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Chef’s Corner Tips: Coconut Milk & Lemons

Hello from your 5 Seasons Diet Team! We hope June is proving to be delicious and productive as you move toward a healthier you. This week, we want to focus on coconut milk and lemons. New England is far from the tropics, but we can channel them through food!

5 Seasons Diet Tip on Coconut Milk

First is coconut milk. In stores, you’ll find two kinds: regular or full-fat coconut milk and light coconut milk. 5 Seasons Diet recipes always call for the full-fat coconut milk. While full-fat coconut milk is high in saturated fat, it has unique fatty acids that may help you lose weight, improve your immune function, reduce your risk for heart disease, and improve your skin and hair. It also has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.

Full-fat coconut milk separates in the can into a top layer of coconut cream and bottom layer of coconut milk. Sometimes, recipes will ask you to use one or the other, or both. If we ask you to use just the coconut cream and do not specifically use the milk in another recipe, don’t toss the milk! It is great in smoothies, and you can freeze it for future use.

When you are looking for a non-dairy alternative to whipped cream, you can use the top layer of coconut cream. Refrigerate the can for at least 8 hours, scoop just the top layer of cream into a chilled medium bowl, and beat it using an electric mixer, preferably with chilled beaters, on medium speed for 30 seconds, then add the natural sweetener of your choice and a splash of vanilla. Beat for another minute or so to incorporate, and you’re ready to top your dessert or other dish.

Lemon zest holds the highest concentration of essential oils and packs a flavor wallop.

Lemon zest holds the highest concentration of essential oils and packs a flavor wallop.

Second, lemons. Lemons, along with vinegars and some alcohols, are often used to add acidity to recipes. Often, if a dish seems to be missing that elusive something, it just needs more acidity to help brighten and tie together the flavors. Limes and other citrus juices can also be used.

Sometimes, recipes will call for the zest of citrus. The zest holds the highest concentration of essential oils in citrus, and packs a flavor wallop. A microplane grater is your best tool for this job, but if you don’t have one you can use the smallest holes of a box grater. If your knife skills are good, you can also use a paring knife to shave off the outer layer of skin—just the color, not the white pith—and then use your chef’s knife to finely mince or cut the zest into strips.

As always, as you cook your way through another week, we would love to hear how it is going! Please email us with any questions, comments, or concerns at