Monday, December 26, 2011

Earth Balance - Coconut Spread

Earth Balance is one of those products that changed the [vegan] world back in 1998. Today, I couldn't imagine life without it. Chefs all over the world use it as their go-to product when making anything that might have typically contained butter. Their spreads are creamy, delicious, and buttery.  I think it is the best vegan spread out there.

GFA Brands recently came out with a new spread that uses coconut oil as its base. They call it "Coconut Spread." Products containing coconut oil seem to be the latest craze as they are showing up on every shelf.  Because coconut oil is a saturated fat, it was first thought that it was not good for you. Now, we know that just the opposite is true. Nearly 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is of a type rarely found in nature called lauric acid, a remarkable compound that has unique health-promoting properties. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties. Some studies show that coconut oil can help optimize body weight, which reduces your risk of developing diabetes.

I haven't jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon just yet though. I use coconut oil for cooking only when I want the dish to have a coconut taste. Earth Balance says that you can control the coconut taste in the Coconut Spread using heat -- to keep the coconut taste, use it on low heat; to make it disappear, use it on high heat. They sent me a sample along with a cookbook called "Cooking with Coconut" and I decided to make the Toasty Coconutty Chickpeas and Curried Kale.

Toasty Coconutty Chickpeas and Curried Kale
Serves 4

  • 4 T Earth Balance Coconut Spread, divided
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, patted dry
  • 3 T finely shredded coconut
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 T finely minced ginger
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 large bunch kale, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 1 T raw cane sugar or light agave nectar
  • Salt to taste
Start by preheating the oven to 350-degrees. The instructions state to line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I think this is an important step, but, unfortunately, I didn't have any so I just used a non-stick baking pan. It didn't work as well so I would recommend using parchment paper if you have some. Next, melt 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance Coconut Spread in a saucepan.

Pour the melted Coconut Spread in a bowl with the chickpeas and coconut. Toss to coat evenly.

Spread the chickpeas evenly on the baking sheet and toast 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once.

Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat the remaining Coconut Spread in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onion, ginger, and garlic, and cook 2-3 minutes. Add kale and cook 6-8 minutes, until soft.

Add coconut milk, curry powder, sugar, and salt to taste. Cover and simmer 4-5 minutes.

Serve curried kale over brown rice and top with coconutty chickpeas.

I thought the dish was pretty good. The spread worked well because I was looking for a coconut taste and I used it with coconut milk and coconut covered chickpeas. My favorite part of this dish was the toasted chickpeas. They turned out great and I could see myself using these for a number of other dishes.

Overall, I think this spread is great for dishes where you want a coconut taste, but I wouldn't use it as a spread on a hot dinner roll. I have tried this and really don't prefer the coconut taste. I do, however, think this spread would be great for baked goods like coconut macaroons and coconut cream pie. Try it for yourself and see what you think. It is a great alternative to some of the other unnatural products on the market.

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