Coconut: The new superfood?

Coconut used to be a demon, or at the very least an indulgence: a fluffy-cake topping, a gooey candy-bar filling, the second-best ingredient in a poolside drink. For years, the biggest coconut-based troublemaker was its oil, which is loaded with saturated fat — even more than butter, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

But in the past few years, there’s been a great deal of rethinking about the fruit and its many edible parts. Coconut water is all the rage these days as a natural source of sodium and potassium, two minerals that aid post-workout recovery. And many people now see coconut oil as a health food, at least when you’re talking about virgin coconut oil.

In a new cookbook, “Coconut Every Day,” Sasha Seymour, a former restaurant chef, deifies coconut’s properties further, calling 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.


Sasha Seymour’s new cookbook is “Coconut Every Day: Cooking with Nature's Miracle Superfood.” (Kathleen Finlay)

The recipe for Sasha Seymour’s mushroom tart with caramelized onion cream includes coconut oil. (Kathleen Finlay)

In the foreword, Joy McCarthy, a dietitian and the author of the popular cookbook “Joyous Health,” notes the high fiber content of coconut flour (which also is gluten-free) and coconut’s capacity for aiding with weight loss (“studies have shown that when coconut oil is part of one’s diet, white fat stores are reduced.”)

The book does not offer a thorough explanation of the science behind these claims. It is, after all, a cookbook. Instead, it showcases an array of beautiful food — Seymour is a professional food stylist — and creative ways of using coconut: sweet-and-spicy popcorn topped with coconut oil, coconut sugar, cayenne pepper and salt; pumpkin spice muffins whose ingredients include coconut oil, coconut sugar and coconut milk; and coconut-braised whiskey ribs, a recipe whose name gives away the secret ingredient.

“I got a lot of surprised looks when I’d tell people I was writing a coconut cookbook,” Seymour writes. “But trust me, coconut is on its way to being the next big thing.” Move over, kale.


Fruit salad with vanilla whipped coconut and coconut chips. (Kathleen Finlay)

Thai coconut chicken soup. (Kathleen Finlay)

Nora Krug is a Book World editor and a MisFits columnist.
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