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Brilliant New Ways to Cook with Coconut

Join the Coco Craze

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When it comes to a food that hits on multiple health fronts, it's hard to outdo coconut. Its water is super-hydrating, its oil can protect your heart, and its meat is full of fiber. That versatility, plus its creamy texture and islandy flavor, are exactly why chefs are excitedly brainstorming ways to showcase the tropical treat. Here, chef Guy Turland, a co-owner of Bondi Harvest in Santa Monica, California, and a coauthor of the Bondi Harvest cookbook, shares some inspired ideas.

Photo: Ted Cavanaugh

Make Pancakes with Coconut Flour

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For gluten-free pancakes with a slightly sweet flavor, combine 4 eggs, 1/4 cup coconut milk, 3 tablespoons coconut oil, 1/4 cup coconut flour, 1 tablespoon coconut or granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon each baking powder and sea salt. Place the batter in a pan greased with— what else?—coconut oil, and cook over medium heat. For more, check out these healthy pancake recipes for a better-than-ever breakfast.

Photo: Ted Cavanaugh

Top Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Butter

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With the consistency of nut butter and the velvety texture of oil, coconut butter will melt into your baked sweet potato, adding tons of flavor and a luscious silkiness. Make your own by whizzing shredded, unsweetened coconut in a high-speed blender for 10 to 15 minutes, or buy it jarred.

Photo: Ted Cavanaugh

Mix Coconut Vinegar Into a Marinade

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Chicken thighs, salmon, and tuna are all enhanced by this mild marinade: Mix together 1 tablespoon each of coconut vinegar and coconut aminos (a liquid made from the sap of coconut blossoms; find it at grocery and health-food stores), 3 tablespoons olive or coconut oil, 1/2 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic.

Photo: Ted Cavanaugh

Use Coconut Flour In Baked Goods

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This form of coconut, which is made by grinding defatted, dried coconut meat and is high in fiber, imparts great flavor and natural sweetness to baked goods like muffins and brownies, says Turland. (For more healthy baking, watch Alison Sweeney make blueberry breakfast bars.)

Photo: Shutterstock

Brew a Spicy-Sweet Coconut Tea

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Place 1 cinnamon stick, 4 slices fresh ginger, 3 cloves, 3 star anise, 3 black peppercorns, and 1/2 teaspoon each fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and cardamom seeds in a medium pot with 3 cups of water and bring to simmer for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon each toasted coconut flakes and black tea leaves and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons each coconut milk and coconut sugar to taste then using a fine sieve strain tea and serve.

Photo: Shutterstock

Make a Coconut Ponzu Sauce for Stir Fry

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Mix together ½ cup aminos, ¼ cup orange juice, the juice and zest of 2 lemons, the juice and zest of 1 orange, 1 tablespoon water, 1 ½ tablespoons mirin (rice wine), black pepper to taste, and 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds. Serve it with a stir fry or rice bowl, or even use it as a dipping sauce for sushi.

Photo: Shutterstock

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