A Thai-style cilantro limeade may sound somewhat exotic but it’s really nothing more than water, lime juice, cilantro, coconut sugar and a pinch of salt. And you can whip it up in a matter of minutes.
I adapted it from a recipe in The Herbalist’s Kitchen, a new cookbook by herbalist Brittany Nickerson. Brittany lives here in western Massachusetts and I was lucky enough to attend her book release party in Amherst a few weeks ago. I picked up a copy, and a few days later, on an intensely muggy 90-plus degree day, I came across her recipe for a cilantro lemonade.
When I saw the picture there was an intuitive voice inside me that said I NEED THAT NOW! Except I didn’t have lemons or honey, two essential ingredients in the recipe.
However, as I was doing a Thai soup cooking class the next day, I realized I could easily adapt the recipe into a Thai-style cilantro limeade. So I subbed limes for lemons and coconut palm sugar (but not the granulated type) for honey.
As soon as I took a sip it was like someone turned an AC on inside me. Man did that hit the spot.
Cilantro is of course, a widely used herb around the world and is quite prominent in Thai cuisine. I feature it quite a bit in my own book, The Thai Soup Secret. In The Herbalist’s Kitchen, Brittany details the many health benefits of cilantro which includes digestive health, detoxification, blood sugar balance and removing excess heat from the body.
What makes a cilantro limeade so great on a hot summer day is the combination of cilantro, citrus, sugar and a little salt. In her recipe Brittany states, “The combination of cilantro’s cooling and detoxifying properties with the high amounts of vitamin C found in the lemon juice, the enzymes and sugars from the honey, and a little pinch of mineral-rich salt help to replenish the body on a hot day.”
Limes are also a great source of vitamin C and coconut palm sugar has health benefits too (in moderation, of course). Please see my article 5 Reasons Why it’s OK to Eat Natural Sugar to learn more about the health benefits of coconut palm sugar.
Most of us are familiar with the granulated version of coconut sugar which is widely available in supermarkets. But for this recipe I use the version that’s more of a soft paste. This syrupy version has more water content than the granulated version and it’s made very much the same way that maple syrup is made. Coconut sap is collected from the buds of coconut tree flowers and is then boiled to various consistencies. The reason I recommend the syrup version is that it has a richer, more creamy caramel taste than the granulated version.
The differences in taste are like night and day. Once you taste it for the first time it will be hard to go back to the granulated version.
Any Asian food store will have multiple types of coconut sugar. If you don’t have an Asian food store near your, I’ve noticed a few health food stores now stocking the coconut sugar syrup version alongside the more common granular products.
My local health food co-op, River Valley Market, in Northampton, just started stocking this product:
I decided to give it a shot and was impressed with the rich, creamy flavor. This is what it looks like inside:
I think this is a new product by this company because I couldn’t find it on their website or even on Amazon. But they do have a straight palm sugar product which would be very similar to this one. You can find it here on Amazon.
Otherwise, if you don’t have an Asian market nearby, I’ve used Eastland Palm Sugar, which is another product directly from Thailand.
Once you have the cilantro, limes and coconut sugar, you’re ready to make a Thai-style cilantro limeade.
Here’s a simple recipe adapted from The Herbalist’s Kitchen.
A simple limeade recipe with a Thai twist.
In recent years, herbalism has moved from the fringes of the natural health movement to a more mainstream awareness. Many of us are now re-discovering the benefits of herbs and the many ways our ancestors used them in everyday life.
In Recipe’s from The Herbalist’s Kitchen, you’ll learn traditional uses of herbs with simple recipes for things like herbal teas, herb tinctures, herb-infused oils and vinegars, herb-infused honeys, herb butters, herbal drinks, herb pestos and many more.
There’s also recipes for broths, soups, stews, salads, meats and fermented foods.
If you’re new to using herbs in your kitchen, I couldn’t recommend a better starting point than this book. Personally, I’ll be using it for years to come.
Finally, if you’re interested in learning directly from Brittany, head on over to her website, Thyme Herbal and check out her many class offerings including options for online study.
Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.