Passover I- Pass the Coconut

It is Passover again.  Time to clean out your kitchen, time to look within yourself and clean out your mind. Time to maybe clean out your fridge and get rid of the hametz.  I love this time of year.  As I mentioned before, I had an epiphany with the foods we were eating in our house.  Part of this realization came as I started looking ahead to Passover.  I love that Passover can be a time of the year that we really reflect what is ‘fogging up’ our life and trying to get rid of it, cleaning out the hametz.  My goal for our family and for me, a breastfeeding mom, is to eat more whole foods in their natural state.  That has become the focus of my articles this year.  And hopefully, buying more whole foods, and analyzing their nutritional value, will help you ‘go gluten free’ gradually, painlessly, enjoyably.  A few years ago, a friend introduced me to the amazing cooking qualities of coconut.  Coconuts are grown on coconut palms which are tropical plants and can usually be found in coastal beach areas near the equator. This includes Thailand, the Philippines, Hawaii, Brazil and New Guinea to name a few.  The coconut palm, also known as Cocos nucifera, takes seven years after it has been planted, to produce any fruit. The seeds grow from the center of the tree, close to where the leaves protrude from the trunk. The trees produce seeds all year long, so at any given time a tree can house coconuts at any stage of development. Coconut meat is what you eat and is what I used to make my yummy, homemade macaroons.  However, there are lots of other products derived from coconut.  Coconut oil is simply the oils that come from pressing out the meat.  Coconut oil is great for cooking or baking if you are looking for a tasty alternative to olive oil or canola oil.  In fact, you will find that I use coconut oil in my ‘other granola’ recipe and also when I make homemade carob chips.  Since I have been breastfeeding, I have learned that the baby does not like dairy or corn.  Coconut is an excellent alternative when I need extra fat and calories in my diet.  I have been able to enjoy coconut milk in my coffee, decaf of course, and coconut ice cream too!  Finally, coconut flour is an amazing flour to work with.  It is thick and sticky and makes an excellent substitute in your baked goods.  In fact, there are cook books written just on cooking with coconut flour.  Nutritionally, coconut flour cannot be beat.  One quarter cup of flour packs in 10 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, 21 grams of fiber and only 4 grams of sugar.    What was amazing to our family when I first introduced coconut products into my baked goods, was that we were all expecting them to taste like coconut, but they do not!  So you do not have to love coconut to cook with the oil, milk or flour.  But you do have to love coconut to eat these delicious macaroons!  They are the perfect treat during Passover.  Make them with carob chips, chocolate chips or even dried cherries for a more tart cookie.  The creamy, rich sweetened condensed milk make them incredibly sweet and satisfying and with only FOUR ingredients, you have no excuse NOT to make them!  Happy Passover!

Naturally Gluten Free Macaroons

Ingredients:

2 egg whites

14 oz bag shredded sweetened coconut

¾ cup sweetened condensed milk

2/3 cups carob chips

Directions:

Wisk egg whites in large bowl with salt until stiff peaks form.

Fold in coconut and milk.

Stir in chips.

Scoop in 2 inch balls onto parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes.

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