By now many of us are familiar with non-dairy milk like almond milk, but did you know you can get milk from coconuts too? Coconuts are very high in fat, so coconut milk is a great ingredient to use in keto baking. Using coconut milk in desserts will give you a big fat boost and make it easy to keep your baked goods keto. Here we’ll talk about the beneficial fats you get from coconut milk and how to make delicious keto desserts with it!
Keto diet basics
The keto diet is a way of eating that requires you to keep your daily fat intake at about 70-80% of your total calories, and limit your carbohydrate and protein intake. This makes fats the most available energy source for the body and makes carbohydrates less accessible, which is referred to as being in “ketosis.” Research shows the ketogenic diet can improve the health of people with epilepsy, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, and has many positive health effects overall on anyone.
Net carbs: The carbs that count
While limiting our carbohydrate intake on the ketogenic diet, the most important thing to focus on is net carbs. These are the carbs that come from fiber (and sugar alcohols if you consume them) and do not affect your blood sugar. When investigating keto baking ingredients like coconut milk, we always talk about net carbs because they are what we have to limit as we develop sweet recipes!
Coconut milk macros
Let’s start with the macros right away, and you’ll see why coconut milk is so great for keto. On average, 100 g of coconut milk has only 2.81 g carbohydrates. Most of the energy in calories of coconut milk comes from fat. Keto dieters celebrate! In 100g, there are 73 grams of fat, most of which is saturated fat.
Is saturated fat bad?
You might hear concern out there about the high amount of saturated fat in coconut milk. Saturated fat has been shamed in the past. But recent research shows that coconut milk has many beneficial health effects and can even improve blood lipid and cholesterol levels. Without getting too scientific on you, the chemical composition of coconut milk is mostly medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). Researchers show the MCT's to have beneficial effects on body weight, insulin levels, metabolism, and body fat, despite coconut milk being mostly saturated fat. Another notable health fact about coconut milk is that it is high in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help prevent damage in the body.
How to milk a coconut
So almond milk and cashew milk aren’t too hard to understand, but how the heck do we get “milk” from the big brown husky coconuts growing on palm trees? Well, coconut milk is not as crazy as it might seem, and you can make it at home fairly easily! It’s more work than your standard nut milk, but I make coconut milk myself, and it is fun, rewarding, and cost-efficient!
Coconut milk is made with the inner white flesh of the coconut, called the “meat,” along with the liquid coconut water inside. In the industrial production process, the coconut meat is grated then pressed to extract the coconut milk.
If you want to make it from scratch, you have a few options. The more comfortable is to buy unsweetened shredded coconut blend it with water, then strain it through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth.
The more complicated method requires a hammer … So if you’re feeling like getting some energy out, this way is for you! In reality, you don’t have to hit the coconut very hard. Just give it a few taps until you see a crack big enough to pry the coconut open with a spoon. Make sure you do this over a bowl or dish to capture the water inside! Your next step is to pry out the coconut meat from the shell with a knife. Then blend the meat, coconut water, and some additional water, then strain through a cheesecloth as in the first method.
In both cases, the amount of water you add will affect the thickness and fattiness of your resulting coconut milk.
Canned coconut milk
But let’s face it, both of the methods described above require more work than opening a can, and sometimes that’s the most accessible source of coconut milk when baking or cooking and lots of other things are going on in the kitchen! So yes, it does come canned.
When you go to buy canned coconut milk, you’ll see both “light” and “full fat” options. For us on keto, full fat is definitely what we want! Like we mentioned though, some brands have a lot of additives and preservatives. There are also sweetened versions that have sugar added. So look carefully at labels to know what you’re buying! These days as non-dairy milk becomes more popular, there are also several coconut milk “beverages” sold in stores. These are further thinned with water and usually sweetened and flavored. The purest form of coconut milk and the one you’ll get the most fat from is the canned, full-fat, unsweetened version with just coconut and water.
Coconut milk separation is normal!
When you buy a can of coconut milk and let it sit for a while, the fattier components will often separate to the top of the can, leaving thin coconut water on the bottom of the can and thick cream on top. Don’t worry, all you have to do is gently warm the milk or shake the can really hard, and it will homogenize again! We talk about coconut cream here!
Baking with coconut milk
A form of fat is essential for any baking recipe, and of course, fat is our best friend on keto! That means coconut milk is perfect for keto baking and desserts. Many recipes on My Sweet Keto feature coconut milk, like this No-bake keto chocolate hedgehogs, Keto Lamingtons, pumpkin flan, chocolate pudding, panna cotta, mug cake, keto baklava, and the list goes on and on!
Coconut milk is especially useful as non-dairy milk or cream replacement in recipes. Its high-fat content makes it more similar to cream than milk, so take that into account if you want to substitute it in an existing recipe of yours.
One fantastic way to use coconut milk is to make dairy-free keto ice cream! Coconut milk also freezes well, so you could even freeze it in ice cube trays and make a keto coconut milk smoothie or frozen drink. All of the fat in coconut milk makes it a good thickener, so it works really well to make no-bake pies and cheesecakes too!
Can I eat dairy milk products on keto?
This can be a confusing question because there is no yes or no answer! The answer is that it depends on the dairy product. The distinguishing factor of the keto diet is having a fat intake of around 70% of your calories and keeping net carbohydrates low.
Many dairy products have a high amount of naturally occurring sugar in the form of lactose. Dairy can be high in fat, but some products have even more sugar than fat, making them poor choices for keto! Milk, for example, has about 12g sugar per cup and only around 8g fat—not a good keto food.
Some types of cheese and high-fat-low-sugar products like cream can be acceptable options on keto. The way to determine this is just comparing the amount of fat and net carbs in it and seeing if it fits into your macros.
Coconut milk for many uses!
Whether you’re using coconut milk to replace dairy milk as a drink or in baked goods or making some other delicious keto dessert with it, it’s a great way to get a lot of fat! The MCTs in coconut milk are great for your health and great for making a lot of keto desserts!