If you haven’t heard the latest miracle cure for everything is coconut oil. I mean you can rub it on your skin, shampoo it into your hair, cook with it, put it in your food as a supplement, the list goes on and on. I do have a little familiarity with coconuts. Our last home had coconut palms all across the backyard. We lived in South Florida on a lake and it was beautiful. These coconuts were part of our life from the minute we moved in to the new home. What would your kids do if they had fifteen coconuts in their backyard on any given day? That’s right, they’d try to crack them.
Coconuts are tough nuts to crack. They have an outer husk, a hard shell and then a thinner shell to which the meat adheres. Long story short you need the right tools for the job. We tried a few times with my husbands hammers etc but it just didn’t do the trick. We did our research and learned that first you remove the outer husk in strips. I know you’ve seen people on Survivor doing this– they’re right on. I trotted down to the local Walmart and bought a machete. You don’t need a permit and it was a nice one. Or at least that is what the checker from Southeast Asia told me. And I figured she knew her machetes. Back to removing the husk. You get it started with the machete. Then you will find three circular indentions kind of like a bowling ball or a face. You poke one of these holes with something sharp. We usually used a barbecue skewer. You clear out that hole and drain the coconut milk out. It doesn’t taste all that great but it’s super good for you. It is also hermetically sealed inside the coconut so if you were in the jungle and you needed an IV it could be used (always thought that was an interesting factoid). Also, poking the hole lets air into the nut cavity of the coconut and its easier to crack. So you drain the milk and you’re ready to crack the nut with the machete. My kids never handled the machete but they always wanted to. BAM! One quick blow would do it. It would burst into pieces. Then you had the fun job of getting the meat off the inner shell. No easy task. We found the best way was to heat the pieces in a 300 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Let it cool and use a sharp pairing knife.
Like I said I have some experience with coconuts. But now I’m using it in a entirely new way. When I tell people my mother has Alzheimer’s some ask if I’ve tried coconut oil. I went online and started reading about all the medicinal benefits including helping people with memory impairment. I don’t think coconut oil will cure Alzheimer’s, there isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s…yet. But I think it’s worth a shot to see if it helps in anyway. I started giving my mom, myself and my entire family coconut oil four days ago. There are some things that are important to know about coconut oil. You should buy the non-hydrogenated, virgin, organic, medium to high heat coconut oil if possible. It’s not cheap. And everything I’ve read says you need to start off small like a teaspoon at each meal working your way up to four tablespoons a day. The Great Coconut Experiment has begun!
The first day I put it on mom’s cereal before her yogurt. At lunch I mixed it in with her pasta like olive oil. Then I cooked with it at dinner. Also on the first day I had her do the famous Alzheimer’s test of drawing a clock. I figured I should do proper research if I was going to play armchair Gerontologist.
I haven’t noticed much improvement in my mom’s memory. In fact she had a nurse’s assessment today and couldn’t remember the year, day or season. But I have noticed some changes. She seems to be more engaged in conversation. She’s not content with watching The Weather Channel (she loved The Weather Channel). Now she prefers Golden Girls and Little House on the Prairie. Another strange but interesting new change is stacking the clean dishes. If clean dishes are in the sink drying mom takes them out and lines the up all they way across my countertops like a poltergeist. It sometimes drives me crazy to walk in and see dishes all across my kitchen. I understand she’s trying to help. She knows they go in the cabinets but sorting and storing is too difficult. Look at what she did yesterday. Isn’t it artistic?
Stacking is a definite improvement. I will keep you posted on any more developments or changes I notice. Like I said, ” Sometimes you feel like a nut…or maybe a just hopeful optimist.” The granola recipe below is adapted from a New York Times favorite. I plan on making it next week.
Coconut Oil Granola With Dried Cherries and Pistachios
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups raw pistachios, hulled
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup chopped dried cherries
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.
2. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add apricots, tossing to combine. Serve with ricotta and fruit, if desired.
Yield: About 9 cups.