Sweet Coconut and Turmeric Milk


Whenever I had a hard time falling asleep as a child (which didn’t happen very often), my father would make me a warm cup of milk with a spoonful of honey. He always served it to me on the same bunny rabbit saucer, and I never doubted the power of that honey-milk to roll me into a cozy slumber.

So today, when I feel restless at night, I cook up this sweet coconut milk recipe. It contains the heart of my dad’s recipe, with a little ayurvedic twist for the yogi in me.

Along with its nostalgic and sleep-inducing qualities, the following recipe is particularly great for women during their luteal phase, or one week before menstruation, because it contains turmeric, a powerful, warming ayurvedic spice touted for its anti-inflammatory properties. Integrative nutritionist Alisa Vitti (founder of the virtual hormone health center FLOliving.com and best selling author of Womencode) says turmeric helps regulate estrogen metabolism (which reduces painful inflammation), improve circulation, and stabilize blood sugar. Typically, menstrual cramps are caused by chemicals called prostaglandins, which are also responsible for inflammation and pain (think low back pain or headaches). Vitti believes that dreaded period symptoms can be improved by adjustments in diet and lifestyle.

When I heat up this beautiful drink, I always add a natural sweetener (call me nostalgic). Vitti suggests honey, but I also like a teaspoon of organic maple syrup or a bit of agave. They tame the sometimes drying taste of turmeric, and help satisfy my nighttime sweet tooth!


  • 5 tablespoons organic virgin coconut oil

  • ½ cup organic powdered turmeric

  • 1 cup water

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 cups coconut milk (canned or boxed works, just be wary of preservatives)

  • Honey, maple syrup, cinnamon to taste


  1. It’s best to start by making a golden paste, which will serve as the base of your drink when cool. In a small pot, mix the organic virgin coconut oil, the organic powdered turmeric, water, and black pepper. Let simmer on low for 10 minutes while stirring (making sure to break up all the chunks of turmeric).

  2. Pour the thick mixture into a glass jar. It will keep well in the fridge for up to three weeks.

  3. When you’re ready, warm coconut milk in a small pot, stirring in 1 teaspoon of the golden paste (I’ll never be able to get over how vibrant that yellow is).

  4. Add honey or maple syrup, along with pepper or cinnamon to taste!

About the Teacher

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Larell Scardelli
Larell Scardelli is a freelance writer and artist. Her writing has appeared in Rodale’s Organic Life... Read more