Having grown up on the island of Madagascar, Nathalie Fraise dedicates her new cookbook ‘The Whole Coconut‘ to an extraordinary fruit that I’m sure all of us have used at some point to cook or bake with, and to drink and nourish ourselves, given its myriad uses. How can one single fruit be so versatile and deliver so many benefits?
Coconut was a staple in Fraise’s childhood and cooking.
She terms: “Trucks piled with coconut made their way to the capital Antananarivo” – where she lived. During her childhood vacations to the coast, “they would buy fresh coconut from local children who harvested them, drank their water, ate the meat and preserved the shells as bowls to enjoy fresh fish and meals by the beach”.
Sounds like paradise living, doesn’t it?
Many of Fraise’s childhood memories go back to what coconut represented for her, nostalgic and as comfort food. As an adult, she lest Madagascar for Northern California. She recounts how over the years, she experienced great trouble trying to maintain a balanced body weight, realizing that her way of eating needed to radically changed.
And it did.
Coconut started to make its way back into her cooking, and with its intrinsic properties she started to use it in both sweet and savory dishes. For some of you, coconuts have been a staple food. I think of my friends Ev or Karené who both currently live in South Africa. I’m sure their access to fresh, young and abundant coconut is easy and direct.
For the rest of us, although we don’t necessary enjoy having trucks piled with this extraordinary fruit, we can usually find fresh coconut in many groceries and farmer’s markets close to home.
You may have also heard from me before, that although I don’t pursue 100% gluten-free or dairy-free cooking or baking, I embrace it. The recipes in Fraise’s debut cookbook underscore whole foods, minimally processed ingredients, and natural sugars and all of the recipes are gluten and dairy-free. She offers suggestions on how to adapt omnivore recipes to a vegetarian diet and clearly emphasizes the use of unrefined sea salt and urges us to do it equally. In the first pages of the book, Fraise also offers a clear and comprehensive guide to coconut ingredients, including coconut aminos, coconut flour, coconut meat, coconut milk (how to make coconut milk at home), coconut nectar, coconut oil, coconut palm sugar, and coconut vinegar.
The book is divided into six chapters, with distinctive recipes for every meal of the day – Breakfast, Main Courses, Salad and Sides, Snacks, Drinks and Desserts.
From the Salad and Sides chapter, I chose an appetizer, including coconut flakes that I generally have in my pantry. The recipe suggests lightly toasting them in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. The dressing is quite simple and has the two main ingredients I routinely use in homemade dressing, olive oil and lemon juice.
The components of the salad I chose to highlight from her book hold naturally crisp textures, loaded with fiber and quite satisfying if one decides to enjoy them as a main course. Although I don’t use jicama, often, I do kale.
This recipe underscores how tough kale leaves can be, and suggests presenting them shredded along with grated jicama and thinly sliced apples which together contrasts and balances the kale bitter taste “beautifully.”
The Whole Coconut is a handy resource in the use of an indispensable ingredient in many varied cuisines and recipes. All of us who are lucky to have access to this extraordinary fruit – many call it a ‘Superfood’ – a marketing term mainly – I would rather call it a ‘Transformational fruit’ for its polymorphic uses globally not only in cooking but also in the beauty and medical fields.
For anyone who defines him or herself as a coconut lover and connoisseur, I would say without hesitation that The Whole Coconut is for you!
I have received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
- 1 cup coconut flakes
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- ¼ tsp fleur de sel or sea salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp coconut milk
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 bunches lacinato kale (about 1 pound) steamed and julianned
- 1 medium jicama ends trimmed, peeled and grated
- 1 crisp apple, quartened, cored, and thinly sliced
- ½ cup walnuts, toasted
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Line a baking shee with unbleached parchment paper.
- Place the coconut flakes in a medium bowl, drizzle with the coconut oil, and mix well.
- Lay the coconut flkes on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the fleur the sel. Bake until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully to keep from burning. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to cool.
- To make the dressing, in a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, coconut mil, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside.
- Mix the kake, jicama, and apple slices in a large bowl. Add the dressing to the salad and mix well. Serve immediately topped with the toasted coconut and walnuts.
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