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Coconut is one of the most popular and hyped foods of recent years, and if you believe everything you read, it cures everything from diabetes to Alzheimer’s! As you probably realise if you’ve been reading here for a while, I’m not really a fan of ‘superfoods’ or food as medicine, but I do like cooking with and eating as wide a variety of ingredients as possible, so coconut in all its permutations is certainly something I use regularly in the kitchen.

So why the ‘life-changing’ heading?  Well I realise it’s slightly ambiguous, but this is actually the tag line of a wonderful local company, niulife, which I’ve been buying coconut products from since 2009.  I was attracted to them initially because they were local, and sourced their coconut directly from communities in the Solomon Islands, but became increasingly impressed by their commitment to a community development model that reinvests all profits back into these communities.

I love seeing where my food comes from and finding out more about how it is produced, so when Serina Huang invited me along on a tour of the Niulife warehouse early in 2017, I  very quickly said yes!  I had a general idea about what the company produced, but not so much about how it was produced, particularly how the coconut oil and other products are made in small villages and then shipped, packaged etc.

Our guides for this tour were Dan and Maureen Etherington, the lovely couple pictured above, who founded niulife  based on a process developed by ‘Dr Dan’ in 1994. More information on the company and the DME® (Direct Micro Expelling) Coconut Oil Press and Process is here. The difference it has made to so many communities is amazing – have a look at a few of the stories on their site.

The company now produces a wide range of products, from the original coconut oil, through to coconut flour, sugar, a range of sauces, and even soap. I always like to include a recipe, and this muffin recipe is a favourite of mine that uses several of the niulife products.

These muffins are a lovely gluten free treat that use coconut flour, and sugar, and oil. You don’t actually have to use the coconut sugar (brown would be fine) and you could probably use butter, but I rather like the fact that they use three different aspects of this amazingly productive tree, and it also means they’re dairy free for those who can’t eat dairy.

The coconut flour gives a somewhat denser texture than a normal muffin, but they are still very tender, and the combined flavours of chocolate and coconut come through in every bite. Coconut sugar, for those who haven’t tried it, has a wonderful smoky caramel flavour that also goes beautifully with the chocolate and coconut oil.

Coconut sugar, oil, and flour are now widely available, though I highly recommend the niulife products, which you can buy here.

Disclaimer: I don’t do sponsored posts, and didn’t receive any compensation for this post. I have bought niulife products for years, and bought the products for this recipe, I just think it’s a great local company doing wonderful work with our South Pacific neighbours. 

Triple coconut chocolate muffins

Adapted from a recipe on Chocolate & Zucchini

  • 250g dark chocolate
  • 140g (2/3 cup) coconut oil
  • 200g coconut sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 120g coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with silicon or paper liners.

Melt the chocolate and oil together on low power in the microwave or in a bowl over hot water. Stir until smooth. Whisk together eggs, and gradually beat into the chocolate and oil. Beat well until the mixture becomes smooth, shiny, and noticeably thicker. Whisk the dry ingredients together and fold into the batter.

Scoop into the muffin liners, and bake for 17-20 minutes until slightly risen, firm on top and a skewer comes out just barely clean. Take them out a minute or two earlier if you want a moister middle.

Cool for 10 minutes on a cooling rack in the liners, before removing to cool completely. They will last a couple of days at room temperature and freeze well.

Makes 12