Homemade Coconut Milk and An Experiment in Joint Pain

I woke up this morning, like many mornings, with soreness in my shoulders and back.  Some days the pain flares up to where it feels like fire in my shoulder joint. I have severe grinding in both of my shoulders when I roll them.  I have always attributed the pain to the constant motion of my shoulders at work.  It started years ago in the kitchen when I did a lot of prep work (cutting and stirring motions all day) and have had it so bad at times I can’t lift my arms even to the straight out position.  I figured I had some type of rotator cuff or tendinitis that came and went with my activity level.  I’m too stubborn to go to the doctor for these types of things and just kind of thought it’d always be there because of my work atmosphere and I’d just have to deal.  I haven’t had any of the excruciating rotator cuff pain lately, but I have a burning inside my shoulder that comes and goes.  I also have been waking up with soreness in other joints, my hips especially.  When I woke up this morning and felt like my body had been run over by a truck, I decided it was time to experiment.  I looked back on the last few days and realized I had been eating a large amount of nuts. Two mornings worth of almond flour muffins, pecans as a snack, walnuts on my salad, and a box of some gluten free nut crackers.  I already knew nuts, nightshades, and egg whites were problematic for people with autoimmune conditions, but never thought they would be for me. After doing some research on chronic inflammatory disease, I seem to have a lot of those symptoms.  I’m not self-diagnosing but feel like it’s worth checking into.  So for the next couple weeks I’m going to avoid nuts and nightshades (which SUCKS because I love spicy stuff, chili powder, and paprika). Hopefully it’ll just be the nuts that are causing the issue.  

One item I’m determined to get more of into my diet is coconut.  For a while I consumed more coconut milk than I have been lately, but every carton or can in the stores contains additives to emulsify it. Coconut milk in the carton is made from rehydrating dried coconut.  Coconut milk in a can is thicker and made from pressing fresh coconut meat.  Coconut milk in a can is delicious and an awesome replacement for dairy and can even be whipped into cream, but often times is in a BPA lined can and contains guar gum or other additives.  Native Forest is a brand with a BPA-free lining and does contain guar gum (can be problematic for people with intestinal issues) but otherwise no other ingredients.  In this post, I’m going to teach you how to make the carton kind, adding as much or little water as you want for desired thickness.  It’s super easy and cheap.

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You’ll need:

1 cup dried, unsweetened coconut flakes (I get the organic package from the health food store, about $3-4)

3-4 cups hot, filtered water

A blender (I used my Blendtec)

Cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer

How to do it:

Soak dried coconut in hot water for about 10 minutes. Add to your blender and blend for about 2 minutes.  Strain into a mason jar from the cheesecloth leaving a little liquid in the blender.  Take your strained coconut flesh and add back to remaining liquid and blend again.  Strain once more and squeeze remaining liquid.  Let it cool without a lid on and then stick in your fridge. It won’t stay as long as the store bought kind since it’s free of all the other crap so use it within a few days. Once it cools, some of the fat might rise to the top and harden. You can either stir it back in or use it as a creamer in coffee.  

 

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