Is anyone else dying for summer to get here already? Like most people dwelling in the Midwest, I’ve got a serious case of cabin fever.
Within the past week, the weather has slowly warmed and gardens have begun to bloom, which has only made me yearn for sun, sand, and pina coladas even more. I can’t force bikini season to get here any faster, nor can I afford to go to the Bahamas, so I’ll have to settle for recreating summer in the kitchen with my favorite tropical ingredient.
Almost everyone has a food that reminds them of past beach vacations and for me it's coconut. I can practically smell the salt water and tanning lotion when I dig into a double coconut cupcake or a mango-coconut salad.
I spent a full day in the RC Test Kitchen cooking up my ultimate summer-inspired sweets using 2 ingredients: coconut milk and shredded coconut.
Ingredient #1: Coconut Milk
Coconut milk, a blend of coconut meat and water, is nature's perfect solution for dairy-free dieters. It's a rich and creamy liquid that carries the scent of coconut and has a slightly sweet and tangy taste.
Best of all, coconut milk is a powerhouse of nutrition. Not only is it rich in healthy fats, antioxidants, vital minerals, and vitamins C and E, coconut milk also contains lauric acid, a germ-fighting fatty acid that is found in human breast milk.
I love to use it to make extra moist cupcakes and creamy vegan popsicles.
By boiling coconut milk for about 30 minutes, I created a rich and slightly thickened coconut reduction which made the final product very fluffy. An added shot of shredded coconut upped the flavor factor and then I took things to NEXT LEVEL status with a luscious lemon-infused cream cheese frosting.
These tempting bad boys may not help you achieve bikini-ready thighs, but they are the ultimate comfort food if you’re trying to forget about that certain someone who didn’t call you back after your date last week. Its like every bite is saying, "Sugar, please! You and your killer baking skills are way too good for that loser anyways."
But if you are looking to keep that tummy tight, you may want to forgo the cupcakes and opt for something a bit more waistline friendly. How about some healthy 4-ingredient dairy-free creamsicles?
This is seriously the easiest dessert recipe you will ever make. Just combine all the ingredients in the blender and liquefy. Pour them into chic shot glasses with mini popsicle sticks, and after a 6-hour chill, you have a tart and tangy treat with a pretty pink hue – and it’s all natural and free of white sugar.
Ingredient #2: Shredded Coconut
Dried shredded coconut is naturally sweet and adds a rich coconut flavor to both sweet and savory dishes. It is also rich in fiber, iron, and zinc.
While sweetened shredded coconut tastes fantastic, I prefer to use unsweetened coconut to cut back on the overall sugar content. It's my go-to ingredient when I want to add an interesting texture and tropical flair to homemade candy and fruit salads.
Super serious about weight loss? This is the dessert for you. It’s full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. And no refined sugar in sight. An added bonus: it only takes 10 minutes to make this lightly sweetened dish.
The tender mango plays perfectly with crunchy pistachios and fragrant coconut. When I was on the Clean Eating Diet, I used this recipe to satisfy my raging sweet tooth any time I was tempted to cheat.
If you’re a chocoholic, you’ve just got to try this so-simple candy. The prep is a snap and its fool proof. As long as you can roll 1-inch balls and melt chocolate, you’ve got this thing on lock. Most useful tip of the day: these indulgent melt-in-your-mouth truffles make the best homemade gifts for Mother’s Day!
I was inspired to make these little beauties after watching RC's very own Morgan McDonald make them during a cooking video shoot. They look so elegant, yet you could make this when your pantry is nearly bare because it only requires 5 super common ingredients: eggs, coconut flakes, sugar, vanilla, and salt.
Watch Morgan work her magic by clicking the video below.
Written by: Amanda Patton
Photos by: Amanda Patton
Recipe of the Day: Creamy Coconut Margarita
To learn how to make a Creamy Coconut Margarita, click here.