Rosanna Davison: The benefits of coconut
Due to the various health benefits of coconut flesh, milk and water and their nutrients essential to human health, the coconut palm has been dubbed 'the all-giving tree' in Indian culture.
All of its parts are used in various ways to support the health of people native to coconut growing regions, mainly in tropical countries.
You may have heard a bit about the benefits of using coconut oil as a hair mask, lip balm, body scrub and moisturiser, but eating coconut is also incredibly nourishing for your skin. In fact, all forms of coconut, from the meat to the milk and the water, have youth-promoting properties for your complexion.
Coconut water is widely available now and while it isn't quite the same as the very fresh version, it still contains a range of electrolytes similar to your blood, making it excellent for rehydrating you in warmer weather or if you're active, and helping to maintain hydrated skin. Good hydration is so important for preventing wrinkles and dry skin, plus it helps to reduce dark under eye circles and other signs of ageing.
To look its very best, skin must be properly hydrated, yet various environmental factors plus caffeine, alcohol and smoking can really cause it to dry out if the fluids aren't being properly replaced.
The powerful elements in coconut water include potassium to encourage healthy blood pressure, plus iron, lauric acid, magnesium and calcium. It also supports your immune system and acts add an antioxidant.
It is much more beneficial it is to cook with coconut oil than other popular oils like olive and sunflower oil, as they tend to be more unstable at high temperatures. However, coconut oil remains stable at high temperatures and its powerful antibacterial and anti-fungal properties also mean that it can protect your skin from breakouts and infections, plus it supports adrenal health and helps to stabilise blood sugar levels.
While its best to use all oils in moderate quantities, the saturated fats in coconut oil have been found in recent studies to actually improve your health and leave cholesterol levels unaffected. It's used by the body for energy, helps to nourish your thyroid gland and naturally balance your hormones.
These Coconut and Fig Cream Slices make a healthier summer dessert option, as they're naturally sweetened and made with whole foods.
Coconut and Fig Cream Slices
For the base layer:
14 dried apricots
5 dates, pitted and soaked in hot water for 10 minutes to soften
120g raw pecan nuts
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
1 tsp cinnamon
For the coconut cream layer:
65g unsalted raw cashew nuts, soaked in cold water for two hours to soften
1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
½ tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla seeds/extract
2-3 fresh figs, sliced, to decorate
1. Place the apricots, soaked dates, pecans, vanilla extract and liquid sweetener in a food processor and blend until a sticky dough forms. Use a splash of cold water to help blend, if necessary.
2. Press the dough into a baking tray or tin and ensure it's smooth and even. Place in the freezer to set.
3. Drain the cashews well and place them in a blender. Carefully open the coconut milk without shaking the can. The cream should have separated from the water. Spoon out two tablespoons of the hardened coconut cream into the blender.
4. Add the liquid sweetener, coconut oil and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Use a splash of cold water to help blend, if necessary.
5. Remove the base layer from the freezer and smooth on the coconut cream layer.
6. Allow the mixture to set in the freezer for about an hour, then remove and decorate with sliced fresh figs.
7. Slice carefully with a sharp knife and serve chilled.