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Volume 11 Issue 1
May/June 2005

A Traditional Knowledge Keeper Awakens Spirit Through Stories

A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

Leaves of Three, Let it Be: Poison-ivy & Its Antidote, Jewelweed

Anti-gymnastique Therese Bertherat: A Method to Reveal Your True, Harmonious & Balanced Body

Covenent Groups:
Finding Our “Selves” Through the Small-Group Experience

Editorial

A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts
by Paulette Millis
Paulette Millis


The word coconut comes from the Spanish and Portugese word “coco”, which means monkey face. These explorers found a resemblance to a monkey’s face in the three round “eyes” found at the base of the coconut.

Coconuts, botanically known as “cocos nucifera,” are the fruit of the coconut palm. It is actually classified as a drupe, and not a nut, and is the largest seed known. These “nut bearing” palms are native to Malaysia, Polynesia, and Southeast Asia, and are now prolific in South America, India, the Pacific Islands, Hawaii, and Florida. Because the husk is light and fibrous, it drifted on the oceans to other areas to propagate. The husk was originally burned for fuel by the natives but now a seed fibre, called “coir”, is taken from the husk to make brushes, mats, fishnets, and rope. The saturated fat made from the coconut meat is used for cooking, as well as for non-edibles such as soaps and cosmetics.
Fruit is constantly forming on the coconut palm, as it blooms up to thirteen times a year. Trees yield a tremendous amount of coconuts, sixty per tree in an average harvest, and they produce for seventy to eighty years.

October through December are peak months but coconuts can be found year-round in most markets. Most often the outer husk is removed, stripped down to the hard dark brown shell. Contrary to popular belief, the thin watery juice in the centre is NOT coconut milk, although it is consumed and can be used in recipes. Coconut milk is actually made with the meat of the coconut and water. (see recipe section)
Most people pierce the “eyes” of the coconut and drain the liquid, cracking the coconut apart with a hammer. You may also bake the shell at 350ºF for about twenty minutes, wrap it in a towel, and then place it on a firm surface and crack it in several places with a hammer. Of course you could do as the monkeys do, just fling it onto a cement or rock surface!

The original process of making coconut oil was made from dried coconut, pressed using heat, or it was refined, bleached, and deodorized. The result was an odourless, tasteless, slightly cloudy oil. These boiling and fermentation methods were not ideal. Look for the new patented process of extraction known as a wet process made from the milk of fresh coconuts. The white meat of the coconuts are gently transformed into a smooth milky emulsion through a three step centrifugal process. When solid, it has a rich shade of snowy white.

NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICINAL INFORMATION INFORMATION

Coconuts contain calcium, phosphorus, iron, and some B and C vitamins. Research has revealed a powerhouse of compounds in coconut oil. These benefits are: 1) medium chain triglycerides, 2) anti-microbial fatty acids, and 3) safety. Suppressed immune system, thyroid insufficiency, and weight problems are some of the human health concerns for which coconut oil may help.

Medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oils are digested and handled by the body differently than other fats, and over sixty percent of the fat in coconut oil is medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). Commercial MCT oils do not contain laurate, a particular fatty acid that is in coconut oil. It is this lauric acid that is so important for immune-suppressed individuals.

MCTs are a superior energy choice and they are digested and absorbed quickly. This means that they are not stored as fat tissue by the body. In fact, MCTs have a fat-burning, or thermogenic, effect. Consequently they aid in weight reduction because they keep fat levels down and energy levels up. MCTs also help with digestive problems, e.g. diarrhea, because they are easily absorbed.

Caprylic acid, one of several anti-microbial fatty acids in coconut oil, has been used for decades as a remedy for intestinal yeast infections as it directly kills potentially harmful fungi. Coconut oil contains eight percent caprylic acid. Integrating it into the diet makes a great prevention strategy for yeast overgrowth, particularly if taking antibiotics, as these drugs kill off the good bacteria that control yeast overgrowth.
Other fatty acids in coconut oil are: capric (7%), myristic (18%), palmitic (8%), and oleic (6%). These are all needed by the body for a range of functions but capric acid has demonstrated significant activity against Herpes Simplex-2, Chlamydia, and HIV-1.

