I think it’s been fairly well-established that I heart coconut, and it seems like many of you do too. And I think most people, whether they’re health nuts or not, foodies or veg*ns or straight-up SAD-eating omnivores, are familiar with coconut in its more traditional forms. That would be the oil, dried/shredded flesh, and milk.
A few years back coconut water hit the scene with a big splash (oh HA right?!), and propelled coconut further into the mainstream. As America has warmed to this amazing tropical fruit, new and exciting products have been hitting the shelves. And I recently had the opportunity to sample a number of these products, gifted to me by an awesome little company called Coconut Secret.
So here’s the deal: I love these products. LOVE THEM! They are all vegan, gluten-free, and RAW! As a collection, the entire line offers unique flavors and textures that open up an entirely new world of raw (and non-raw) cooking techniques. For example, I never dreamed a raw pastry crust could be so buttery-flakey until I stumbled onto coconut flour. And that’s just the beginning!
But before we jump into reviewing each product individually, I do have one single criticism. Perhaps it’s just my personal preference, but I was quite put off by the manner in which some of the products are presented on the website. Namely, via bashing their [perceived] competitors. I just don’t think it’s necessary (or savvy) to attack an ancient health tonic like apple cider vinegar, and I feel like there’s a way of highlighting the product’s “selling points” in a less aggressive way. And maybe that’s the problem – it feels like selling, and it made me feel sold to, and that makes me skeptical and distrustful. I don’t want to hear that apple cider vinegar is actually bad for me because, well, I know that’s just. not. true. Or the odd implication that if you manually add a culturing agent when ferment a food, that it’s somehow inferior to a “naturally aged” product. What??! And I understand that agave is contentious, but you know what? Mercola is a snake oil salesman who’s even more contentious than agave! And soy – oh god. Don’t get me started. Look, I avoid it for the most part and I’m no soy proponent, not by a long shot. But the ridiculous old “soy-formula-is-like-babies-on-birth-control” line is essentially the equivalent of “soy will make your son gay.” (veiled homophobia?) It’s ludicrous and it’s just sort of weird but most of all, it’s NOT a conclusion that’s supported by the science.
All that’s to say, the whole “on the attack” marketing approach is just not my cup of tea. I’d rather just hear why YOUR product rocks, yeah?
This all-raw, gluten-free flour is high in fiber, is unbleached/unrefined, and of course, it’s organic. And it’s just amazing. It’s got a totally unique flavor (just a little bit sweet, not very “coconut-y” at all), and a powdery texture that will work in a recipe much like traditional flour. You can use it in baking or as a thickener in sauces or smoothies. But where it’s really changed my life, is in my raw diet.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! From sweet treats to savory pastry and everything in between, coconut four is totally revolutionizing the way that people approach uncooking. Recently, I even got my paws on a brand new uncookbook, all about raw cupcakes, that’s pretty much centered around coconut flour. SERIOUSLY GAME-CHANGING.
[shop coconut flour]
This is another product that’s totally changed my kitchen. Coconut crystals taste almost identicle to brown sugar, except of course that they’re RAW, organic, unrefined, and low glycemic. Hooray!
No blood sugar spike, and it’s a good thing too, because my absolute favorite dessert in the world is a frozen banana cut into slices, with raw almond butter, dunked in coconut crystals . . . which I usually eat very late at night. But it doesn’t keep me up, because coconut crystals have a glycemic index of 35!
You can use coconut crystals in traditional baking, like I did in this cherry crisp, or you can keep it nice and raw. Brown sugar is such a distinct flavor, and having access to it in raw form opens up so many amazing new possibilities.
[shop coconut crystals]
Coconut Nectar is a liquid sweetener made from the sap collected from coconut flowers. It’s also RAW, and organic, and best of all it’s low-glycemic (GI of 35). This is a another great alternative sweetener for those who are opposed to honey and looking for something that won’t spike their sugars.
Coconut nectar does have it’s own unique flavor, almost flowery, which can take some adjusting to. I’ve grown to enjoy it very much, but it hasn’t replaced my other sweeteners altogether. Instead it’s simply helped round out my pantry – there are places where coconut nectar works wonderfully, and there are places where I prefer something more neutral (or something more specific, such as real maple syrup). But if you could only buy one liquid sweetener, coconut nectar would certainly fill all your needs. It can stand in for any liquid sweetener, in any recipe, cooked or uncooked.
[shop coconut nectar]
Coconut aminos are meant to take the place of soy sauce, and this is the one product of the whole line that didn’t totally blow me away. However, if you have a soy allergy or a thyroid condition or something else that requires you to avoid soy entirely, you’re in luck: coconut aminos totally get the job done.
This condiment is RAW, gluten-free, and soy-free. It’s nice to have another raw umami option, and it’s great that soy-free folks can get back into their Asian cooking groove. Personally, I prefer the taste of tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) or nama shoyu (raw soy sauce), but I’ll also be keeping coconut aminos on hand for when I want to mix things up.
[shop coconut aminos]
LOVE! Finally, a raw vinegar besides apple cider! Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some ACV. But let’s be honest, it can be a little . . . strong. And really, when you only have one (bottled) acid to work with, you run the risk of getting a little bored. Enter coconut vinegar!
Coconut vinegar is RAW and organic. The flavor is gentler than ACV, and it has a certain sweetness to it. The first time I sampled it, I thought it tasted distinctly reminiscent of rice wine vinegar. Well, that pretty much kicked off an entire week of culinary creativity in my kitchen! I use coconut vinegar in “stir-fry” (or stir-dry) marinades, in my raw sushi rice, in Asian-inspired salad dressings, and on and on. I love it so much, it’s featured prominently throughout in my raw uncookbook (though you can always sub out ACV, no problem).
In sum, I think it’s safe to say that I’m stupendously excited by these products. They will all continue to play a big part in my foodie adventures, and if you’re looking to expand your own pantry and breath some new inspiration into your kitchen, I just can’t recommend them enough.