Funny to think that, as a child, I thought of coconuts as fairground shies, or Bounty chocolate bars. Yet coconuts are far more versatile than that.
Coconuts produce coconut oil, coconut flesh, coconut milk, and coconut water, naturally and healthily.
Like hemp, coconut is nourishing, health-giving, and practical too. Think coir matting.
Coconuts act as body moisturiser, teeth-cleaner, digestion-soother, rehydrater. And more.
Coconut even sorts out head lice, according to Dr Mercola’s wondrous list of coconut’s varied uses.
If you love scientific facts and opinion with lots of swear words, check out Shannon’s Kitchen on coconut’s versatility and health reputation.
My coconut musing is prompted by a hamper full of coconut joy sent by Cocofina.
Cocofina have been cracking coconuts since 2005. The name says it all: Cocofina is made from fine young coconuts picked at their peak when its water is at its most plentiful.
To add to my joy, Cocofina is certified organic (by the Soil Association), which is shorthand for healthily-grown food, with no chemical fertilisers/pesticides to pollute soil, air, crops, wildlife and farm workers.
Cocofina’s big triumph is to produce delicious on-the-go nutrition energy bars. I sampled them with various energy-snack (and coconut) lovers, and their praise was unstinting.
And I love its coconut nectar – low-GI slow-release sweetness without that crazy thing that happens to my eyes (as if they are being squeezed) when I eat sugar.
(Pause to reflect on sugar – how it drove slavery, and now makes mental slaves of us all via obesity and the money markets).
To celebrate coconut happiness, I made banana cake, substituting sugar with coconut nectar, and coconut oil instead of butter.
Along with pre-soaked sultanas, this recipe produced a light, healthy cake, its bananariness lifted by nectar and complimented by coconut.
If you don’t have self-raising flour, add an extra egg. Keep the baking powder/bicarbonate of soda to a scant teaspoon – just enough to lighten the flour but not too much to impart its strange fizzy taste. Or even (boldly) omit and rely on beaten eggs instead.
2/3 large mashed ripe or over-ripe bananas (up to 500g/1lb)
125g (4oz) butter/coconut oil, softened
125g (4oz) caster sugar/4 Tablespoons coconut flower nectar or honey
2 large eggs, lightly beaten with a fork until frothy with air
250g (8oz) self-raising flour (or ordinary flour with extra egg) I used gram flour made from chickpeas because wheat (argumentative fellow) does not agree with me.
1 scant tsp baking powder/bicarbonate of soda
Optional extras: sultanas soaked in water and drained, walnut pieces, cocoa nibs/lemon rind.
Oil 2lb loaf tin and line its base and sides with baking parchment/greaseproof paper.
Rub in the oil/butter/fat into the flour (+ lightening agent if used) until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sweetener and mashed bananas and lightly beaten eggs beating it well.
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
Turn into the tin and bake for about 1 hour until a skewer comes out clean, covering if necessary so the top does not burn.
This recipe is a great way to use up over-ripe bananas.