Coconut Water: Nature’s Own (Wicked Expensive!) Sports Drink

I spent most of the week before last on a yoga retreat, which was awesome. But it was also blazing hot. Even with intermittent air conditioning, I was sweating like a hog. So I was in desperate need of healthy fluids, and I needed something more effective than just water, but better than a sports drink. The answer: coconut water.

Coconut water comes from the inside of an unripe, green coconut. It’s what would turn into coconut milk if the coconut were allowed to ripen all the way.

Unlike coconut milk, the water is light, refreshing, fat-free, and replenishes lots of the same things sports drinks replenish (especially potassium), without all the various sugars, colors, and flavors.

It is, however, quite expensive: almost $6 per liter. I recommend mixing it with some regular water. It won’t be quite as lusciously tasty, but it will go farther and still be good for you.

And you absolutely must have it chilled.

You can also make cocktails with it, but that will of course negate its effects as a sports drink. For example, Chuck T. at Flickr has posted a recipe for a Coconut Water and Ginger Caipiroska:

You can find it at Whole Foods, and probably some other places as well, such as Harvest in Cambridge. It comes in individual serving sizes and liters, in aseptic packages. There are several brands available, and each has several flavors.

My fav brand (based mostly on price) is Zico, and my fav flavors are plain and mango.

Mincemeat has a bad rap

For about a year now, I’ve been thinking about trying to make home-made mincemeat for my husband. My father loved mincemeat, and my mother would buy jars of Nonesuch Mincemeat and make a pie for him every winter. As a picky eater, I resolutely refused to even taste it. I don’t think my mom especially liked it, and perhaps my older brother would eat a bit. Despite my refusal to have even one taste of it, I remember thinking it smelled good. It was dark brown, and smelled sweet and spicy.

My memories of this good smell made me think that my husband would enjoy mincemeat, and that I might actually like it, too. We both love that other, much-maligned holiday treat, fruitcake (but only from Deluxe Fruitcake in Corsicana, TX–it’s the only one worth eating). I did some internet research for recipes and found one that looked like the right combination of tasty and not too difficult.

So, what is mincemeat? It’s been around for hundreds of years and no one seems to know what it’s all about. Traditionally, it did contain finely minced beef, along with fruit (fresh and dried), spices, fat (as suet) and some sort of alcohol like wine. It was a way to preserve meat and fruit in a time before refrigeration. I did find several recipes that had beef listed as one of the ingredients, but since I don’t eat beef (and since it sounds kind of yucky to put it in a sweet pie), I sought out an all-fruit version.

From reviewing several recipes, I determined that it’s a fairly flexible recipe that should contain some fresh apple and maybe some fresh orange, a variety of dried fruit (raisins, cherries, peaches, apricots), butter, spirits like brandy and spices. It’s actually really easy to assemble, and cooked quietly and happily on the stove for about 40 minutes.  I used the recipe for Bubby’s All-Fruit Mincemeat (found at, and adapted it to what I had on hand. Here’s a link to the original recipe.

I haven’t yet made my mincemeat pie, but this stuff is awfully tasty just eaten with a fork!

My adaptation of Bubby’s excellent recipe is as follows:

Cathy’s Mincemeat

1 Granny Smith apply, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces

1 naval orange, cut into small pieces (including skin and pulp)

2 small (or 1 large) Bosc pears

1/2 cup red wine

1 cup succanat (or rapidura, an unrefined sugar)

3/4 cup Brandy

1/4 cup dark rum

1/2 cup water

4 oz raisins

4 oz dried bluberries

4 oz dried apricots, cut into small pieces

3 oz mixed dried apples and peaches, cut into small pieces

5 tbsp butter

1 oz candied ginger, cut into small pieces

1 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

pinch cayenne

Combine all ingredients in a 6-quart saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and let it gently simmer for about 40 minutes, or until all of the dried fruit is plump and soft, and the liquid has been reduced to a very thick syrup. Cool completely. This should keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Now you’re ready to make pie!

Let mixture cool completely. It is not ready to use as a pie filling, or whatever else sounds good to you.