Menu #2

I’m back with another menu.  Menu #2 is Coconut Shrimp Curry, served with rice.

Menu #2
Menu #2

This dish is a nice mid-week recipe especially mid-winter – it’s warm and most of the ingredients are easy to pull from the pantry or freezer.

I usually stock up on the bags of pre-cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp when they come on sale as I find them really handy to have on hand.  I’ll thaw them overnight in the fridge (if I remember to pull them the day before), or just in a large bowl of cool water if (as usual) I am just trying to pull things together quickly.

The shrimp curry is just a variation of the recipe that I’ve posted before. I’ve found that it’s a very flexible recipe  – in this version, I’ve added some organic grated coconut to the coconut milk.

In a previous post I’ve talked about comparisons between different coconut milk, and I have to say that in a recipe like this, where some stronger spices are used, that the slight flavour differences between the brands that I’ve tried wouldn’t really matter.

3 types coconut milkOf course, the other differences (organic or not) play a factor as well.  I find that I reach for the Thai brand most often.

I love using coconut milk because it adds creaminess to dishes, without adding dairy.  It’s usually fairly well tolerated by those on a FODMAP free diet, and with my dairy intolerance it’s a godsend.

The rice, of course, could just as easily be switched out for pad thai noodles.  The noodles give it a different texture and are actually preferred by The Son, but we had the noodles with another dish the night before, so I switched it up.

I like this particular recipe, because I can add whatever veg is kicking around in my fridge or freezer.  Some diced peppers or tomatoes, or frozen chopped spinach all work well with the creamy sauce.

Menu # 2
Menu # 2

So, for the ratings, (with 1 star at the low end and 3 stars at the better end) I would say:

Ease of grocery shopping: * * *

Ease of preparation * * *

Family friendly * * (The Son ate the curry, but not the rice!)

I also like this recipe because it’s easily adjusted and is an excuse to eat seafood.  I find that without butter in my ingredient repertoire that traditional ways of eating shrimp and shellfish are out for me.

Happy Eating!  I hope you find Menu #2 easy to work into your menu rotation.

Coconut Milk (part 2!)

Well, I did eventually get around to opening up my 3 tins of coconut milk and giving them a taste test.   In my last post, I compared the cost and ingredients of three types of coconut milk purchased at my local Safeway – Thai, Tosca and Compliments brands.   I did consider (very briefly) cooking the same recipe with each tin, just to give a scientific comparison, but I just couldn’t do it.  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing!

So, as far as rigorous scientific testing, here’s what I did….

I had The Son open up all three cans and empty the contents into a clear glass.  We then discussed the consistency and colour of the three brands.  Opinion, I must say, was affected by the fact that The Son is a teenager and never seen coconut milk in a can before – he was initially grossed out by the solid coconut cream that had risen to the top of the can.  I tried to explain to him that that was ‘the good stuff’, but he would not be swayed.

coconut milk comparison

I liked the Thai brand (the most expensive of the three). It had the best colour (the Compliments brand was an unnerving greyish colour) and smell (most coconutty).  I would have liked to compare the amount of coconut cream that had risen to the top but The Son moves faster than I and scooped out the cans before I had a chance to check it out.

We then did a taste test.  The Son preferred the taste of the Thai brand, but actually, I found the Tosca brand to be the most full flavoured.  Using a mathematical analysis, we felt that the Thai brand came out on top, though…

I used all three cans of coconut milk, but I made three different recipes…

Coconut Fish

coconut fish

Thai Chicken

Thai Chicken

and Chocolate coconut cupcakes (yum)

chocolate coconute cupcakes

The Coconut Curry fish is a recipe that I’ve blogged about before, the Thai Chicken is an excellent recipe I’ve gotten from another blogger (I printed out the recipe without any identifying information, so now I have to hunt it down so I can give proper credit!), and the Chocolate coconut cupcakes is something I’ll blog about later…  mmmm, Chocolate!

All three recipes came out well, so I can’t really say that one brand of coconut milk is preferred over another in this regard.  I do know that I prefer the Thai and Tosca over the Compliments brand, even though they are more expensive.  I love the flavour of coconut milk, and it is a low FODMAP product.  According to the Monash Fodmap app, Coconut milk and coconut oil both get a green light.  Curiously, the coconut water (250 ml serving) gets a red light for being high in Polyols.

Jennifer Nelson for the Mother Nature Network gives a nice summary of the differences between coconut milk and water.  I wasn’t comparing calories or fat types, just the different brands.

Until next time…..

Coconut Milk

I’m always surprised at the amazing things a manufacturer can throw in a simple food product.  When I’m trying to compare oranges to oranges, it seems they are doing their best to throw in some apples.  This week I had coconut milk on my grocery list and thought I’d take the time to compare a few brands.

3 types coconut milkI picked up all three brands at my local Safeway.  The Tosca brand of coconut milk cost $2.99, the Compliments brand cost $1.79, and the Thai Kitchen brand was $3.49, so there was a considerable price difference between the three.

Not surprisingly, the Thai Kitchen brand, though it was the most expensive, was the purest product.  As you can see on the label, just three ingredients.

thai coconut milk ingredientsThe product at the next price level was the Tosca.  Besides good old water, it also contains some of my favorite scrabble words:  Potassium Meta bisulphate and polysorbate 60.

tosca coconut milk ingFinally, at the lowest price, the Complements brand contains carboxmethyl cellulose, along with the polysorbate 60.

compliments Coconut milk ingredientNow, I find that living on a low FODMAP diet is challenging enough – squinting at labels to see if they contain things like honey, onion or apple is quite enough effort thank you.  I don’t really want to become fluent with ingredient names like carboxymethyl or polysorbate.  A food product should be just that.

I will take the time to do a taste test on these three products, though. I’ll just make sure that the two products with ‘mystery ingredients’ will be used on an evening when I know that the following day I can wear my ‘bloat pants’.

I’m sure there are many other brands of coconut milk on the shelves, with many other additives that may or may not be pronounceable.  I’m also sure that the manufacturers will say that these additives are totally safe.  But living with IBS and a few food intolerances has taught me that a body is very sensitive to what we put into it and sometimes it’s difficult to determine what side effect is caused by what item we’ve put into our mouth.

It will probably be a while before manufacturers start to label products as ‘low FODMAP’, so in the meantime, I think I’ll stick to the products that are the purest.  Even though Thai kitchen is the most expensive, it’s probably what I’ll reach for first.