Until quite recently the closest I got to a coconut was in a Bounty bar, which I thought was as good as it got, why would you need more? I didn’t even know what one looked like, where they came from let alone how to get into one.My journey of discovery began when I identified a dairy intolerance but also because of my love of Asian food. Whilst in Asia I would gorge on curries and creamy soups with no ill effects (apart from the occasional travellers stomach) and I would also buy a coconut to drink from the street stalls (thankfully they open it for you).Dairy intolerances seem more prevalent today and this has lead to more mainstream information and sharing of ideas, coconut milk and cream feature heavily. Being intolerant to dairy made creamy sauces untouchable until I substituted coconut cream. The more I researched the more alternatives I found until I came to the wonderful realisation that I would not have to go without ice cream again.It turns out the coconut has many uses and all of the different parts can be used. Weather it’s the oil, flesh, water, milk, cream and the husks make great serving bowls that add a fancy twist when serving up rice dishes.The oil can be used for cooking with high heat, greasing baking tins, basting meat, making dressing – just about anything you’d use cooking oil for. The milk and cream of a coconut can be used as alternatives anywhere you’d use dairy milk and cream, but it’s especially great in porridge, curries and making ice cream!Coconut water has recently found fame thanks to celebrity endorsements, it’s a great hydrator and natural, it has more electrolytes than water but none of the unhealthy additives the sports drinks on the market have, you can mix it with cranberry juice or similar if you want a different taste to it.The flesh is nice to eat on its own or with sweet desserts but dried and shredded makes a great alternative to sugar. I put it in my baking, on my cereals and even in sauces, anything that needs a bit of something sweet really.And it doesn’t stop there, coconut is also an excellent addition to your beauty regime, it’s inexpensive, multiuse and natural so totally good for you inside and out. Due to concerns over toxins in our beauty products I now also use coconut oil in the bathroom. It’s a great hair conditioner and skin moisturiser which also naturally contains a low factor sun protection. Coconut oil can also be used to remove makeup and cleanse your face.When I tell people I put coconut oil on my hair and body they look at me like I’ve just told them I smoother myself in butter or something.I also use coconut oil for oil pulling, which is an Ayurvedic cleansing technique, by swishing melted coconut oil around your mouth for 20 minutes then spitting it out you help remove bacteria and toxins from your mouth and lymph system, it leads to whiter teeth, healthy gums, fresh breath and detoxes the body.So rather than spending hundreds of dollars on products that ‘contain coconut’ why not use the real thing, 100% natural, no chemicals added, good for you and good for your wallet. It’s what the ancient tribes have used for thousands of years before the invention of chemical products and in my opinion is a wonder product of its own.And of course it still tastes really great with chocolate too!