• October 31, 2014

Experiment with coconut-infused dishes, treats

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Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 4:30 am

Coconut is one of my favorite flavors.

From cakes and pies as a child to Asian and Latin-inspired dishes flavored with coconut milk as an adult, I’ve been using coconut in cooking for years.

While some say the fruit should be used sparingly, mostly because of the high saturated fat content in coconut oil, I’ve always been drawn to its flavor.

In a new cookbook, “Coconut Every Day,” Sasha Seymour, a former restaurant chef, calls the fruit not just a superfood but a miracle superfood. “A saturated fat that gets burned like a carbohydrate? And that can increase your metabolism and lower your cholesterol” — and that “tastes good, to boot!” she writes.

That’s music to my ears, and another reason to support my love of coconut.

COCONUT YOGURT POPS

3 cups nonfat vanilla yogurt (not Greek)

1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

½ teaspoon coconut extract

Combine yogurt, coconut flakes and coconut extract in a medium bowl. Divide among 10 3-ounce (or similar-size) freezer-pop molds. Insert sticks and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours. Dip the molds briefly in hot water before unmolding.

CHICKEN COCONUT CURRY

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size cubes

6 teaspoons curry powder, divided

¾ teaspoon salt, divided

2 tablespoons coconut oil or canola oil, divided

1 large onion, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 14-ounce can light coconut milk

1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth

4 cups 1-inch chunks Yukon Gold potatoes

1 cup sliced carrots

½ cup chopped celery

¾ cup frozen peas

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

Place chicken in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon curry powder and ¼ teaspoon salt; toss to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring once or twice, until mostly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the pot and add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is starting to soften, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the remaining 5 teaspoons curry powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add coconut milk, broth, potatoes, carrots, celery and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and carrots are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Return the chicken to the pot and add peas. Increase heat to high and cook until the chicken is cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in cilantro and brown sugar.

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