Coconut seems to be the "in" thing to cook with right now. So what is the difference between coconut milk and coconut cream? Are they interchangeable? I am trying to have a healthier diet, is it better for me?
Lets start with what each product:
This is the liquid juice found inside a young green coconut. It is a healthy alternative to sports drinks. But make sure you check the label. Many brands contain added sugar. We are not cooking with this only, only drinking.
Coconut milk is similar to cow's milk in its' consistency. The milk is created by mixing 1 part coconut pulp with one part water. It is a primary ingredient in most Thai curry dishes.
Make sure you shake the can well before opening. The cream tends to rise to the top and separate.
Coconut cream has a much thicker consistency and is made by mixing 4 parts shredded coconut with 1 part water. You can use coconut cream to make dairy free and vegan desserts. You can also add it to soups and curries if you desire a thicker texture, similar to using heavy cream vs. milk.
Health Benefits? Is cooking with coconut milk/cream healthier for me?
The simple answer is...it depends. Coconut milk has 48 grams of fat versus 7.9 grams of fat in milk, however, the fat in coconut milk is a "medium-chain" fat which is absorbed quickly by the body and may help reduce cholesterol. These medium-chain triglycerides are NOT stored in your fat cells and metabolize to provide energy quickly. (To see the study click HERE.)
Coconut milk can also be consumed by individuals with lactose allergies.
Milk has more vitamins than its coconut counterpart. And if weight is a concern, coconut milk does have considerably more calories, but if you are concerned about cholesterol, coconut milk is the better option. For kids who need protein, dairy milk (7.7 grams per cup) is the better option with almost twice the amount as coconut (4.6 grams per cup).