For the past few decades coconuts have been considered the forbidden food. This is mostly due to their high triglyceride content. Recently however coconuts have made a comeback. Studies show that coconut oil is high in MCT. When digested, the liver turns MCT oil into ketones. Ketones are a high-energy fuel that nourish the brain. Bottom line, coconut oil, or “high energy brain food” is now promoted as a way to prevent and help with neurodegenerative disease that affect glucose metabolism. Two big examples of this type of disease are Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Learning how coconut oil helps with the memory of people afflicted with Alzheimer’s made me want to experiment with my own memory. Instead of the oil however, I wanted to see how coconut milk would affect my own short term memory and attention span. While perhaps, not the most scientific of studies, I decided to see how it would affect my Sudoku time. I played a game of Sudoku immediately before and again immediately after eating this dish. The results were astounding! The speed with which I solved the Sudoku puzzle increased phenomenally!
So, I am now a true believer in the power of the coconut. I do however disagree with the idea of eating a spoonful of coconut oil. My culinary and nutritional work are based on the intrinsic balance found in traditional foods and their cultures. Cultures that have a tradition of using coconuts eat only the fruit and the milk of the coconut and use the butter externally. Additionally, when they cook with coconut or with its milk, they do so in combination with strong spices which help us to digest heavy and fatty food. So, while I am now able to eat my coconut and feel good about it, I am going to stick with the ancient tradition of eating the fruit and the milk and using coconut butter as a moisturizer.
Below is a kugel recipe which uses coconut milk. The heaviness of the coconut milk means that you don’t miss the oil and eggs which are normally a staple kugel ingredient. For a dramatic effect, serve this dish on a platter with grilled Shitaki mushrooms. The dark of the mushrooms next to the yellow,and red of the kugel makes everyone go ”Wow!”
- olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- 1″ ginger, grated
- 2″ chilli pepper, diced (or 1/2 tsp chilli flakes)
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 2 stalks lemongrass, cut into small pieces
- 4 stalks coriander, diced
- salt and pepper
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 cups polenta
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup coconut milk
Oil the bottom of a sauce pan. Saute the onions for a few minutes until soft. Add the remaining spices and saute for one minute more. Add the water and the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the red pepper and coriander and then slowly pour in the polenta, while briskly stirring the whole time to prevent lumps. Keep stirring the polenta for a few minutes while it cooks. The polenta is ready when it starts to thicken and pull away from the pan.
Pour the polenta in to an oiled baking pan. Allow the polenta to cool slightly and then cut into serving size cubes.
This dish can be served immediately or refrigerated and reheated for Shabbat lunch.
Serves 6-8 as a side dish.
Recipe sent by.