I still remember the flavour of my Jamaican aunt’s rice and peas, it was amazing, delicious and, to me, unrepeatable. I loved how fluffy it was and the way it stuck together. And one of the ingredients which makes rice and peas taste so great is coconut.
The humble coconut has a significant place in Caribbean culture because it is so useful. As well as in food it can be used for your hair, healing, metabolism, skin, digestion and stress relief. In fact, around the world the coconut tree is probably the most versatile organic raw material there is, it has so many uses. You can even buy coconut flour as a gluten free alternative to wheat flour.
But coconut oil in cooking has received a bad press for years. That’s because it is high in saturated fat which is linked with increased cholesterol. But recently this has been brought into question. Coconut oil has been found to be easier to digest than any of the listed ‘bad fats’ because of its unique molecular structure. This should mean that it does not raise cholesterol, but, truth be told, the jury is still out.
The list of benefits from coconut oil is very big and there are even diets based around the coconut. It contains an acid called lauric acid which is found in breast milk and is beneficial to your immune system. It believed to be especially beneficial if you suffer from candida. It cooks at a high temperature without breaking down and yet has a light, non-greasy taste. Finally, coconut is versatile enough to use as a dairy-free butter/spread or for making raw smoothies and desserts.
But whatever you use your coconut for, even if your meals are transformed by its exotic, creamy flavour, it’s never going to taste as good as my aunt’s rice and peas.