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Macrobiotic Coconut Cuisine
Jan London

 

‘Without your health, you have nothing,’
Mother used to say. That was very true, indeed,
And so it is today. Yet how does one maintain their health?
Through food, I do believe. It’ll nourish the body and nurture the soul
In its subtle, profound way. But how does one cook healthy foods?
Ah, the easiest part of all! And if one really truly wants,
Bad habits will fall, fall, fall.


It is a pity Mother did not apply her wisdom to her cooking.We were raised, like most everyone else, on the Standard American Diet. In mid-century America, there was no information, no warnings about the harmful effects of hydrogenated oils, processed sugar, sodium chloride or pesticides. In fact,
food was hardly attributed to illness. Mother was a victim of the times.

Then, in the early seventies, the shift toward more conscious food choices began and I eagerly followed. As my diet gradually changed toward more plant-based foods, my attitude and my health began to improve and my life took another direction. My passion to learn more about the healing nature of
foods led me to the Far East and to Europe where I lived for twelve years.

I studied macrobiotic cooking in harmony with Taoist principles under the guidance of my mentor, Mayli. I express these insightful teachings through my cooking, which I hope will inspire other seekers of health and lovers of great cuisine. Happy stomach!

All about Coconut

The coconut palm is one of the oldest trees on the planet and has existed since the age of the dinosaurs. It flourishes in tropical climates from Southeast Asia to Polynesia, India, the Pacific Islands, Hawaii, the Caribbean, southern California and South Florida.

Revered as the most useful tree on earth, the coconut palm has generously provided civilizations with all their needs to survive. Its roots, fronds and trunk are used for shelter, light, furniture, and household utensils. But its most sacred part is its fruit, the coconut. A hard outer green shell protects its precious nut-like seed that is covered in a hairy brown husk. This husk provides fuel for cooking, fiber for clothing and a rope, which is stronger than hemp. Within this seed lies the true essence of the coconut palm - its water, meat and oil - its life giving force.

During the months that this seed matures, it goes through two major stages: first the young coconut, with its soft, jelly-like meat and sweet revitalizing water that quenches thirst and provides energy; the second and most potent stage produces the mature nut. After harvesting the nut and removing the water, workers shell the nuts by hand. The inner skin, a thin brown layer, is cut away leaving pure thick, white coconut meat. The milk and cream are used for the ubiquitous curry sauces and desserts, and the oil is used for cooking, body massage, to nourish the skin, nails and hair and applied topically on wounds to speed healing.

The coconut has always been prized for its medicinal qualities. Yet, it also has the reputation as an aphrodisiac because of its ability to stimulate the production of hormones in both the male and female. When used as body oil and blended with stimulating spices such as cayenne pepper, it acts as a carrier to circulate the blood and to stimulate the organs, while its aromatic scent enhances the senses.

The highly mineral-charged coconut water acts to detoxify the kidneys, which indirectly affects its neighbors, the reproductive organs. Healthy kidneys are believed to promote a vibrant, healthy attitude, which expresses itself through the normal, healthy desire for sexual and emotional fulfillment. In a greater sense, this cycle is the silent call of nature to preserve the species.

After years of research, western medicine has just recently confirmed the profound healing properties of coconut, dispelling decades of misleading information. According to the results of these findings, coconut's unique form of saturated fat actually helps prevent heart disease, stroke and hardening of the arteries. Unlike other oils and fats, coconut oil contains a large amount of the fatty acid known as lauric acid, which is the predominant fatty acid found in mother's milk.

The lauric acid makes breast milk easily digestible, it strengthens the immune system and protects against viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Studies have shown coconut oil's effectiveness with HIV, SARS, Crohn's Disease, as well as other chronic illnesses. It detoxifies the liver, helps to build lipoproteins, fats and hormones and bile, which is necessary for digestion. Coconut's amazing healing properties are also attributed to reducing the risk of other degenerative conditions such as cancer, osteoporosis, and diabetes.

The medium chain fatty acids help to create a healthy digestive tract, which in turn allows for better digestion and absorption of the nutrients in our foods. They also speed up metabolism providing an immediate source of energy while supplying fewer calories than other fats making it the oil of choice for weight loss and hypothyroidism. Coconut oil also helps protect against skin cancer and other blemishes, and helps prevent premature aging and wrinkling. As a cooking oil, it is highly resistant to heat and spoilage. In fact, coconut oil has been called "the healthiest dietary oil on earth".

Most coconut oil sold in markets is refined. The excessive heat, bleaching and chemical solvents used in the refining process creates a thick, yellowish-white product that is tasteless and odorless. Only the organic, extra virgin, expeller or hand pressed coconut oil retains its white color, light texture and mild taste, and has the scent of fresh coconut.

Coconut oil is truly an ideal food: It is not hydrogenated, contains no trans fats and has a long shelf life. It is a wonderful substitute for butter or margarine and because it does not revert to trans fatty acids when heated, it is a healthy choice for cooking.

Coconut oil can be substituted for any other oil. Here are two simple and tasty recipes.

Coconut Fried Tofu - serves 2 to 4

1/2 lb. (225 grams) firm or extra firm tofu
coconut oil for frying
shoyu or tamari soy sauce

Slice tofu lengthwise into thirds. Heat oil in a skillet. Add tofu.
Fry each side until golden brown. For extra flavor, coat each
side with shoyu. Serve as a side dish, or cut into 1-inch squares
and add to a green salad dressed with Coconut Dressing.

Coconut Dressing - combined in a cup
1/2 cup (120 ml) coconut oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
5 to 8 drops stevia clear liquid or other sweetener to taste
shoyu or sea salt

Jan London has been a macrobiotic and natural foods chef for 25 years.
The article and recipes are excerpted from her cookbook, Coconut Cuisine
featuring Stevia. An autographed copy can be purchased through
Jan's website, www.happystomach.com

 
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