I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, so the fact that coconuts and its products are all the rage now is pretty funny. I have vivid memories of my grandfather, Ito, climbing on palm trees and chopping coconuts right out of the tree with his huge machete; yes, this was all very normal when I grew up there! He would then slice the top of the coconut and give us a few straws, and when we were done drinking the coconut water, he chopped the thing in half and we used a piece of coconut as a “spoon” to eat the white, delicious, meat.
Fast forward MANY years, and being so involved with nutrition, I have to chuckle when I hear about all the health benefits of coconuts. Who knew back then?! There’s coconut water, coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut milk, coconut flour, shredded coconut and of course, coconut cream (can you say authentic pina colada?). What about coconut sugar? Have you heard of it? It’s actually not as “out there” as I thought; after all, I found it first at my local Trader Joes!
Coconut oil has antioxidant properties as well as antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is an incredible source of medium chain fatty acids which have been shown to have many health benefits, so don’t be afraid of the high saturated fat content! It’s GOOD fat! We have read of people not only cooking with it, but using it as a moisturizer and even for their PETS!
Coconut sugar is made from the sugar blossoms of fresh coconuts found in the tropics. It has a much lower glycemic index than “white” cane sugar, and it contains vitamins, minerals and amino acids; calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper and B vitamins to name a few. However, it is important to remember that coconut sugar is a SUGAR, and has as many calories as cane sugar, so it should be used sparingly. It works GREAT as a substitute in recipes, especially for brown sugar, and I substitute it 1:1. The recipe below, inspired by Cooking Light, is one of our favorites and coconut sugar works great! The rub also works well on steaks, pork tenderloin or chicken.
Grilled Salmon with Korean Barbecue Glaze
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 (6oz) wild salmon fillets
1. Prepare grill.
2. Combine first 5 ingredients. Rub or brush coconut sugar mixture evenly on salmon fillets.
3. Place fish on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Enjoy!
Yield: 6 servings