There is no better way to start making a smoothie than feeling the heft of a cleaver in your hand and bringing it down onto a young coconut. The thud is satisfying, and the rush of cracking into the tough outer shell to get to the lightly salty coconut water and the soft, rich meat is worth all the effort. As a vegetarian, this is about as close to butchery as I'm gonna get. And I have to admit, butchering a coconut is pretty fun!
Go look for a young coconut -- but know that they're not the classic-looking brown, hairy coconuts that monkeys carry around in cartoons. They're white on the outside and usually shaped into a cone at the top. Young coconuts have more water in them, and the meat is softer, almost jelly-like, and it's easy to scrape out with a spoon.
Once you've opened the coconut, you can make our new favorite smoothie using this amazingly healthy, loaded-with-electrolytes ingredient. We use cocoa powder to give it a chocolatey flavor and sweeten it with banana and dried dates.
Young Coconut Smoothie
1 young coconut
1 large banana (peeled, preferably frozen)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
4 dried dates
2 cups ice
pinch of sea salt
To crack open the coconut: set it on a steady cutting board, take a cleaver or large knife in your dominant hand, put your other hand behind your back -- DO NOT EVER STEADY OR HOLD THE COCONUT WITH YOUR OTHER HAND! -- and patiently chop the cleaver into the top of the coconut four times, thus making a square. Using the tip of your cleaver, pry the cut part away to reveal an opening in the top of the coconut. Here's a quick video!
Pour the coconut water through a strainer and into your blender. Scape the coconut meat out with a spoon and place it in the blender as well. Add the banana, cocoa powder, dates, ice, and salt. Blend until smooth. (Serves 2.)