If I can’t make it, I won’t eat it.

This is a catchy blog title…and pretty durn accurate.

Our household, in the last few months before our official walk down the aisle, has decided not just to eat “Paleolithically,” but to eliminate every.single.processed.element. (Side note: I love the loose grammar rules of blogs!)

That means vetting every single piece of food that we eat, reading the ENTIRE label (not just the part that says “organic”) and making the appropriate corrections. Heck, we wouldn’t have been eating food that REQUIRED labels had we been truly eating cleanly! For example – I bought Gorton’s frozen “grilled” tilapia several weeks ago, paying attention only to the word “grilled…” and looking at the ingredients, I notice about 20 that are totally unpronounceable. Not cool, Gorton’s.

The lesson? Sometimes we’re not eating as cleanly or healthily as we think we are. Sure, we eliminated dairy, gluten and sugar (other than fruit, of course) and began eating whole foods to boost our nutritional profile…but some things still managed to fly under our radar, from the pre-prepared marinades some of our chicken came soaked in to preservatives in canned diced tomatoes. Even “organic” veggie broths we used for paleo soup weren’t cutting it (good news: turns out veggie broth is VERY easy to home-make!) For this reason, we decided that if we can’t make something from scratch with fresh, whole foods in our very own kitchen, we won’t put it into our bodies.

Case in point: Coconut milk. We buy it canned and use it in our coffee and to spice up the flavor of our paleo pancakes, as well as in our Indian-inspired cooking and in some of our soups (See Carrot-Ginger soup post). While my reading indicates that the one wonky ingredient in organic coconut milk, “guar gum,” is nothing to fret about, I still decided to maintain the principle and attempt to make my own from a fresh coconut. If that wasn’t possible, coconut milk was out.

I am happy to report that I was able to make some extremely delicious, homemade, straight-from-the-coconut milk AT HOME! Here’s how:

I put a whole, organic coconut, husk and all, in a glass dish in the oven and baked it at 325 for 15 minutes. This cracked the coconut for me (brilliant!) and the water drained into the dish. (Update: You can also place the whole coconut in a laundry bag and whack it as hard as possible against the concrete patio. WAY funner.) The coconut water, BTW, was delicious! And apparently so salubrious that hospitals administer it intravenously. (Also Madonna’s new obsession, but who pays attention to her?)

After wresting the meat from the shell, I used a knife to peel off the brown inner skin left on the meat. (This part was a real b*tch.) I then cut the coconut meat into chunks, put the chunks in the blender, covered them with warm filtered water and ground the mix to a pulp. I strained the pulp through a cheesecloth and voila! Coconut milk.

Straining the coconut pulp through the cheesecloth. (AKA "God's Gift.")

It was impossible to tell the difference between my homemade version and the last can we had left in the pantry. We ended up with more than 14 ounces!

While this was a lot of work for essentially the same product I could have found at Wegman’s for $2.50, I appreciate the end product so much more. I think that’s what it’s truly all about – appreciating your foods as much as you crave them, and respecting the process of creating something for at least as much time as you’ll spend eating it.

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5 Responses to “If I can’t make it, I won’t eat it.”

  1. Can you move in with me and be my cook? Huge side benefits.

  2. When possible, I think it’s fun to try and make things we normally take for granted that come iin cans, bottles, etc.

    Sometimes we surprise ourselves and its actually easier.

    Also, it’s great to know HOW to prepare our food, where it comes from and the process. I think it’s way cool and now I will buy a coconut at the store! 😉

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