Coconut Milk Tonic

When dairy was taken out of my diet, I was faced with what to drink, or use in recipes, to replace it. While there are many choices out there, there are very few I would consider drinking personally. One of the first things I increased in our diet was homemade bone broths (mainly chicken broth) for it’s high mineral content (like calcium) to replace what we wouldn’t be getting in milk anymore. Cultures, such as Asian ones, who don’t have dairy in their diet, will have broth at almost every meal. This makes good nutritional sense. But one can’t put chicken broth in chocolate puddings! And I have a hard time making enough to have at every meal.

I looked at my options.

Soy, nut, and rice milk were some of the most popular choices. Soy was definitely out. Highly indigestible (read my posts on soaking grains, and consider that soy is one of the most phytate high legume there is, and you will understand why), and I am not comfortable with other aspects of soy. I liked the taste of nut milk, but I would want to make it myself so that I could soak the nuts before hand (to reduce phytates). Rice milk was another option, and I didn’t mind it to much (as long as I didn’t compare it to real milk). But I wasn’t crazy about it because I didn’t really feel that it added much nutritional value to our diet. It was just grains and water blended up together. And who really needs more grains? I certainly wasn’t excited about making it a mainstay of my, or my family’s diet. We already ate a lot of grains as it was.

And then I found a solution that has been working wonderfully.

Coconut milk won me over. Coconut milk is a traditional food that has been drunk or eaten for a long time. Plus one. Coconut has varying levels of coconut oil in it. Coconut oil is currently making a come back in health groups. In our version of coconut milk, we use coconut juice, or water, which has it’s own benefits as well. I have been experimenting with culturing this mixture with very good results (a coconut kefir!). This isn’t only for “dairy free” people!

In Sally Fallon’s book, Eat Fat, Lose Fat, she recommends drinking a mixture of coconut milk and water with calcium added, in replacement of raw milk, if you are unable to find a local source for it, or allergic. I respect her opinion, so this helped me feel that we were on the right track.

We have been enjoying drinking this “milk”. We use it in our smoothies, in desserts, in hot chocolate, egg nog, and drink it plain! It is very nourishing and satisfying. It even looks like milk (though tastes nothing like it!). I will share Sally Fallon’s recipe for coconut milk, and then give the one my family likes better, that we came up with. My husband thought that Sally’s was a little to watery for his taste, though I liked it just fine. Our coconut milk doesn’t taste watery, because it contains coconut water, or juice, which keeps that coconut flavor.

Sally Fallon’s Coconut Milk Tonic, from Eat Fat, Lose Fat
This has the same amount of calories and calcium as milk.

I can whole coconut milk
2 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or a pinch of stevia)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon dolomite powder (for calcium)

Mix all ingredients together in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and heat until warm and dolomite is dissolved.

Our Coconut Milk Tonic
Our coconut milk tonic has coconut water (or juice) in it. Make sure that you get one that does not contain sugar! It is the water from a young coconut and is very good for you ( it deserves a whole post of it’s own). We use Thai Kitchen’s organic coconut milk. It is very creamy! You could add dolomite powder to this version as well, if desired.

1 can of coconut milk
1 can (17 ounces) of coconut water or juice, no sugar added
1 teaspoon vanilla, optional

Mix together with a whisk, or with a hand blender. Chill and enjoy.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


  1. Candace says

    Hi Kimi,
    That’s interesting info, as always.
    Thank you.
    We have no problems with milk here, but I’m not happy about our choices.
    Raw milk is illegal to buy/sell in my state (unless I buy a cow share), and I’m not crazy about the ultra-pasteurized organic stuff.
    It doesn’t leave for a lot of options.

  2. Linds says

    This is great information. I’m off dairy due to nursing my daughter and her reactions to it and my son is allergic to it as well. We’ve just recently heard about cocunut milk but can’t buy it locally.

    We have found coconut water and I was told it was the same as coconut milk. So coconut milk and coconut water/juice are different?

    Is there any calcium in coconut milk itself without the added calcium?

    Would you recommend using a recipe like this instead of drinking just the coconut milk?

    This might be a silly question but does it taste like coconut?

    Could it be used in place of buttermilk in soaking grains with lemon juice for the acidic medium?

    Sorry-so many questions, but this is great information!
    Thank you!

  3. Kimi Harris says


    The calcium content will depend a bit on what bones you use, how much you water it down, and how long you cook it, but it is full of calcium when done right! I want to do a bit more research and will do a post soon (hopefully!).

    I get mine through a local store, but there are some great sources online, I will try to get back to you on where. :-) Or you can do a google search. The brand I use is Amy and Brian


    Great questions!