Almost fifty percent of coconut oil is comprised of lauric acid, a principal fat found in breast milk. Babies’ intestines are protected from bacterial, protozoal, viral, and fungal infections until the immune system gains strength from this lauric acid.

A safe, anti-microbial substance called monolaurin is made in the small intestines from lauric acid. Dr. Stephen Byrne states that lipid biochemists have shown this monolaurin to inactivate fungi such as Candida albicans, bacteria such as Listeria, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus, and viruses such as Herpes Simplex, Cytomegalovirus, influenza, measles, and HIV. How this works is that monolaurin inactivates microbes by disrupting their lipid (fat) membranes. Benefits of this lauric acid are obvious to immune-suppressed individuals. Other sources are butter, cream, and palm kernel oil.

Dr. Mary Enig, PhD, a well-known lipid biochemist, suggests adding three to four tablespoons of coconut oil (25 grams lauric acid) to the daily diet to reduce the viral load. This is comparable to the levels found in breast milk.

Use coconut oil to sauté veggies, in salad dressings, in cooked cereals, or by eating it off the spoon.
Canned coconut milk contains eleven grams of lauric acid in two cups; six grams in two cups of fresh shredded coconut, or macaroons. (see recipe section)

It is possible that the Polynesians were onto something when they combined coconut and fish dishes, as this combination of coconut oil and fish oil has been shown to decrease levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines while stimulating anti-inflammatory cytokines.

For those of you who still hold those ideas about saturated fats causing heart disease, now disproved, Dr. Mary Enig says the one thing to remember is to use natural unrefined coconut oil, not the old hydrogenated oil of the past.

Coconut oil is helping many with low thyroid function. Many of my clients over the years have struggled with depression, inability to lose weight, hormone imbalance, mood swings, constipation, feeling cold, lack of energy, and fatigue, all related to the functioning of the thyroid gland. We have an epidemic of sub-clinical hypothyroidism, meaning the thyroid is under-functioning, but it does not show up on blood tests, as yet, as a disease state. Of course, one needs to change diet, exercise, balance hormones, etc. to improve this condition and coconut oil is an additional option.

Ray Peat, PhD, a physiologist who works with hormones, states the surge of polyunsaturated oils since World War II has interfered with the function of the thyroid gland. These unsaturated oils block thyroid hormone secretion, its movement in the circulatory system, and the response of tissues to the hormone. Increased levels of estrogen generally result when the thyroid hormone is deficient, leading to hormone imbalance.

These polyunsaturated oils, such as soybean oil, are used for livestock feed because they cause animals to gain weight. They are made up of long chain fatty acids, they have an anti-thyroid effect, and they promote weight gain. One study states they reduced the weight on swine by reducing soy oil and substituting it with saturated animal fat.

Isn’t it interesting that people today want “lean” pork, so the pigs are being fed saturated fats, while we continue to gain weight, often ignorantly consuming the polyunsaturated soy and corn oils. As Peat says, “Lean pigs and obese people...”.

As mentioned above, MCTs are known to increase metabolism and promote weight loss. Coconut oil may also raise basal body temperature.

There are reports of hormonal balance, mood stability, stamina, overall energy, weight loss, greatly improved sleep, reduced migraines, and raised body temperature, all attributed to coconut oil. Experts say to take 3 to 4 tablespoons a day. It is also a great after-shower skin moisturizer.

Coconut milk replaces liquid, potassium, sodium, and calcium, lost through sweating. So take a coconut milk-based drink after working out to prevent the muscle cramps and weakness that can result from loss of these minerals through sweating.

BUYING, COOKING, AND STORING

When buying coconuts look for a quality nut that is heavy for its size, and when shaken you can hear the liquid slosh around. Do not choose one without liquid as this indicates spoilage, and avoid “eyes” that are wet or moldy.

