Now available at almost every grocery store near you, everything coconut is the absolute cat’s meow. Coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut water, coconut pulp – it’s tasty, versatile and oh so good!
My love affair with the famed fruit began long before prepackaged Vita Coco, ONE or ZICO beverages. Coconuts have been part of my daily diet and lifestyle for as long as I can remember.
I spent many Saturday mornings as a young child with my mother and sister, climbing palm trees harvesting, hulling and grating coconuts. It was the way my grandmother had taught my mother to gather food as a child and a tradition my mother was passing on to her daughters.
After hours of laboring, my mother would prepare savory Filipino dishes like Ginataang Kalbasa (squash cooked in coconut milk), Sapin-Sapin (purple yam and coconut milk dessert) and Suman (coconut rice cake). However, my all-time favorite to this day is fresh Buko juice (young coconut water) straight from the coconut.
Although much of the coconut harvested was used for consumption, my mother made it a point to repurpose everything that was collected. The fibrous husks were used as a soil medium for her orchids; the tough nutshell became a makeshift ladle or dish; and the leftover ground coconut and oil were used as hair conditioner, skin moisturizer and as a carrier oil for homemade topical ointments.
At the end of harvest day, mom would generously apply freshly squeezed coconut oil onto our hair and exfoliate our skin with the nourishing coconut grinds. She believed that the coconut oil was Miracle-Gro for healthy, luxurious hair and a great way to treat what locals call haole rot or Tinea Versicolor, a fairly common skin condition caused by an overgrowth of yeast on parts of the body. I became a true believer of the coconut skincare treatment after a four-week application had completely cured the haole rot that had spread to my face.
These days access to coconut fruit is not as easy to come by. Most coconut palm trees are planted for decorative purposes, routinely pruned and and its fruits discarded before reaching its prime. As much as I enjoyed harvesting, hulling, scraping copra and extracting coconut oil the traditional way, store bought products appear to be my only options. To be completely honest, I can appreciate the convenience and ease of not having to worry about tree snakes falling on me as I harvest the nuts, or the fear of chopping off my fingers as I attempt to cut the nut open with a machete.
Regardless of whether they are store bought or freshly grated and pressed, the versatile coconut fruit and oil is an excellent nutritious source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids. It is a super fruit known to lower cholesterol, restore normal thyroid function, and treat skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis.
But hey, don’t take my word for it. A growing band of supporters – including scientists, health professionals and notable celebrity figures like Dr. Oz – are all singing the healing and restorative praises of coconut.
It’s no secret; the mystery of the mighty coconut has been cracked!