Inspired living

3 recipes to give you a daily dose of coconut


Although many cultures have enjoyed the benefits of coconut, for many of us coconut is a relatively new superfood that has emerged into the public eye in recent times. The Beauty of this exotic ingredient, aside from its many health claims, is that it can be used to create some of the most delicious healthy meals, from breakfast and lunch through to dinner.

If you’re trying to curb sugar cravings, coconut is one of the most satisfying ingredients for a devoted sweet tooth. Its creamy texture and subtle sweetness allow it to combine well with many flavours, making coconut products an excellent foundation for a decadent sweet snack or sumptuous dessert. Saying goodbye to sugar may be difficult but the good news is you can satisfy your tastebuds with interesting, unique ingredients without the use of processed sugar and sugar substitutes.

Combining shredded coconut and extra-virgin coconut oil is a wonderful way to boost the nutritional content of your cooking. Both of these ingredients have different powerful health benefits. Shredded coconut comes from the flesh of the coconut and is high in fibre, with about 58 per cent of the carbohydrate content coming from fibre, making it a great addition to a weight-loss program as it will leave you feeling fuller for longer.

The high fibre content of shredded coconut is also very supportive of intestinal health, as it feeds friendly bacteria that are crucial in allowing your gut flora to flourish. If you are eating it in moderation, this helps keep digestive threats such as candida under control. Coconut has also been found to prevent and relieve the symptoms of Crohns disease, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and other digestive disorders. When looking for shredded coconut, it’s important to read labels and purchase organic shredded coconut where possible, free from added sugar and preservatives.

Coconut oil has amazing health benefits and, contrary to the popular beliefs that have surrounded this oil about it being high in saturated fat, coconut oil is now being described as “the healthiest oil on earth”. This is because, unlike other saturated fats that are made up of long-chain fatty acids, coconut oil is made up primarily of medium-chain fatty acids that do not have negative effects on cholesterol, nor do they contribute to heart disease.

Like coconut flesh, the oil has significant benefits to digestive health, too. Coconut oil is antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory and has been found to prevent and treat an array of health conditions. Coconut water from young green coconuts is also a delicious way to hydrate the body. If you are looking at purchasing ready-made coconut water, remember to check the label for any added sugars or preservatives.

For a delicious anytime snack, Chocolate Chip Coconut Bars are the perfect choice to give you energy that will be long lasting. I have added cacao, another emerging superfood, to the breakfast recipe below, as it is hailed for its high antioxidant activity and is a wonderful source of minerals. In fact, cacao beans have been found to be the number one source of magnesium compared with any other foods and contain four times the quantity of antioxidants found in green tea.

Cacao has also been found to increase the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and endorphins, acting as an anti-depressant and giving you a pleasurable sensation and sense of wellbeing. Cacao can help you get all of the wonderful benefits of dark chocolate without the unfortunate drawbacks of consuming the sugar and harmful additives that are found in many chocolate products.

If you are looking for a convenient way to add the benefits of these delicious superfoods to your diet, why not try introducing them into your cooking?



Chocolate Chip Coconut Bars

How about a delicious, healthy breakfast bar for a nutritious breakfast on the run? These bars are a wonderful alternative to the regular sugar-laden slice. In fact, there is an emerging movement away from the unhealthy baked goods we have so commonly accepted to a style of baking that uses healthy, local and seasonal alternatives as people become more educated and conscious of the dangers of simple sugars.


Makes 12 bars

Prep time: 10 mins

Refrigeration time: 20 mins



1 cup shredded coconut

1½ tbsp raw cacao nibs

2/3 cup nut butter (almond, cashew or mixed)

8 drops liquid stevia

1 tsp vanilla (optional)

â…“ cup extra-virgin coconut oil



In a bowl, place coconut and cacao.

Melt nut butter over boiling water and add stevia, vanilla and coconut oil, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and mix it through dry ingredients.

Press into a baking dish and refrigerate until set.

Remove from fridge and slice into rectangular bars.



Chilled Avocado & Coconut Soup

Soup is such a wonderful, soulful tonic that is particularly calming, soothing and easily digested at lunchtime. The addition of coconut milk to this delicious soup provides a wonderfully rich source of manganese, zinc and copper.


Makes 4 servings

Prep time: 10 mins

Chill time: 20 mins



1 brown onion, chopped

2 avocados, ripe, pitted, peeled & mashed

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3–4 cups homemade vegetable stock

½ cup coconut milk

1 lemon freshly squeezed

1 tbsp lemon rind

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp ground cumin

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 garlic clove, crushed

Celtic Sea Salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Lime quarters to garnish



Sauté onion in olive oil until browned.

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined.

Place in bowl and chill until serving.



Vegetable Quinoa Curry

This exotic vegetable quinoa curry with coconut milk is a wonderful meal to include in your transition to a lifestyle of health. Cook up a massive double portion and freeze the leftovers for those busy weeknights or work lunches. I promise your body and tastebuds will be jumping for joy!


Serves 4

Prep time: 7 mins

Cook time: 23 mins



1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 cups baby green beans

2 tsp minced garlic

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 large onion, cut into strips

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp turmeric powder

1½ tbsp coconut oil

1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets

½ cup cashews

4 carrots, peeled & thinly sliced

2 cups vegetable stock or water

1 cup coconut milk

¾ cup chopped coriander



Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add quinoa, cooking for 5 minutes.

Add green beans and cook for a further 5 minutes. Drain and set aside in a colander.

In a frying pan, sauté garlic, ginger and onion in coconut oil, push to one side and toast cumin and coriander and turmeric for a couple of minutes, stirring consistently.

Add cauliflower, cashews and carrots and stirfry for a couple of minutes, then add stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and stir through coconut milk, cooking for 10–15 minutes.

Remove from stove and stir coriander through and then fold in quinoa and green beans.


Lee Holmes

Lee Holmes is a nutritionist, yoga and meditation teacher, wholefoods chef, Lifestyle Food Channel’s Healthy Eating Expert, blogger and author of the best-selling books Supercharged Food: Eat Your Way to Health, Supercharged Food: Eat Yourself Beautiful, Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian, Heal your Gut, Eat Right for Your Shape and Supercharged Food for Kids.

Lee’s food philosophy is all about S.O.L.E. food: sustainable, organic, local and ethical. Her main goal is to alter the perception that cooking fresh, wholesome, nutrient-rich meals is difficult, complicated and time-consuming. From posting recipes, her passion to share her autoimmune disease story and help others has snowballed and the blog has recently taken home the overall prize at the Bupa Health Influencer Awards as well as the best blog in the Healthy Eating category. She also runs a four-week online Heal Your Gut program.