    Coconut water is the juice from young, green coconuts. It really is a wonderful food and has it’s own benefit. It’s more like… well… water in looks. Coconut milk is made from the mature coconut, and is much more creamy. In fact the brand that we use seems like mostly cream! As far as calcium content, they don’t have a lot. I think that coconut water may have more. Coconut water is a good source of magnesium which is the other mineral very important for teeth health, so that’s important.

    You can drink the coconut water by itself easily, the coconut milk (from the can, not the recipe) will be very rich by itself (how much depends a bit on the brand). We like drinking it better mixed.

    Yes, it does taste like coconuts. :-)

    I think that it could be very possible to use coconut kefir in place of buttermilk in recipes. But I do think that you would probably need to culture it first for soaking grains.

    I hope that answers some of everyone’s questions!

  4. fruitfulwords says

    Such helpful information here. My daughter (24 yo) is allergic to dairy, wheat, eggs and soy so this information will be great for her.

    Thanks for sharing what works for you all. I’ll be spending more time here.

  5. Brandy says

    Hello. :) This is the first time I’ve left a comment here, though I’ve been reading your blog for many months. (And I appreciate it you sharing your knowledge!)

    Today, I was doing some research on dolomite powder, and I believe I found this post plagiarized at another site! Though perhaps they purchased it from you? Here is the link. I am not sure exactly what can be done about it, but it seems to me that it is surely illegal to take a person’s post and repost it in its entirety without giving any credit! Anyhow, I thought you would want to know.

    And while I have you here: I read somewhere recently that people consuming dolomite powder are at risk for lead poisoning. Do you know if there is any grounds for this assertion? I had started putting dolomite powder into things as my children are on a GFCF diet, but now I’m rethinking it.

    They love your coconut milk tonic, by the way!

  6. Kimi Harris says

    Thanks so much for the heads up. I think that it is a huge problem online to have your posts “stolen” and reposted as someone else’s. I probably need to read more about how to prevent that as much as possible. But in the end, I think the best and only real defense is having readers like you, who watch out for poorly made sites that just copy other people’s work.

    As far as lead in dolomite powder, I had not heard that before. But it would really be something to be concerned about if it was true! I would be grateful if you could send me some links in regard to this. You can post them here, or email me at I will have to research it, and see what I come up with!

    Thanks so much for you comment!

  7. Rebecca says

    So I’ve been a lurker for a while — I am learning so much from you, thanks!

    I tried this, without the vanilla, using the brands you recommended. YUM! I was curious about expiration dates — how long can this tonic keep in the fridge? I didn’t even think about it and slowly drank it over a week’s time. As I was mixing a second batch, I noticed the coconut milk can (this time Whole Foods brand, I already had it in the cupboard) says to refrigerate, then use within 2 or 3 days.

    Also, what about using expired coconut milk? Will it just taste bad, or is it actually bad to use? I noticed my can was expired (April 2008) after I mixed the tonic. I took a small sip, and it does taste different, but it could just be the brand.

  8. Misty D says

    I’ve been using coconut milk mixed with water as a milk substitute for quite some time, and in Aug started making coconut milk ice cream, Chocolate, vanilla, peach, blueberry, mint and Chocolate chip…

    I’m dying for some cheeses or yogurts tho – how is your kefir coming??? I was thinking of trying to make a soft cream cheese using a dairy recipe and rennet.

    I’ve found a cashew pimento “cheese” blend that works well for mac n cheese or as a topping on pizza, but I’d really like the other dairy treats like sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt, etc.

    I love your blog! Thanks for sharing your work with us!!

    • Juanita Comeau says

      Hi. I’m really interested in the cashew pimento “cheese” blend. Could you please tell me where you found this?

  9. Dana says

    Thanks so much for the wonderful information. I am new to your blog but am loving it so far!!

    One thing regarding the coconut milk- are there any brands that do not come in a can? If not is it possible to make it homemade? I do not purchase any food that is canned due to the BPA lining in ALL canned goods- except I believe Eden organic canned beans.

    I appreciate any info you have…

  10. Rosy says

    Another great thing about coconut water is that it is the perfect thing to drink after a workout, or other hot sweaty activities. As the juice of young coconuts has all the electrolytes for your body and is much better for you that sport ade drinks. I like it fresh from coconuts. I haven’t had any canned.

  11. Diane says

    Hi Kimi,

    Just stubbled across your site and love it! Thank you!

    I’d like to make coconut tonic (to use in the gingerbread muffins) and can’t find coconut milk/juice in any stores nearby (including WholeFoods). I don’t want to wait until I can get delivered. Can you recommend a substitute for the coconut milk?

    • KimiHarris says

      Hi Diane,

      Welcome to my site!

      It’s not so surprising that you can’t find coconut water/juice, but I am amazed that you can’t find coconut milk! Sorry! You could always use buttermilk, but if you need a dairy free version, you could try a nut or even rice milk. It might be a little different, but I bet it would still work.