Shredded coconut has less than three percent moisture content and about 68 percent oil. Buy only sugar-free desiccated coconut which is available in all good health food stores. These stores also carry organic canned coconut milk, a kitchen staple! Add coconut milk to soups, shakes, or anywhere as a dairy substitute. Cook your whole grain breakfast cereal in coconut milk; try oat flakes. Cook brown rice or other grains in coconut milk for a taste treat as well. Try mixing fresh carrot juice 3:1 with coconut milk for a creamy treat. When feeling flu-like, use one cup of homemade chicken broth with one cup of coconut milk for a great meal as the gelatin in the chicken stock helps to settle the intestines, and the coconut gives some fat for energy. You may also mix coconut milk with any nut milk for a delicious combination milk.

Coconut oil is saturated, therefore very stable and safe. It stays fresh without refrigeration and has a shelf life of three to five years at room temperature. Use coconut oil, in place of butter, for baking, to sauté, melted in salad dressings, and by just eating it off the spoon!


 RECIPES

COCONUT MILK

Awesome in smoothies, or with fresh carrot juice!

2 cups organic coconut shreds, unsweetened
4 cups very hot water

Pour hot water over coconut in a blender and let it sit for 20 minutes. Blend for 2–3 minutes and press through a fine sieve. Discard dry pulp. Makes 4 cups.


COCONUT TOMATO SOUP

1/4 can coconut milk
1 cup heated tomato or V-8 juice

Heat and serve.
– Dr. Mary Enig


COCONUT MACAROONS
Easy!

2 cups organic shredded coconut, unsweetened
4 tbsp warm pure water
2 whole eggs, slightly beaten
2 tbsp melted honey
2 tsp coconut oil

Oil a large cookie sheet with the coconut oil. Mix the warm water and the honey together in a medium bowl. Add the coconut. Beat in the eggs. When well mixed, form into balls with a spoon and drop onto oiled sheets. Bake at 400ºF for 12 to 15 minutes. Yields approximately two dozen.

– adapted from Tropical Traditions


COCONUT MAYONNAISE

Even easier than the one in my book! Use this recipe to replace commercial mayonnaise.

1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Put the eggs mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into a food processor or blender. Using a very low speed, start adding the oils very slowly. This is extremely important—start out with drops and gradually increase to about a 1/16 inch stream. It should take about two minutes to add the oil. Continue blending until there is no free standing oil. Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Great in vegetable dips!

– from Tropical Traditions


CHICKPEA CURRY*

1 chopped garlic clove
a bit of ground coriander
1/2 tsp whole peppercorn (optional)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup coconut milk (canned is best)
1 tbsp curry powder
1 potato cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 tomatoes cut in wedges or 1 can
of tomatoes
some basil (10 fresh leaves)
1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
1 tsp honey (optional)
1 tbsp tamari sauce

Mash garlic, coriander, and peppercorns if using in a mortar to form a paste. Heat oil and briefly fry the paste, than add the coconut milk, stirring well. Stir in remaining ingredients in order, bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Serve with brown rice. You can mash the potatoes when tender with a fork to make a thicker sauce. I like this for breakfast!


PEANUT COCONUT CREAM

1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup organic peanut butter

Blend well and serve over brown rice, other grains, or on cereal.


COCONUT CRUST

1/4 cup coconut oil, butter, or ghee
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Oil a large pie plate. Mix the ingredients well and press into the pie plate. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on wire rack. Spoon in filling of choice.


*taken from Nutrition, Cooking and Healing, Paulette Millis, RNC, RSW.

References: Foods that Heal, Bernard Jensen, MD; Alive Magazine, July 2000; Tropical Traditions: I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts, Dr. Stephen Byrne, PhD; www.passionateaboutfood.com; www.homecooking.com.

The above information regarding nutritious food is not intended to replace any instruction from medical or health professionals.

Paulette Millis lives and works in Saskatoon as a counsellor and nutritional consultant. Her cookbook, Nutrition, Cooking and Healing, is available in health food stores, or by calling Paulette at
(306) 244-8890, or visit www.geocities.com/paulettemillis.

 

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