Here is a simple and delicious dessert containing no refined sugar, no dairy (not that I think dairy is unhealthy when consumed in moderation but some people may choose to avoid it) and no baking required. The Coconut sorbet is made with just two ingredients; coconut water and reduced fat coconut cream. The Raw raspberry and coconut cookie dough pairs perfectly with the sorbet to make a lovely, refreshing treat.
The sorbet is fairly low in calories and carbs thanks to the coconut water. I habitually drink coconut water. It’s so good after a hard training session or when I am stuck at my desk reading scientific paper after paper. I will give myself a break by going for a walk and getting a refreshing coconut water. My favourite way to consume coconut water is to buy a young coconut and hack a chunk out of the top so that I can sip on the delicious coconut water inside. I then proceed to scoop out the flesh. So what makes coconut water so unique? It appealed to me because coconut water is fairly low in sugars, while being rich in electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. But as I did a little bit of research into coconut water, I discovered that it contains a myriad of other interesting compounds and has been known to the scientific community since the 1940’s. It started being used as a component in media used to culture plant tissues in 1941 because it appeared to have growth regulatory properties (1). This finding was published in one of the top scientific journals, Science. It was later found that coconut water contains 4 out of the 5 main phytohormones, which are a group of naturally occurring organic compounds that play crucial roles in regulating plant growth in a wide range of developmental processes. The phytohormones identified in coconut water are auxin, various cytokinins, gibberellins (GAs) and abscisic acid (ABA). Interestingly, cytokinins alone cannot replace coconut water’s effects on plant growth, suggesting that all the components in coconut water have a synergistic effect, meaning that they all work together (2-5). This is why I am such a strong advocate of eating whole foods because I believe that the synergistic effects of the components in foods can have positive health benefits.
What is also interesting is that one of the cytokinins found in coconut water, kinetin, has been reported to have strong anti-ageing effects on human skin cells and fruitflies (6-8). The anti-ageing effects of kinetin did not increase the maximum proliferative capacity of the cell culture lifespan unlike many other anti-ageing factors, which can promote carcinogenesis under certain conditions (6).
In addition to being a rich source of electrolytes, coconut water also contains a number of vitamins, including the B vitamins and vitamin C (9). One of the important vitamins that it contains is vitamin B9, also known as folate or folic acid. Deficiencies in folate during pregnancy are associated with severe birth defects, such as neural-tube defects (10) and congenital heart defects (11). These defects may also be due to genetic abnormalities, but folate deficiencies can contribute. However, I found conflicting data on the amount of folate present in coconut water, with one source reporting 1000 times more than another (9, 12), so I cannot say whether drinking 500mls of coconut water would provide you with the recommended amount of folate during pregnancy (0.66 – 0.7mg/day) (13, 14).
Sorry to get all sciency on you but I tend to get side tracked by the research when I start looking into a topic. The take home message is that, compared to sports drinks and soft drinks, coconut water is lower in sugars, and is rich in electrolytes, so it is a healthier alternative if available. Plus it makes an awesome sorbet!
Makes 2 large serves
500mls of coconut water
200mls of reduced fat coconut cream or coconut milk
Raw raspberry and coconut cookie dough
1 tablespoon coconut butter or oil
½ cup walnuts
½ cup frozen raspberries, thawed
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon stevia
Small containers or ice cube trays
Measuring cups and spoons
Food processor or high-speed blender (I used my high-speed blender for this sorbet as the volume was quite large)
- Freeze the coconut water and coconut cream/milk in small containers or ice cube trays for at least 4 hours.
- Remove the frozen coconut water and cream/milk from the containers by running the bottom of the containers under hot water. Chop the frozen coconut water and cream/milk into chunks using a sharp knife and gradually add the chunks to a food processor or high-blender and process or blend until a smooth, even texture is achieved. If using a blender, you will need to stir the contents during the blending process.
- Alternatively I discovered that if you freeze the coconut water/cream/milk for only 1 – 2 hours the middle remains unfrozen and processes or blends more easily than when completely frozen.
- Once the sorbet has reached a smooth, even consistency, divide it into two bowls and place it into the freezer for a further 30 minutes.
- To make the Raw raspberry and coconut cookie dough, add all the ingredients to a food processor and process until the mixture starts to form a firm ball. Roll the cookie dough into balls with wet hands. Chop the balls into chunks and serve on top of the coconut sorbet.
- J VANO, Conklin ME, & Blakeslee AF (1941) Factors in Coconut Milk Essential for Growth and Development of Very Young Datura Embryos. Science 94(2441):350-351.
- Kobayashi H, et al. (1997) Structural identification of a major cytokinin in coconut milk as 14-O-(3-O-[beta-D-galactopyranosyl-(1–>2)-alpha-D-galactopyranosyl- (1–>3)-alpha-L-arabinofuranosyl]-4-O-(alpha-L-arabinofuranosyl)- beta-d-galactopyranosyl)-trans-zeatin riboside. Chemical & pharmaceutical bulletin 45(2):260-264.
- Ge L, Yong JW, Tan SN, Yang XH, & Ong ES (2006) Analysis of cytokinin nucleotides in coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) water using capillary zone electrophoresis-tandem mass spectrometry after solid-phase extraction. Journal of chromatography. A 1133(1-2):322-331.
- Ge L, Yong JW, Tan SN, & Ong ES (2006) Determination of cytokinins in coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) water using capillary zone electrophoresis-tandem mass spectrometry. Electrophoresis 27(11):2171-2181.
- Wu Y & Hu B (2009) Simultaneous determination of several phytohormones in natural coconut juice by hollow fiber-based liquid-liquid-liquid microextraction-high performance liquid chromatography. Journal of chromatography. A 1216(45):7657-7663.
- Rattan SI & Clark BF (1994) Kinetin delays the onset of ageing characteristics in human fibroblasts. Biochemical and biophysical research communications 201(2):665-672.
- Sharma SP, Kaur P, & Rattan SI (1995) Plant growth hormone kinetin delays ageing, prolongs the lifespan and slows down development of the fruitfly Zaprionus paravittiger. Biochemical and biophysical research communications 216(3):1067-1071.
- Lee JH, Chung KY, Bang D, & Lee KH (2006) Searching for aging-related proteins in human dermal microvascular endothelial cells treated with anti-aging agents. Proteomics 6(4):1351-1361.
- Yong JW, Ge L, Ng YF, & Tan SN (2009) The chemical composition and biological properties of coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) water. Molecules 14(12):5144-5164.
- Anonymous (1991) Prevention of neural tube defects: results of the Medical Research Council Vitamin Study. MRC Vitamin Study Research Group. Lancet 338(8760):131-137.
- Czeizel AE, Dobo M, & Vargha P (2004) Hungarian cohort-controlled trial of periconceptional multivitamin supplementation shows a reduction in certain congenital abnormalities. Birth defects research. Part A, Clinical and molecular teratology 70(11):853-861.
- DebMandal M & Mandal S (2011) Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): in health promotion and disease prevention. Asian Pacific journal of tropical medicine 4(3):241-247.
- McPartlin J, Halligan A, Scott JM, Darling M, & Weir DG (1993) Accelerated folate breakdown in pregnancy. Lancet 341(8838):148-149.
- Daly LE, Kirke PN, Molloy A, Weir DG, & Scott JM (1995) Folate levels and neural tube defects. Implications for prevention. Jama 274(21):1698-1702.