Here’s another fabulous post from my regular guest blogger, Sarah Bernache – enjoy!
Dear reader, there’s a confession I’d like to make: despite the fact that I eat healthfully, exercise regularly and wash my skin devotedly, I still struggle with acne and skin problems. At thirteen I was informed I’d grow out of it. At sixteen, I went on the pill to resolve it. At twenty-eight and off meds, cystic acne isn’t only annoying and embarassing, it’s downright ridiculous. These days I manage it by avoiding dairy (save plain, organic yogurt and goat’s cheese), drinking more water than seems necessary and taking a daily fish oil supplement. However, as the daughter of a dairy salesman, giving up the goods is a little harder than you’d think. A mid-morning capuccino makes things right in the world, in the same way that a café con leche is the perfect accompaniment to a full Cuban-style breakfast. Butternut squash soup with a swirl of crème fraîche? Mais oui! Wine without cheese is lonely; living across the street from one of the city’s finest gelaterias is torture. I realize there are plenty of decent substitutes, but when you’re used to the real thing, it’s akin to settling for a pawn shop fake rather than holding out for the original.
To add fuel to the fire, most alternative dairy beverages require emulsifiers to keep them shelf stable. These are processed foods, the very things we as nutritionists advise our clients to avoid. Unfortunately, as I’m sure many of you have heard already, dairy is inflammatory and one of the most common allergens in the world. So: where do we go from here? For me, it has meant a weekly, quick trip to the tropics.
While almond milk reigns as the current non-dairy darling, I’m more partial to coconut milk. Because of its fat content it holds up reasonably well in coffee and adds a little something something to a bowl of hot, creamy oats. And who can resist a little cinnamon-laced coconut cream alongside a plate of ripe Ontario berries?! It doesn’t hurt that coconut provides some nice, easy energy for your cells and is healing to the body. It’s also ridiculously easy to make.
I know homemade milk sounds a little “granola.” I mean, who has time to make milk? Honestly, it’s quick. I promise. It’s cheaper than buying store-bought. And just about all brands of canned coconut milk contain BPA, which nobody wants. While at first it seemed a little tedious, it’ll become part of your weekly routine before you realize it. Personally, I love waking up to freshly made coconut milk, a hot cup of coffee, and blinding sunlight. There’s something really right about that.
Homemade Coconut Milk
2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut (I like Organic Traditions; the only ingredient is coconut)
2-3 cups hot water (2 for very creamy milk, 3 for something a little closer to the carton variety)
Vanilla, cinnamon, sweetener, etc (optional)
Bring your water to a quick simmer and remove from heat. Add the coconut to your blender and then carefully pour the water in. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes until the water has cooled and the coconut has had the chance to soak. Add vanilla, cinnamon or whatever add-ins of your choice (optional). Blend on high for 1-2 minutes until well combined. Filter the mixture through a thin sieve or nut milk bag, using the back of a spoon (for the sieve) to eek out the remainder of the milk. Pour into a Mason jar or non-reactive vessel and refrigerate immediately. Natural separation of the cream from the milk will occur — simply shake thoroughly before using. Leftover coconut pulp can be thrown into smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods, or dehydrated and ground into coconut flour for future use. Consume milk + pulp within seven days (or freeze the pulp).
Sarah Berneche holds a B.A.H. and M.A. in English Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Windsor and a post-graduate certificate in Creative Book Publishing from Humber College. She works in corporate advertising and is currently pursuing her R.H.N. designation through CSNN’s distance education program to further her knowledge of food & nutrition. In her free time, she volunteers as a fruit gleaner and event organizer for Not Far From the Tree (http://www.notfarfromthetree.org) and as a contributing blogger & editor for LEAF (http://www.yourleaf.org).