Pantry Staple- Coconut Milk

Coconut milk as a pantry staple? Whaaat? Although canned coconut milk probably seems more like a rare occasion item versus a staple item, I think once you are done with this blog post you will find yourself picking up a few cans next time you are at the grocery store. Let me tell you why I use canned coconut milk, the benefits,  my favorite recipe using this ingredient, and what to look for when you are buying canned coconut milk.

First things first, coconut milk is an excellent cream/milk substitute for those who are vegan, dairy free, or lactose intolerant. It can take a dish from 0 to 100 by adding an amazing creamy texture. There are options of either full fat or lite canned coconut milk. I personally tend to lean towards full fat, as it really gives the dishes I use it in the best flavor and richness. Speaking of fat, I should mentioned that canned coconut milk does have a high fat content, which makes it more calorie dense. Opting for the lite version will be less calories of course. People tend to be fearful of foods with a high fat content, but in this case it isn't a bad thing. A small portion of the fat that comes from coconut milk is called MCT (medium chain triglycerides) which has gained popularity in recent years for its health benefits. Coconut milk also has other vitamins and minerals such as; calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and B vitamins. 

My favorite and most common use of canned coconut milk is in soups and curries! Curries are a super easy, versatile, and affordable dinner option. All you need is vegetables, protein of your choice, canned coconut milk, vegetable broth, curry powder (thai or indian), and other seasonings. Here is my absolute favorite chickpea curry recipe, (note: I use full fat, although this recipe calls for lite) this is a staple dinner for me as soon as the weather starts getting colder! You have to try it.

Here are some other ideas for how you can use canned coconut milk:
-Dairy free whipped cream
Try this recipe
-Homemade coconut yogurt (if you are feeling adventurous)
-Dark chocolate chia pudding
- Search for curry recipes on Pinterest for more inspiration :)

When buying canned coconut milk (and other canned products in general) try to find one that is packed in a BPA free can. Stayed tuned for a blog post about BPA. You should also look for unsweetened coconut milk, and ones that are are only two ingredient (coconut and water) if possible, although most cans do contain the thickening agent guar gum which is okay. Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Sprouts in house brands seem to have the best reviews of all the options available.

Be sure to let me know if you try any good recipes using canned coconut milk!

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