Choosing the Right Coconut Milk (for weaning babies)

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coconutbabies

My son, Frankie, is almost 15 months old. We weaned him from breast milk about a month ago because my donated freezer stash ran out, so I figured this would be a good time to wean him onto something else. He was on donated milk for almost a year! Incredible, eh? Well, I think so. It was a miracle, actually, and an answer to my deep cry out to God in prayer. You can read why we needed donated milk here.

First off, let me start this by saying I am NOT a professional, nutritionist, or medical provider. I am just a mom who has done extensive research in what to use as a milk alternative. I am also just going to address dairy-free alternatives and what has worked best for my family.

I am very confident in my children’s nutrition and that they are eating a balanced diet. So, milk, for us, is just a compliment to their diet; a treat. I don’t count on it for calcium, protein, or Vitamin D. In fact, there are many days that we go without milk. Even Frankie only gets milk twice a day now. When we weaned him from breast milk at 13 months old, he was drinking about 30 ounces of breast milk a day. So, my challenge was to get him used to the taste of water now. I kept offering less and less breast milk and more water and coconut milk. Coconut milk is what we chose to wean onto. I didn’t expect Frankie to just stop drinking milk when that is all he had for nearly 14 months. I looked at all my choices: hemp milk, coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, raw milk, and store-bought organic milk. Coconut milk seemed to be the most nutrient-dense, dairy-free choice.

The hardest part about choosing coconut milk was the fact that EVERY single store-bought coconut milk had some terrible ingredients in the carton. The worst of these is Carrageenan. As quoted here off Cornucopio.org, “Carrageenan, a seaweed derivative used as a stabilizer and thickener in foods, has been found to be contaminated with a substance (degraded carrageenan) that is classified by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer as a “possible human carcinogen.”  Research funded by the National Institutes of Health raises serious concerns about harmful effects of carrageenan as an inflammatory agent on the human gastrointestinal tract.”

Homemade Coconut Milk

Method #1: Using Coconut Shreds

Cost: $2 for a half-gallon

So, I tried a few methods of making my own homemade coconut milk. The first way that I experimented with was using Bob’s Red Mill Flaked Coconut Unsweetened, 4 – 12-Ounce Bags to make the milk out of. This was MESSY and not so easy. However, the milk tasted amazing and it was pretty cheap. I used this recipe here and quadrupled it to make about a gallon. It cost me $2 to make a half-gallon of fresh milk…$4 for ALMOST a gallon. However, you need to make sure you get high quality unsweetened coconut shreds because with shredded coconut, the majority of the time the milk has already been expressed out of the shreds. Also, you may want to invest in a “nut bag” to help with the squeezing the milk because this is very messy.

Method #2: Using Whole CoconutCost: $4 for a half-gallon

The other method I did was I used a whole coconut and followed this recipe. According to this recipe, one whole coconut makes a about a quart of milk. The average coconut is around $2 so this method costed me about $4 for a half-gallon of milk…twice as much, however it was delicious! It was much richer than just using the coconut shreds and I could have probably diluted it a bit more with filtered water. However, we liked the richness of it and so did Frankie!

Method #3: Coconut Milk Tonic (using canned milk)

Cost: $4 for a half-gallon

The last method that I tried was this one. It is taken from the book, Eat Fat, Lose Fat. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

14 oz can of full fat Native Forest Organic Classic Coconut Milk, 13.5-Ounce Cans (Pack of 12)

2 1/4 cups filtered water

2 TB Coombs Family Farms 100% Pure Organic Maple Syrup Grade B, 32-Ounce Jug

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp Kal Dolomite Powder — 16 oz

Instructions

Mix all ingredients together in a medium saucepan over medium to low heat until all the dolomite is dissolved.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.

I didn’t have any dolomite powder and am confident that my kids are getting enough calcium from other foods so I didn’t add this. I just mixed everything up in a half-gallon mason jar and shook it! The milk separates from the water as it’s sitting in the fridge so you have to give it a little shake every time you use it. We really like this one too! It was rich, creamy and frothy! I even used it in my coffee a few times.

