoyed these products from time to time I have only actually purchased a coconut once and let’s just say trying to open it was not pretty. I might even be lucky to still have all ten fingers!
When I was growing up, my mom would often make chocolate pudding for dessert. She used the boxes of Cook & Serve Jell-o with whole milk and I used to love the rich, smooth flavor and texture. It wasn’t until recently when I was brainstorming recipes to for this Adventures With Coconut series that I realized how much I would love to have a vegan version of this long-time favorite treat. And I’m not talking about simply substituting soy milk for the cow’s milk! (You can read why Jell-o isn’t vegan in my recent post about foods that seem vegetarian but aren’t.) This vegan chocolate pudding is a complete overhaul on a long-time favorite treat.
I’ve seen coconut used in many ways but what got my juices flowing was thinking back to a vegan banana cream pie I made last year for my dad’s birthday. The filling for the pie was made using coconut, which essentially is a pudding until you put it in a crust! So I suppose the inspiration for this recipe was sparked from the Cafe Gratitude Cookbook, who’s recipe I was following for the pie.
Feel free to get creative with this recipe. I shaved a little bit of dark chocolate on top for a little texture and to make it look pretty. A touch of vanilla or cinnamon might also taste great. Perhaps even a pinch of cayenne for a bit of spiciness. Enjoy!
- 2 cups coconut water*
- 2 cups coconut meat*
- 4 dates
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1/4 cup water
- Add the chia seeds to the water and set aside to soak for 5 minutes while you open the coconuts. They will start to get a gel-like consistency which will help to thicken the pudding.
- Carefully open two young thai coconuts. (I used a Coco Jack).
- Pour the coconut water into a bowl and scrape the coconut meat out.
- Remove the pits from the dates and chop until they develop into a thick paste. This will help them blend more smoothly into the mixture.
- Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. (I used my Vitamix)
- Pour pudding mixture into small bowls if serving soon or in airtight containers if saving for later.
- Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes to allow the pudding to thicken.
- *I used the water and meat from two young thai coconuts, approximately 2 cups of each.