coconut

I don’t know about you, but when the clock strikes daily at 4 o’clock I get this funny feeling… A craving for something sweet.

Like 'elevenses', I'll call it ‘foursies', that time of day when my hand reaches to that packet of biscuits or bar of chocolate.

I am obsessed with an afternoon sweet treat. I just don’t have the will power to say no, especially when I am stuck at a desk, daydreaming about when I can escape to the great outdoors.

We all know that too much artificial sugar isn’t good for us, especially before and after any sort of exercise. In a bid to change my ways, this thing called a coconut has appeared on my radar...

Read on for coconut recipes...

coconut oil water

Coconut in some shape or form is literally everywhere at the moment. Coconut water has replaced celebrities’ latest designer handbags and seems to be the new on-trend hand accessory.

Coconut flour, coconut yogurt, coconut oil…the list goes on. But it was only until coconut was talked about as a sugar replacement that I began to sit up and take notice.

It's new title as a 'superfood' has got people going nuts for coconuts. To give credit where it's due, there are a lot of health benefits of eating this versatile fruit.

Coconuts are high in fibre, help digestion, give an added energy boost and reduce those sweet cravings.

It’s no wonder then that the coconut is being used instead of sugar, but can this really be anywhere near as sweet and naughty as the real sugary stuff?

coconut chunk bars

One of my all­ time favourite snacks is a granola bar.

Recently, however, a friend pointed out that the bars I was eating had almost the same amount of sugar as a normal chocolate bar... and there I was all smug thinking that I was being healthy?

So instead, I made some delicious chewy coconut ‘granola’ bars. You can’t go wrong with these. Each time you make a batch, you can mix it up with the ingredients and that way you don’t get bored chewing the same old stuff

Beware though! Your hands are about to get messy...

Crunchy Coconut Chunks

Makes 10 ­to 12 squares

Ingredients

  • 100g oats
  • 20g coconut
  • 10g pumpkin seeds
  • 10g sunflower seeds
  • 50g chopped mixed nuts (I like a combination of brazil, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts)
  • 4 tablespoons of organic agave syrup (or until it forms a wet mixture, you can use organic honey as an alternative)
  • A handful of raisins (dried apricots, cranberries, berries also work well)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of chai seeds

Pre ­heat oven to 200°c and line a small baking tray with non­-stick baking paper.

Throw all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and get stuck in with your hands.

Toss all the ingredients together and mix well. Make sure there are no lumps of coconut oil hiding anywhere.

Spread the mixture out into the pan, as thick or thick as you want them.

Once in the oven bake for 10­ to 12 minutes or until nicely crisp and brown. When they've cooled, slice into however many pieces you like.

They are crunchy and crumbly, so you can even add them on top of yoghurt with fresh fruits as another alternative.

Coconut Pancake Stack

With pancakes being topical this month, I decided to put coconut to the test and make a stack without any sugar. The recipe is super simple and takes no time at all, even I can whip these up in about 20 minutes.

Take a look at the recipe and don’t be put off by the no sugar and no flour- it really is a delicious brunch, mid-morning snack or any time of the day sweet treat.

Utterly Nutterly Coconut Pancake Stack

Makes 6 to 8 small pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 small mashed up bananas
  • 1 tablespoon of gluten-free rolled oats
  • 40g organic desiccated coconut
  • 3 eggs (beaten)
  • 20g blueberries
  • 20g chopped strawberries
  • A pinch of cinnamon (or as much as you like)

Simply mash up the bananas, add the beaten eggs, oats, coconut, fruit and cinnamon and mix well.

Heat up a pan with a dollop of coconut oil and get flipping and frying.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can use whatever fruit you like from apples, strawberries, or even chopped up cherries.

I served mine with homemade blueberry chai jam, loaded it with more fresh fruit and a dusting of cinnamon. A drizzle of honey also goes down a treat!

Coconut Smoothie

For that early morning hit, try adding coconut to a fruit smoothie, it really gives you that boost before starting the day.

Try adding some oats for a healthy and fulfilling smoothie, especially before hitting the winter waters.

Creamy Coco Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of organic coconut
  • 1 cup of pineapple chunks
  • 1 frozen banana (make sure you peel before freezing!)
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • A few ice cubes

Throw all the ingredients into a blender until smooth and enjoy the coco-crazy smoothie.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think that a little bit of sugar goes a long way, but coconut has really surprised me - I'll definitely be using it for a while to come.