WHICH METHOD DID I LIKE BEST?

Taste-wise: Method #2, using a whole coconut was the best with method #3, the tonic following very closely behind.

Conveniency: Method #3, the Coconut Milk Tonic was the most convenient and easiest to make. Method #1, using the shreds was messy, took forever, and the taste didn’t even come close to the other two methods. The reason why, is because the process of making coconut shreds, takes a lot of the “milk” out. So, you have a much more watery taste to the milk.

Cost-wise: Obviously, the shreds was the cheapest.

WHICH METHOD DO I NOW USE?

I am using Method #3 and mixing it with a clean Almond milk that I found. Kroger is now making Almond Milk and the ingredients look pretty clean to me. It has no Carrageenan in it and the half-gallon only costs $2.50. So, I am mixing this 50/50 with my Coconut Milk Tonic. This way, it’s not costing me $8 a gallon to make the Coconut Milk Tonic. It’s only costing me about $3 to make a half-gallon of the coconut/almond mixture. Geez, I hope I didn’t just confuse you!

 

 

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30 Responses to Choosing the Right Coconut Milk (for weaning babies)

  1. Valerie October 13, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    This is great info on coconut milk! :) I’m pretty sure we’ll be going with almond milk when our little one is weaned. He is 13 months now. Not sure when we’ll stop BF’ing. ??

    • The Paleo Mama October 14, 2012 at 9:16 am #

      Thank you! Keep the nursing up as long as possible!!!

  2. Melanie October 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    I tried method 3, added sunflower lecithin to help blend (did not work) Mine separated so much, but I truly don’t like the store bought options…any tips?

  3. The Paleo Mama October 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    I’m not sure what sunflower lecithin is. It will seperate. But, just shake it before you pour it out of the container in the fridge. I usually can see water on the bottom…but just give it a shake.

  4. Susanne December 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    Thanks so much for this info! My little one is enjoying his coconut/almond milk mixture very much thanks to this post. I was wondering though if it is ok to microwave the milk to heat it or would that break down some of the beneficial fats & vitamins as it does to breast milk? Thanks for your input, I did a quick search on the web regarding this question and didn’t find anything conclusive.

    • The Paleo Mama December 14, 2012 at 8:01 am #

      I’m not exactly sure. However, I would think if you are just warming it up a little bit to make it more tolerable to your baby, then a quick few seconds shouldn’t hurt it too bad. However, just be careful heating it up in plastic. The BPA could transfer to the milk!

  5. Kim February 3, 2013 at 4:42 am #

    What is the brand of almond milk you found? I don’t have a Kroger, but there are other big grocery stores here, maybe I could find it. All the brands here are full of icky stuff.

    • The Paleo Mama February 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

      Honestly, none. Just this Kroger brand is the closest I’ve seen. However, I just moved to an area with a Whole Foods and Chamberlins, so I plan to do some looking around. If I find one, I’ll let you know!

  6. Amanda February 27, 2013 at 12:30 am #

    Is the maple syrup necessary? My 21 month old is currently on store-bought organic whole milk. I’m ready to switch her to coconut milk. She’s never had sugar except from whole or pureed fruit. Hasn’t even had juice. I’d rather not give her the syrup, but if there are benefits that I’m not aware of, I will. I was going to do the Native Forest Classic Coconut milk straight….maybe thinned a little with filtered water. Thoughts?

    • The Paleo Mama February 27, 2013 at 1:03 am #

      Yes, you will want to use some filtered water with it. It’s way too thick otherwise. The purpose of the maple syrup is 1) for the carbs and 2) to sweeten it. However I think if he is 21 months old you could use something else to sweeten if you would like. Maybe stevia?

      • Amanda February 27, 2013 at 1:52 am #

        Great! Thank you for your quick feedback. It’s nice to know there are other mommies out there with the same goals in mind. Everyone around me thinks paleo is weird and that I’m depriving my child. I appreciate the support you offer through this blog. Many, many thanks!!!

