“Coconut: The Complete Guide to the World’s Most Versatile Superfood” by Stephanie Pedersen is all about incorporating coconut into your daily diet in a variety of ways. (In the introduction, Pedersen notes that beyond eating it, she has used the oil in her hair and snuck it into food for her dog to relieve his itchy skin.)

Coconut is having its moment, and while some disagreement exists among experts about its healthfulness in various forms, Pedersen is a believer. She begins with a 50-page section that explains the history of coconut and the nutritional profile of both green and mature coconuts, coconut water, coconut oil and coconut milk. She also details more obscure ingredients like coconut flour, coconut vinegar and coconut sugar. Notes throughout the book explain why she believes her recipes offer healthier coconut-based alternatives to recipes typically made with other ingredients, say an otherwise basic tomato soup made with coconut milk or a basic beef stew jazzed up with coconut milk.

The little – but packed – paperback contains recipes span cultures from around the world that the author has made her own with interesting twists. It’s not a glossy, high-production cookbook – there are just a handful of color photographs in the center. On the other hand, that makes it easier to take into the kitchen and drop a smudge of batter or a dribble of oil on it without feeling bad.

The recipes range from smoothies (e.g., Choco-Coco Macadamia Shake) to appetizers (Avocado-Coconut Dip) to dinner (Coconut Chicken Chili) to candy (White Fudge made with coconut butter, cocoa butter and cashews). As a group, the recipes are simple, mostly short and easy to follow.

The Almond-Coconut Pound Cake was simple enough for a beginner baker to do, but the ingredients – almond and coconut flours as well as coconut sugar – required a special visit to a natural foods store (and the ingredients, particularly the almond flour, weren’t cheap).

The pound cake took longer in the oven than the recipe indicated. Once the cake had baked and cooled, it was pleasingly dense, super moist, nicely flavorful and so rich it was best eaten in small portions. With its dark brown color, though, it didn’t look as good as it tasted. A bonus: for people like me who like to sample the batter before cooking, this one had amazing raw batter!

— GAETANA ALMEIDA

Almond-Coconut Pound Cake

This cake offers coconut four different ways, in the form of flour, oil, sugar and milk. Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut palm, while coconut flour is ground from the meat of dry-pressed coconuts. Coconut oil is solid when it’s cold and liquid when warmed up.

Makes 8 servings

3 cups almond flour

¼ cup coconut flour

¾ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup liquid coconut oil

2/3 cup coconut sugar

4 large eggs

½ cup canned coconut milk

½ teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan with a light coating of coconut oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the liquid coconut oil, coconut sugar, eggs, coconut milk and the extracts on a medium speed.

Add the dry ingredients to the liquid mixture 1 cup at a time, blending between additions. Blend just until smooth.

Scrape batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool for 15 minutes before slicing.


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