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The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

Here’s what we’ve been making with one of our favourite storecupboard staples

TINNED COCONUT MILK helps to add a range of minerals to dishes, including phosphorus, magnesium, iron, potassium, manganese and copper. It’s high in calories and fat (most of it saturated), however, so it’s important to use the reduced-fat version, which has around a third less fat, and use it sparingly.
 

1. Thai moules

Simmer mussels in reduced-fat coconut milk with chopped green chilli, chopped lemongrass and a pinch of ground turmeric until the shells open (discard any that remain closed). Stir through plenty of chopped fresh coriander to serve.
 

2. Red lentil and coconut soup

Cook red lentils in a mixture of reduced-salt stock and reduced-fat coconut milk with chopped onion and carrots, crushed garlic, grated fresh ginger, fresh flatleaf parsley and a sprinkle of ras-el-hanout (Moroccan spice blend). Blend until smooth, then grind over black pepper and garnish with extra parsley to serve.
 

3. Dairy-free mash

Replace milk and butter with reduced-fat coconut milk when mashing carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes and turnips for a creamy texture and slightly exotic flavour.
 

4. Mango, coconut and blueberry smoothie

Blend the flesh of 1 ripe mango with a handful of blueberries, a drizzle of runny honey, a little grated orange zest and some reduced-fat coconut milk.
 

5. Quick fish laksa

Simmer laksa curry paste with reduced-fat coconut milk and a little fish stock. Add chunks of salmon fillet and simmer for 5–8 min until cooked. Add beansprouts and fresh mint leaves and simmer until heated through. Serve over cooked rice noodles with a squeeze of lime.
 

6. Mushrooms on toast

Fry sliced mushrooms with chopped spring onions and crushed garlic in a little rapeseed oil until tender. Add enough reduced-fat coconut milk to make a sauce and simmer for a few min to heat. Pile on to wholemeal toast and sprinkle with paprika.
 

7. Coconut and plum pannacotta

To serve 4: soak 2 leaf gelatine sheets in cold water to soften, then squeeze out the excess water. Bring a 400ml tin reduced-fat coconut milk just to boiling point, then remove from the heat and add the gelatine, stirring until dissolved. Stir in a little runny honey or maple syrup to sweeten, then pour into 4 small bowls or moulds and chill until set. Halve a few plums, sprinkle with brown sugar, then roast until caramelised. Serve some with each pannacotta.
 

8. Pineapple mocktail

Blend equal amounts of pineapple juice and reduced-fat coconut milk, then pour into a glass over ice and top up with ginger ale. Decorate with a wedge of fresh pineapple.
 

9. Jamaican rice and peas

To serve 4: put 200g basmati rice in a saucepan with a 400ml tin reduced-fat coconut milk. Fill the empty tin three-quarters full with water and add to the pan with a few fresh thyme sprigs (or 1tsp dried), 2 crushed garlic cloves and 1 bunch chopped spring onions. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 10 min. Drain and rinse a 400g tin kidney beans, stir into the mixture, then cover and leave for 5 min or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
 

10. Chocolate rice pudding pots

To serve 4: simmer 75g pudding rice in a saucepan with a 400ml tin reduced-fat coconut milk and 400ml water, stirring now and then, until the rice is tender. Remove from the heat, then stir in 30g cocoa and 2tsp vanilla extract. Sweeten with a little runny honey or agave syrup, if you like.