I've recently developed an obsession with all things coconut. It's a bit ironic since most of my dearest friends often call me a coconut - brown on the outside, white on the inside (SPOILER ALERT: I'm of Indian origin).

Oops, I'm brown

My obsession all started when my dog, Kodi, was a puppy and used to suffer really badly from dry, itchy skin. I couldn’t stand to see my baby suffer so every week for about a month I would give him a late night coconut oil massage. (I used CocoTherapy’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil - 100% safe for puppy consumption.) Why late at night? Because that was the only time he was calm and tired enough to stay put. I would rub his whole body with coconut oil, massage it into his paws, and let him lick a tiny amount out of the palm of my hand. Talk about bonding. If you’ve never let a lab retriever smother you with licks/kisses with their giant warm tongues, you are seriously, SERIOUSLY missing out. Anyways, the point of the story is that the coconut really seemed to be helping. It didn’t take long for me to take the concept and apply it to my own skincare regimen.

Coconut is an essential product for human skin in the winter months too - whether you rub it all over your body or ingest copious amounts of it. As someone who has shown strict loyalty to oatmeal and vanilla scented products for the past 6 years, I now admit defeat and bow down at the altar of coconut. I’ve been slowly switching out my standard beauty products for some new coconut-infused ones for the past few weeks and I am absolutely LOVING the results. My skin is softer and smoother, my hair is glossier and silkier, and my skin is brighter and acne-free. (And if you’re looking for something more than just aesthetics, check out some of these coco-crazy health facts.)

So I thought I’d share some of my most favorite coconut products as of late:

I’d also like to take a moment to discuss the religious and cultural importance of the coconut in my life. Broken coconuts are offered as part of Hindu poojas for weddings, festivals, and to bless new vehicles, homes, or offices.

Our home temple

I remember that when I was a senior in high school my then boyfriend had just passed his driver’s test and gotten his first ever car. He came over to my house to show me his license and new whip when my dad told him that he should break a coconut. My boyfriend stared at my dad like he was insane and said “WHY WOULD I BREAK A COCONUT ON MY BRAND NEW CAR?” I burst out laughing and explained to him that in Indian culture we always break a coconut in front of a new car as an offering for good luck and safety. It was odd to experience an age old custom in my life through the eyes of a stranger to Hindu ways. I guess, in fairness, your brown girlfriend’s father telling you to break a coconut on your brand new car is probably one of the weirdest things that could happen to you at the age of 17.

At the time I didn’t fully understand the significance of the coconut in Indian culture, but a little research as of late has brought me a whole new understanding and appreciation for this fruit.

It’s important to note that the type of coconut that I am referring to for Hindu pujas is not the massive, fibrous white/green coconut you hack the top off of and dip a straw into. Those are young coconuts. Baby cocos, if you will. The coconuts we use for pujas are the older, more mature coconuts that have developed a husky brown shell. That husky brown outer part is made entirely of fibers, and in Hindu culture those fibers represent human desires.

Before offering a coconut in a puja those outer fibers must be removed - leaving you with the hard shell brown coconut that you might be more accustomed to. This is to symbolize that we are presenting ourselves to God stripped of our desires: naked, raw, and stubborn but definitely breakable.

Diwali Puja 2013

The hard shell of the coconut represents the human skull while the white flesh of the inside represents our brain filled with an inner juice. The juice symbolizes the negative human energies of jealousy, egoism, and selfishness. In order to prove our unfaltering love and devotion to God, we break a coconut and empty the juices before offering the purest form of ourselves for blessings.

Although I don’t consider myself a very religious person, I have always embraced Hindu traditions and rituals for their symbolism. The meaning behind the use of the coconut in Indian pujas makes so much more sense to me now and makes me love and appreciate this magic fruit even more.

One of my most favorite things about Indian rituals, however, has to be the practical use for everything used in pujas. Once a coconut has been broken and offered to the Gods, it is used to its fullest potential. The flesh is separated and shared as prasad (blessed food similar to Christian’s communion I guess). The shell and flesh scraps are ground up and used to make coconut milk that is then used in curries, beverages, and sweets. The liquids are saved and are used in medications, oils, and soaps. Just like the Ganges River is a holy river that is used for prayer, washing, and livelihood - the coconut’s use goes beyond religion and becomes a part of everyday life. And that's just about the most beautiful marriage of religion and life that I could possibly ask for.

Do you guys use any coconutty products? How about other superfoods, like perhaps avocados? I’d love to hear more about it all in the comments below or on my Facebook page!

Sending you coco-flavored-keeses, xx Nikbear