Friday, January 23, 2009

A love of all things coconut


My last post was three weeks ago?  Three weeks go by that quickly now? Yeesh. I have had so much fabulous food in these past three weeks, and I've been narrating them in my head without putting them on this site. Well, it's time to get cracking (and put down that damn copy of Twilight).  I have something amazingly delicious to share today.  Brace yourselves.

Admittedly, you're not going to enjoy this if you're not a fan of coconut. The only reason I know this is because my poor, poor husband never acquired a taste for coconut and has no appreciation for something like this.  He doesn't even care for macaroons.  Poor man.   

Coconut is a gem - especially for those of us that don't tolerate dairy and are looking for some good alternatives.  Pick up coconut milk, flaked coconut meat, or coconut oil to substitute dairy products.  I like to use coconut oil as a butter alternative since it solidifies at approximately 70 degrees and works well almost anywhere that dairy butter would.  

My newest discovery though (read: addiction) is coconut cream.  It is heaven, I swear.  It's basically coconut meat that has been ground very finely but stores as a solid mass in the jar.  It is more dry than oily, and is best extracted from the jar with a fork or knife as opposed to a spoon. You can crumble it on warm food and watch it melt in like soft cheese, blend it with water to make coconut milk, add it to soups and stews for flavor, and - my favorite - eat it straight out of the jar in chunks like there is no tomorrow.  I confess, I haven't been very creative with my first batch of coconut cream.  Honestly, it's so tasty I've just been eating it by the spoonful or putting a small amount on a bite of bread to savor the flavor.  Sometimes with a bit of agave or salt.  I fully intend to play around with making milk out of it and using it in recipes but I've nearly killed the jar in less than a month. Looks like I'll have to buy another one.  What a shame.

I like to get it from Tropical Traditions which gives me an excuse to peruse all of the other delicious items on their website.  Try it out and let me know what you think and how you like to eat it.  Recipes are welcome, too!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Lard: Superfood of 2009....?


I just love that I am posting in order to extol the potential virtues of lard. Especially in the face of so many lard nay-sayers out there.  After all, it is a saturated animal fat so therefore must be the cause of atrocities like heart disease and the like, right? 

Honestly, I am not convinced.  If you would like to hear the pro-saturated fat side of the argument, I suggest you check out the Weston A. Price Foundation.  They are just one of the groups challenging our current ideas around the relationship between saturated fats and disease.  Here is a list of articles on their site exploring this topic. Speaking as someone that fell utterly into the fat-free fad of the 90's, I confess that I find the opinions at WAPF very refreshing.  Take a look and see what you think. 

But I'm not really here to talk about lard as a saturated fat.  I'm excited because I've read a few sources marking lard (from pastured pigs) as one of the richest dietary sources of vitamin D. This makes sense that you would find it in concentrated amounts in the fat of an animal as it is a fat-soluble vitamin.  Vitty D has been in the news quite a bit these days because of how prevalent deficiencies are and the possible links to many health issues, including MS.  This just means we need to consume more of it either through food, supplementation, or sunlight exposure.  And considering how little sunlight we get in the lovely Pacific Northwest, getting our D from the sun isn't as easy up here as it is in sunny California.

I myself have a rather significant deficiency in vitty D as well as an intolerance to all supplemental forms of it.  That's right, all of them.  I have yet to find a vitamin D supplement that I don't react to, and none of my doctors have been able to figure out why or what to do about it.  So food sources are my only way to go.

I bought a lovely bucket of lard this past weekend at the local farmers market and I'm going to start cooking everything I can palatably justify in it (my husband deterred me from attempting to make salad dressing out of it- saying something about that being gross).  I'll retest my vitty D levels in a few months and see if they've come up at all.

You'll be among the first to know.

Also, many thanks to Seabreeze Farm and the amazing products they bring to our local farmers market every week.  I used to travel over to Vashon several years ago to get their raw milk (before I was fully aware of the dairy allergy) and they've grown so much since then.