  12. says

    We use coconut water instead of gatorade as an electrolyte drink. The doctors are always amazed at my kids when the do get sick (which is rare enough as it is) because they continue to drink and stay hydrated. It has been especially helpful with the flu and all the vomiting. I keep coconut water ALWAYS on hand, just like Band-Aids in a first aid kit. :) Thank you for sharing this recipe! All of my children have dairy allergies (my son is anaphylactic). I have been trying to find something as a good sub. We were using rice milk, but now that I am reading about grains, that is not a good idea. And with the allergies in my family, we can only use almond milk so often (I made my own, it isn’t difficult at all). I am so excited to try this! And make ice cream and hot cocoa and all those other things we could not do well because of the dairy restrictions. :) THANK YOU!!

    • AJ says

      Hi Paula,

      This an an old post and I hope to connect w/ you!

      I have a 9 month old. She cannot have dairy. I’ve been researching alternatives for her when she is weaned at age one or so. If I could have nursed her – I wouldn’t be searching for alternatives already – but I’m praying for the day she is OFF of her elemental formula. I have been giving her tiny bits of homemade almond milk and coconut milk but am concerned about allergies. My baby food book says nut milks are fine after 8 months. Would I KNOW if she would have a reaction – or could it just be little spots on her skin? I just don’t want to introduce anything to her TOO soon as I’m wondering if that can lead to allergies later one? Conflicting views on that one!
      Anyway, curious to hear when you began alternatives milks on your allergic kids? I don’t know if our daughter has just an intolerance or a full blown allergy yet.
      I would LOVE to find a homemade dairy free alternative formula now – especially b/c she is on homemade organic solids – a great array! Do you have any insight?
      Thank you!!

  13. Jennie says

    HI Kimi,
    I’ve really been enjoying your website and the healthy lifestyle that you live with feeding your family. I’m slowly changing things in our families diet to enrich our nutrition and quality of what we eat. It has been a long process and I’m sure it will conitue to be since I only change one thing at a time. I was wondering about coconut kefir. I have made your coconut milk tonic and our family loves it. But do you just use kefir also in smoothies and soaking. If so have you found a recipe for coconut milk kefir? Do you use regular milk grains or do you start with the water grains? We have 3 children and would like more and I have heard that the kefir is a wonderful drink to have while pregnant. SO I am just beginning the journey on trying to figure it out before I get pregnant again. Thanks so much.

    • KimiHarris says

      Hi Jennie,

      I’ve kept meaning to talk about my experiences with coconut kefir on this blog. You’ve motivated me to finally get a post up about it! Look for it in the next few weeks. :-) Thanks for reading my blog, and for the nice comment. I will definitely try to answer your questions soon!

  14. Ann says

    Hi Kimi,

    Great blog, thanks! I recently read in Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” that you can make your own coconut milk, much more cheaply, using dried coconut and water. Haven’t tried it yet–it seems like it would actually have the same nutrients–what do you think?

    • KimiHarris says


      I hadn’t heard that before, but it’s sure worth a try! I would love to hear back from you if you try it out. :-)

  15. Carly says

    I am dying to find a recipe for coconut kefir- any help would be so gratefully appreciated!

  16. Corry says

    What do you think of hempmilk as a nutmilk alternative when you’re in a hurry? I really love the way it tastes, but haven’t really looked into whether it’s a great nutritionally or not.

  17. Terry says

    After you have made coconut tonic – how long is it good for? I made a batch last Sunday and haven’t used it all yet. It’s just me so I can’t cook lots without things going bad! Thanks!

  18. Christina says

    it’s too bad the Thai Kitchen brand uses guar gum :( it’s the only brand carried by my grocery stores…

  19. Rachel says

    I make a yummy coconut yogurt using pineapple vinegar to “ferment” it. The pineapple vinegar is made by putting the skin of a pineapple in a quart of water and letting sit a few days. You’ll notice it getting fermented. Strain out the skin. Then you just need a tablespoon of it mixed into one can of coconut milk. I tried with homemade coconut milk but since it separates so easily it didn’t do well in the fridge. Let the coconut milk sit out for about 5-8 hours then move to the fridge. After that batch is eaten I just stir another can of coconut milk into the jar and scrape down the sides to mix in the leftover yogurt. After two or three batches it begins to taste even better. I usually use it with granola or fruit but I’ve also used it to make to make tzatziki sauce or in bakng and on pancakes.

  20. Lauren says

    I made a batch of the coconut milk tonic using your recipe. I know that coconut water will ferment after a couple days. I noticed the tonic is starting to look as though it is turning into kefir all on its own. (Separating at the bottom) It could be just the cream rising to the top. I made it two days ago, I doubt it would have spoiled. What are your thoughts?

