Our Search For a Tummy-Friendly Milk
So, as you may or may not know, we found out when our oldest child was just a baby that he couldn’t tolerate dairy milk, even if I was nursing him and I ate or drank any dairy. Then children #2, 3, and 4 came along, and the exact same issue played out each time. Fussiness, gas, colic, eczema would ensue each and every time I ate any dairy – even supposed nondairy items like conventional coffee creamer.
We subsisted on boxed rice milk for a few years, which I am sorry to say, was not a healthy option and was more like the equivalent of sugar water. If you know anything about allergies and autoimmune disorders, you understand that these problems arise from a gut that is out of balance. (Surprisingly, my children all started that way from the get-go.) So, in effect, adding sugar water to their (and my) diet was one of the worst things I could be doing for our situation.
Along came the boxed version of a coconut milk beverage, found in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores. What a blessing this was to our family!
We immediately began consuming copious amounts of this presumed healthy beverage. Cereal, oatmeal, wheat farina, as a base for soups and to make mashed potatoes, you get the idea. As our family and children grew, so did our consumption.
Until one day, recently. I started coming across this food additive called carrageenan. Supposedly, it came from seaweed and was touted as a healthy addition to coconut milk, used as an emulsifier and thickener. Then the bad news came.
It had been linked with inflammation . . . intestinal lesions . . . ulcerations . . . even a word no mother wants to hear: malignant, cancerous tumors. (source)
Sigh. And this stuff is in our organic coconut milk beverage? What’s a mom to do?
Why do I even trust food manufacturers anymore?
I bet you can guess why I’m starting to make more and more of our own food at home.
My goal in this case was to replace half of the milk we were consuming from the store with my homemade version. I have to be honest – like most of you, I am busy pretty much every hour I am awake. I have to squeeze new activities in gradually so I won’t get overwhelmed, and so I’ll stick with them. Eventually, my goal would be to make all of our own coconut milk.
Do I freak out if I can’t make some and have to buy it from the store? No way. Because I know that any change is a good change. We are drinking significantly less of the commercial stuff than we were before, and that for me is cause for celebration and encouragement. We strive to eat healthy 80% of the time, and the rest goes into our 20% allowance.
You kind of have to do this to keep sane. If you can’t keep sane, food has become your god and is ruling you – and uh, it’s a terrible, unrelenting despot. Don’t let food be your god. (freebie) 🙂
Anywho, I immediately set out to find a way to make our own coconut milk. I tried using canned coconut milk, but I wanted to get away from the canned aspect. Finally, I found a way to use shredded coconut and my beloved high-speed blender to make us a version of coconut milk we all love. It’s simple, of course, or I wouldn’t do it. It’s inexpensive, and by golly, it’s healthy too.
I’ll show you how we roll with our coconut milk today. Let’s get started!
Homemade Coconut Milk
- 2 cups shredded coconut, full-fat, not light (where to find shredded coconut)
- 8 cups filtered water, divided (where to find water filters)
- High-speed blender (where to find high-speed blenders) – or conventional will work as well
- Large mesh strainer (where to find strainers)
- Nut milk strainer bag (where to find strainer bags)
- Large mixing bowl (where to find mixing bowls)
- Half-gallon Pitcher (where to find pitchers)
First, you’ll need to place the coconut in your blender. Add 4 cups filtered water.
Leave this setup for a few hours to let the coconut soften. I usually start this soaking during breakfast and come back after our morning school session to continue. Don’t leave it overnight though – I’ve done this, and it doesn’t get as milky as it would otherwise.
Now that these shreds have softened for a few hours, all you have to do is blend. In my high-speed blender, I blend on high (remember to start slowly and work your way to the highest setting) for about one minute. Conventional blenders will need to blend for about three minutes.
Now set up your large mixing bowl, your strainer, and your straining bag like I have here.
Pour the blended coconut and water into the bag, into the strainer like so. It will take a few seconds to stop draining.
Now you have to pick up the slack! With clean hands, squeeze that bag of coconut shreds until you can’t get much more out. (Don’t squeeze too roughly or you might tear the bag.)
Now, empty the coconut back into the blender.
Add 4 more cups of water, and repeat the same blending, straining, and squeezing process all over again.
Pour into a half-gallon pitcher and keep refrigerated. Use within a week for optimum freshness.
You will notice that after several hours in the fridge, the coconut and water will separate a little. No worries! Simply shake to redistribute.
Also, the coconut cream will rise to the top, and since it’s refrigerated, will form a hard thin layer. I simply remove it (gently) with a spoon and keep in in a bag in the freezer to add to smoothies. Or, you can just shake it more thoroughly before you pour, but don’t be surprised when the chunks pour out of your pitcher. 😉 They’re yummy, so that’s a plus.
If you like doctoring things up like I do, you can add any of the following:
- I like adding about 20 drops of trace minerals (where to buy trace minerals) to our milk to help with our mineral intake. Everyone loves healthy bones and teeth! 😀
- You could also add a pinch of sea salt to add a depth of flavor and minerals. (where to buy sea salt)
- Some might like a sweeter milk, and in that case, you can add a few tablespoons of maple syrup (where to find maple syrup) or the equivalent of stevia (where to find stevia). I like to keep ours unsweetened, so we can use it in mashed potatoes and biscuits and other savory dishes. But do your thing. 🙂
- You can also add a teaspoon of vanilla (where to find vanilla) for a nice ice cream-y flavor. (Learn how to make your own vanilla extract)
- Now that you’ve made your homemade coconut milk, now you can go and make this amazing turmeric milk from Real Food RN. Yes, yes you can. Also related, if you don’t have time to make the milk but are looking to make a quick, simple coconut coffee creamer, try this dairy-free coffee creamer from Living Consciously.
Blenders make things so simple. Enjoy your healthy, fresh, frugal, homemade coconut milk.
Peace, love, and of course, coconut milk,
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