  7. Sarah Sale May 24, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    Why not make your own almond milk too? It seems pretty easy from my limited research. I am lucky in that we have a huge coconut tree in the yard and it has a full harvest this year!

    Sarah

  8. Molly August 3, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    With method 3 how long will it last in fridge?

  9. Brittany August 28, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    How do you feel about guar gum? It’s an ingredient in that brand of coconut milk. That’s the only one I can find in stores so when I saw you recommending one, I was hoping it was a different one. Is guar gum okay then? Just wondering! :)

    • The Paleo Mama August 28, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

      It’s not bad…there’s another one on amazon, Natural Value, with no guar gum.

  10. Amanda Goldman November 25, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    I have been making both homemade almond & coconut milk for quite sometime & after much trial & error, I think I have fine-tuned my milk making methods.

    I find coconut milk pretty easy to make using the shredded version. I learned how to make it here… http://www.pinterest.com/pin/150307706286677859/

    I always do the soak method rather than the quick, heated method. I soak it at room temp for up to 8 hours and then I blend it in batches (I don;t even own a vitamix…my cheapo blender works great). I use flour sack cloths to strain & squeeze out my pulp. MUCH cheaper than a nut-milk bag and just as effective. (4 huge flour sack towels at Target for just $3.99). Anyways, they are really easy to rinse out & toss in the washer when your done.

    The flavor is amazing! Makes you wonder what on earth you are really drinking when you get the store bought stuff which has hardly any coconut flavor imo. I always drink a big glass of the full fat version fresh out of the blender because it’s AMAZING! But then, I let the rest settle in the fridge overnight and I scoop out all of the solid fat the next morning and reserve it to make homemade whipped cream or use it in place of heavy whipping cream in recipes. (You can freeze it too to have some on hand for later). I transfer the remaining de-fatted milk to another container by pouring through a seive to catch the rest of the fat chunks. The milk still tastes amazing but, now, no need to re-blend the fat, which makes it have a chunky/gritty texture.

    And it can be really inexpensive to make too. (Especially when you also turn the remaining coconut pulp into flour!) Back home I went in 3rds with some friends & we purchased a 25 lb. bag of shredded coconut from nutsite.com. I found it here for $1.50/ lb…
    http://www.nutsite.com/bulk-wholesale/dried-fruit/coconut/coconut-unsweet-shred-25-lb.html
    However, they don’t appear to offer free shipping w/ any price point so the lowest shipping is $31.36, which takes it up to $2.75 / lb. That’s still cheaper than whole foods ($3.99 / lb). Since it’s so light, just 1 lb. yields quite a lot of coconut. 2 cups of it weighs apx. 5.47 oz … a little more than 1/4 lb. and you can get about 4 cups of milk and 1 cup of flour from that amount… so it would cost apx. $0.94 to make all of that. Less than $4 for a full gallon PLUS apx. 4 cups of flour. Pretty darn cheap!

    Almond milk is easy to make and also tastes delicious. I also learned how to make it here… http://www.pinterest.com/pin/150307706286677879/

    I use the same flour sack towels as I do for the coconut. I tried saving the pulp to make almond flour… so far no luck with that method. It produced something very dry & flat. After all, true almond flour is NOT de-fattted. It’s quite moist. The pulp remaining from the almond milk is. But, if you get the almonds at Costco, it was pretty affordable. 1 bag was about $12 and yielded 9 C of Almonds. 1 C of almonds yields a full 1/2 gallon of milk. (It settles, so you need to give it a little swirl before serving…easy peasy). So, 4.5 full gallons for $12. (I used to tag along with a friend so I did not even have to pay for membership. Sadly, I just moved away so, not sure how I’m going to get my almonds now and I’ll have to order a full 25 lb bag of coconut for myself and figure out where to store it. I really miss my homemade coconut milk the most!

    Can you tell I’m passionate about making my own milk? haha!

    • The Paleo Mama November 26, 2013 at 9:34 am #

      Hahah Amanda!!! You need to write a post on all this!!!