    • KimiHarris says

      I would say smell it. If it smells fine, take a little taste. :-) It should last a few days without fermenting (unless it was kept at too warm of a temperature). I think I generally have kept mine at least three days with no adverse effects, but I do think it will separate a bit naturally. Just give it a little stir. :-)

  21. Kim says

    Any advice on getting the dolomite powder to dissolve? Mine seems to be rather gritty. Any advice is most welcome. THANKS!

  22. says

    Just made my first batch of this tonight. I did your version, Kimi, with the coconut water. It was so delicious, I thought about just taking the can of coconut milk to the couch with a spoon and eating it! But, it did (most of it at least) make it into the jar where I added the vanilla and coconut water. I’m afraid that I’m going to want to drink the whole jar in one sitting.

    Any idea how much the daily recommended amount of Lauric Acid is for someone with a slightly compromised immune system. I know Sally Fallon says that AIDS patients and severely compromised immune systems should strive for 20-25 grams. How much is too much for “normal” people?

  23. says

    Check any local area with a Hispanic population and you will be able to find all kinds of coconut milk and water products. They are used traditionally in many Hispanic dishes and are easy to find at ethnic grocers or in the ethnic section of a chain grocery store. I am feeling lucky to not only have it in all our stores, but to have several brand choices.

    I am interested to learn more about using coconut water as a sports drink replacement. Great post!

  24. Larissa says

    Hi. I would love to try the coconut milk recipe, but am not sure what size of can to use? I thought I’d try Thai, and have found they sell 5.5 oz, 12 oz, and 14 oz. sizes. Which one should I use for the recipe? Thanks!

  25. Candy says

    I have been drinking tons of bone broth in the past year. I can not handle dairy. I have been struggling with constipation FOREVER. I have been trying the initial GAPS diet. But I’m not sure if it is a coincidence but I started taking the dolomite coconut tonic and I think I am finally getting some relief. Has anyone else experienced this. I thought it was intestinal problem alone. But now I wonder if I just wasn’t nutritionally deficient.
    Is the dolomite allowed on GAPS. I have also been taking some ideas from EAT FAT LOSE FAT by Sally Fallon/Mary Enig in the Health Recovery chapter?

  26. Ronnah says

    Hi Ms. Kim,

    I am currently working on a research about coconut milk as an alternative to dairy milk. And I was happy that I was able to read your blog. Thanks for a wonderful information. I just want to asked what is the expiration of the coconut milk tonic? I havent tried it yet but I am looking forward to try it soon. Ive been seeing coconut milk sold commercially and I wonder if this coconut milk tonic recipe is of the same kind? Do you have the coconut milk kefir recipe? I hope you dont mind if Im asking too much questions. I am really interested in having this on my diet. I love coconut and Im from the Philippines ( lots of coconut here).

    Thank you so much!

    Rona :)

  27. AJ says


    I’m trying to figure out how much fat per cup is in this recipe. Any idea?

    According to my calculations, it’s about 18 grams?? I could be mistaken. 1/4 cup of pure coconut has 11 grams of fat. There are 7 servings per can. Add a bit over 2 cups of water and that’s about what I came up with.


    Thank you!

    I’m trying to get it to where it’s about like whole milk – I’ll be giving it to my 1 year old soon.

    • Mary says

      I was wondering what kind of sea vegetables you use and how you use them – there are several and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and confused as to how to use them especially the amount. I have an 8 mo old that I will be making the coconut milk and want to add calcium to it.

  28. Tanya says

    My daughter also has a dairy allergy. I am looking for a drinkable coconut milk that doesn’t contain carragean. The big carrier of drinkable coconut milk has carragean which I have read isn’t good for the digestive system. My daughter has digestive issues.

  29. Delphine says

    I just made this last night, and it tasted great. I made a big batch of smoothies with it for the week. This morning, it tastes rancid. Do you know why coconut sometimes develops that soapy/bitter taste? This keeps happening to me and I wish I knew how to avoid it.


  30. W Estes says

    Just a few comments on the points in this article:

    – One problem with coconut juice is that it has a high amount of carbohydrates, typically 12 to 20 grams. A coca cola would have maybe 27 grams for comparison. Many people who use coconut milk are either Paleo dieters or diabetics, both of whom strictly avoid liquid carbohydrates and try to get carbs from vegetables and fruit with fiber intact.

    – There is good experimental evidence that supplemental calcium very significantly increases risk of cardiac death and prostate cancer. There is NOT good evidence that supplemental calcium prevents osteoporosis. So that makes me wonder if even the Dolomite version is worth doing. Personally I want to stick to Sardines and cheese and natural calcium sources, where the calcium is presumably bound with the other things you need to absorb it.

    Coconut milk itself is WONDERFUL. As someone who is lactose intolerant, I use coconut milk and organic whipping cream as two of my primary liquid saturated fat sources.


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