Coconuts are the fruit of the coconut palm, native to Malaysia, Polynesia and Southern Asia, and are now also found in South America, India, the Pacific Islands, Hawaii and Florida. If you’ve ever opened a fresh coconut, you will have seen the thin, translucent water it contains. The flavor is deliciously sweet and refreshing and I’m completely and utterly addicted. I drink it year-round (ATL, fresh coconut water is now bottled and available at the Dekalb Farmers Market).
This coconut “water” is often referred to as “Nature’s blood transfusion” as it is identical to human blood plasma. In fact, “coconut IVs” have saved many lives in (so-called) 3rd world countries. Additonally, coconut water has many health benefits. It is lower in calories than orange juice, raises your metabolism, and has amazing anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-microbial properties. It’s also naturally filtered and higher in potassium than sports and energy drinks.
Now, if you know me, you know that I am not one to indulge in a favorite food or drink without adding my own twist to it. I often use coconut water instead of h2o for ice cubes to keep the flavors in my juices and smoothies from being watered down. On a recent trip to Miami I was inspired to create the following tasty beverage as an alternative for my non-alcohol drinking friends (but I’m sure everyone will enjoy this):
COCONUT “FAUX-JITO”© (from the forthcoming cookbook CULTURE CLASH: globally-inspired recipes by EARTHCANDY GOURMET VEGAN CUISINE)
3 lime wedges 2 teaspoons agave nectar
10 fresh mint leaves coconut water
sparkling mineral water
In a 16 oz.glass, muddle the mint leaves carefully (to release the oil but not break the leaves) together with the lime wedges. Fill the glass to the top with ice, then fill the glass about 3/4 full with coconut water. Next, add the agave nectar. Stir the ingredients -with a sugarcane swizzle if you’re “extra” like me- to equally distribute the flavor. Finally top with mineral water and a 1″ piece of crystallized ginger (an EARTHCANDY touch) for garnish.