  11. Wmukai January 4, 2014 at 3:15 am #

    Have you tried making coconut milk out of coconut cream (concentrate) vs the canned coconut milk?

  12. Lynn January 16, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Hi Paleo Mama!!!

    Let me first get this out of the way… I adore you!!! And I was thrilled to find this post when I googled coconut milk formula! I have a question for you about this, since almost everyone I know, including my sons pediatrician is essentially anti-paleo…

    I have been pumping since the day my son was born. We worked really hard but we could never get the latch right. I have been able to get him enough milk until now, at 10 months. But, it has been a long road and hundreda of hours of pumping!!

    He still needs 26-30 oz a day even with plenty of solids, but my supply is dwindling and I only produce 20-24/day. We started to supplement with fresh diluted goats milk, because he refused organic formula as well as homemade powdered goats milk formula. I cannot get raw milk where I live, in Wisconsin. From one paleo mom to another, do you think we could use this recipe to wean him onto startung now?I know they need breast milk or formula until age 1 but I don’t know what to do anymore! He loves coconut oil and has had some coconut milk, so I believe he would tolerate 4-6 oz a day. Any thoughts?’ I have gotta believe its a healthier option than any formula out there!! Thanks Paleo Mama!!!

    ~ Lynn

    • The Paleo Mama January 17, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

      Hi Lynn and thank you for your comment! I cannot answer that question for you because I’m not qualified nor do I know your son. But you do…I would say to go with what your gut is telling you! Hugs mama! You are doing an awesome job!

  13. Samantha February 5, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    Thank you!! This post was sooo helpful! My daughter is almost 18 months and we are beginning to wean her. She loves coconut milk but I can’t find any w/o carrageenan and I knew there had to be another homemade option besides using shredded coconut. Thanks for doing all the work for me;) I am so encouraged hearing about other moms working hard to give their babies a healthy diet. Way to go!!:)

    • Samantha February 5, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      One more thing… What an amazing blessing to have all that donated breast milk!!! God answers prayers:) So glad it worked out that way for you.

    • The Paleo Mama February 5, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

      Thank you Samantha!

  14. Sarah February 12, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    My 15 mon old can’t have milk (it gives her the runs) and I’m researching how to do coconut milk instead, so this post was extremely helpful. I’m not worried about her fat intake – we do lots of salmon (with bones/skin), liver, avocado, coconut oil and FCLO, but I have concerns about calcium. I was reading that plant based sources aren’t great because it’s not as bio available to our bodies. How do you provide calcium to your kids through foods? Interested to know. Thanks!!

  15. Eli February 13, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    Chanced upon your post and found it reassuring (been adding coconut milk to my 12 mo’s diet for some time now)… Thanks for the tonic recipe. Very helpful. I wanted to let everyone now that Asian stores sell coconut milk cheap (er), and without additives. The key, like you said, is to shake before serving or there will be separation. I’ve recently come across tetra packs instead if cans too. Much better if you’re worried about bpa from canned food. Hope that helps.

  16. EdensMomma June 22, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    What about using Native Forest organic coconut milk? Do I need to dilute it?

    Also, do I need to choose full fat or is the light option ok?

  17. Hollie August 17, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    Hi there ! I am from area on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. I’m so greatful I came across this post. I nearly cried today in the supermarket when I rushed out to face the formula war again. My son is almost one and we’ve had problems since day 1 with FF. It’s been a nightmare. I very very reluctantly bought soy formula today out of desperation due to Brooklyn being lactose Intolerent. Even the lactose free formulas are now causing him grief. I was talking to my mother in law tonight ( reluctantly as well lol ) and she said when I was in Thailand she had fed BK few bottles of coconut milk and he slept well and loved it. I was unaware of this, so hence my research tonight. My partner is a South Pacific Islander and she said it’s what the kids grew up on between breast milk as well. I’m sick of the commercial formula I wish I had educated myself sooner. I will be giving this ago tomorrow ASAP. Thank you for sharing this x

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