Eating Humble "Coconut" Pie

Oat, Chia and Coconut Milk Fruit Parfaits from ashaFSK
Oat, Chia and Coconut Milk Fruit Parfaits from ashaFSK

So, it seems I have been getting a lot of life lessons recently. After that very eye opening conversation with a gym trainer, I have gone on to making some changes and embracing many others are they are. Understanding what really is and what really doesn't need to change and just accepting it to be as it is... and it's just fine!

My current book of choice and learning is "Quiet" by Susan Cain where she talks about the power of introverts and the quiet strength that a inward focused person brings to any society. She also talks about the creative process is sometimes best accomplished through solitude and undisturbed deliberate focus.

Another realm of learning recently is the subject of this post.. my subjectivity on coconut products. If you have been in any way involved in the food media, you could not have escaped the sudden and definitive rise of popularity of coconut based products from replacement dairy to substitute sugar and every thing made from them in between!

Understand what really is and which doesn't need to change

Oat, Chia and Coconut Milk Fruit Parfaits from ashaFSK
Oat, Chia and Coconut Milk Fruit Parfaits from ashaFSK

I, meanwhile, have been a heavy skeptic of the whole 'trend', 'fad' what'camacallit. The reason being, much of the touted superiority of coconut fats are entirely false and also because having grown up with it from a toddler, I can NOT get away from the pungency of its flavor.

I grew up in a garden of coconut trees and an overabundance of things and dishes made with them.

Let me start with the science.

People have been substituting everything from olive oil to milk and milk products with coconut driven ones. Coconut cream in place of whipped cream in desserts and ice creams; coconut oil instead of olive or vegetable oils and coconut sugar for cane sugar. These are certainly great experiments...  

The truth is coconut fats are no more healthier, and, in fact potentially worse, particularly, if you overconsume. Coconut oil, cream, etc. are high in saturated fats and using them on a high basis certainly can cause coronary disease. 

Fact: The incidence of heart diseases in Kerala, the region where coconut is the primary source of fat is any lower than the rest of the country where canola, peanut and sunflower oils reign!

The second issue I have is the flavor. I grew up in a garden of coconut trees and an overabundance of things and dishes made with them.  Although not from Kerala, I hail from the neighboring state where the nut/fruit is extensively used in cooking (though not as oil which is reserved for long tresses!).

The thing is, it has a very, very strong flavor. One that is very hard to mask or pair with easily. So, I really don't understand how people can use it so much and be de-sensitized to the taste... unless it weren't the real thing!

Now, with that non-endorsing start, you must be wondering what the humility is all about.

Oat Chia Coconut Milk Parfaits via ashaFSK
Oat, Chia and Coconut Milk Fruit Parfaits from ashaFSK

So, last week, as I was preparing for my upcoming trip to Europe, I ran out of milk and yogurt for my morning breakfast. I also ran out of granols, which, isn't an issue, since I love oatmeal in the cold months. The only thing I had was half a can of thick coconut milk from a Asian curry evening. So, despite my reservations, I decided to give this whole coconut craze a go....

I made overnight oats with chia and a mix of thinned coconut milk and apple syrup that I had made in Fall. Rounded with fresh fruits, I left it sit in the fridge. The Morning after, I was looking forward to the experience of something that would be entirely new for me... And, I was NOT disappointed

It was amazing!!! Definitely not strong on the coconut flavor. Perhaps, apple is a very good pairing for it or maybe it was the brand of coconut milk I used (a more authentic Thai brand from an Asian store). It was creamy, soft, pudding like and the fruits were decadent with it.

Topped with crunchy nuts, I fell head over heels with this parfait. So, much so, that I gave plans for another curry to preserve the milk for the remaining breakfasts that week!

Apple is a very good flavor pair for coconut!

Oat, Chia and Coconut Milk Fruit Parfaits from ashaFSK

Coconut Chia Pudding Parfaits

1 cup oats

2 tsp chia seeds

4 T thick coconut milk

1/2 cup apple syrup (recipe adapted from here)

2 T fruit jam (optional)

fruits as preference

nuts as preference

Mix the oats, chia seeds, coconut milk and apple syrup into a rich porridge consistency. If it looks too thick, thin with more syrup or even water based on sweetness.

In parfait glasses, divide the jam if using at the base. Top with half the oat mix in each glass. 

At this point, place in the refrigerator for a few hours to overnight. 

The next morning, top the parfait with fruits on hand and then nuts and any other sweet crunch you would like to add.