Featured Products: Fun Ways to Use Coconut
You would be surprised that the coconut tree is neither the national fruit (the honor goes to mango) nor the national tree (the sturdy Narra bagged that distinction) of the Philippines. After all, the coconut tree built the nation and brought an economic boom while international demand lasted at least.
We even have a song dedicated to the fruit, which for travelers now represent the idea of the best tropical vacations that certainly break the bank. When times were simpler, Filipinos depend on the coconut for many things, including housing and food. We call it the tree of life for a reason.
As the song goes:
“The coconut bark for the kitchen floor
If you save some of it, you can build the door
Now, the coconut trunk, do not throw this junk
If you save some of it, you’ll have the second floor…
The coconut wood is very good
It can stand 20 years if you pray it would”
TREE OF LIFE
The Coconut Song, written by Filipino composer Ryan Cayabyab, clearly started as a joke. It seems not many from the current generation of Filipinos know that it’s a local song or that it exists—until a video of Baylor University Men’s Choir in-flight performance went viral. As funny as it sounds, the song tells us how much the coconut tree is valued for its versatility and durability. Come on, where else you hear fruit so unique that it gets its own song (and internationally validated)?
Coconut remains to be one of the major export crops of the Philippines. About 3.6 million hectares of consolidated land area in 68 out of the total 81 provinces are covered with coconut plantation. The latest data from the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) reports that coconut production was recorded at 3.31 metric tons in 2019. This makes the Philippines the world’s second-largest coconut producer next to Indonesia.
The latest data from the PCA also reveals that there are currently 3.5 million coconut farmers; about 2.5 million of that number are directly or solely dependent on the coconut industry. Unfortunately, that means the livelihood of these coconut farmers is at the mercy of the ebb and flow of local and international demand for coconut products.
Despite tight competition against popular alternatives in the world market, the miracle tree produces a billion-dollar agricultural commodity sought worldwide for many applications. From the fruit alone, coconut needs little or no processing to extract the coconut juice and coconut oil for export to EU countries and the United States. The rich amount of soil minerals and water present in coconut plantations enhance the taste and quality of the Philippine coconut.
Coconut water, in particular, brought back the discussion of the actual health benefits that coconut products can get to the human body. The Philippines aims to benefit from the recent coconut water market boom in the US, which is projected to reach 8.3 billion USD by 2023, according to Statista. The appeal of coconut water is riding on the consumer trend that favors unadulterated and low-calorie organic drinks to replace sugary beverages like soda.
Coconut water is being marketed as the healthier sports drink alternative. Numerous studies and nutritionists confirm that coconut water delivers five times more potassium (11.2-ounce serving has 690 mg potassium) than Gatorade or Powerade (12-ounce serving has 140 mg only). Potassium is responsible for eliminating muscle cramps and enhances muscle recovery after strenuous physical activity. You won’t hate coconut water for trashing your effort in the gym as the 8.5-ounce serving, when unsweetened, has 40 calories only.
Meanwhile, coconut oil is making a comeback in the US market as a better-tasting periodic alternative to other cooking oils and butter. When consumed in moderation along with healthy eating habits, coconut oil can increase (HDL) good cholesterol and is less harmful than soybean oil and butter in terms of increasing LDL (bad) cholesterol. Several studies also suggest that coconut oil has a positive effect on weight loss and metabolism, even without intentionally reducing calories. Keep in mind, however, that most studies done on coconut oil were small, showed modest results, and need further scientific investigation.
Coconut oil has also become the latest beauty trend in the US. For skincare products, manufacturers use virgin coconut oil, which is produced by manual extraction from the fresh, white flesh of coconut without application of heat or chemical alteration of the oil. Recently, videos surfaced on Tiktok that recommend coconut oil as a more effective organic moisturizer for skin and hair without the risk of unknown and harmful chemicals that companies may be hiding from their customers.
Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids that are notable for their antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects that can reduce acne breakouts and provide a protective barrier to the skin. Indeed, many studies back this claim, but it should be noted that coconut oil reportedly works well for people who don’t have non-problematic skin but not for those who are experiencing severe dryness or oiliness.
Can’t get enough of these exciting discoveries? We give you a rundown of enjoyable ways you can benefit from coconut:
1. COCONUT JUICE/WATER
Coconut water is best served when chilled. It’s refreshing and tastes naturally sweet even without adding sugar. Try freezing Lipa Coconut Juice into ice cubes, then add them to a glass of lemonade drink to sweeten your dink. You can also use coconut water when whipping up your morning smoothie to replace lost fluids during sleep.
Hate hangovers? Infuse your cocktail with Lucia Young Coconut Juice with Pulp to minimize dehydration and add zest. Trying to saute your veggies but concerned about the oil? Swap the canola oil or olive oil for coconut water and use it to slightly caramelize the dish and bring out umami flavor.
And for the rice-loving folks reading this blog: replace plain water with fresh coconut water when cooking rice and let us know what you think (you can thank us later).
2. COCONUT MILK
Do you know what makes curry luscious and fragrant? Coconut milk. Instead of using heavy cream, stick to the Asian tradition of using coconut milk to give your curry dish full-bodied and deep flavors. Don’t worry, coconut milk is actually a nutrient-dense source of fat that absorbs easily into your body to be converted to energy.
With that in mind, why not use Chaokoh Coconut Milk or Mae Ploy Coconut Milk, or Chef’s Choice Coconut Milk for your creamed corn recipe? Coconut milk generally has the same consistency as cow’s milk but adds creamy and nutty notes that go well with the buttery flavor of corn. In the Philippines, Mais Maja Blanca, a coconut pudding that is a sort of Filipino version of creamed corn, gets its shock-white color, gentle sweetness, and clean, earthy appeal from generous amounts of coconut milk.