“My Superfoods” – Coco-nuts for Coconut Oil

My husband makes me laugh. I love that about him. Even if he is a bit of a nerd sometimes. Hence the title of this post. No folks, I did not come up with that gem on my own…I had help. But I’m laughing, so I don’t know what that says about me.

Seriously though, I am nuts for anything coconut. Coconut lattes, coconut extract, coconut creme, coconut oil, coconut, coconut, coconut…it never gets old. I could sprinkle coconut on an old shoe and it would taste good. Okay probably not, but you get the point. Coconut oil is a  recent craze, being labeled as a “superfood” and touted for it’s health and healing properties. Today I’m going to tell you why I love it, (hint: not only because it tastes like coconut) and how to use it in your daily lives for more than just cooking!

What is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is a oil, extracted directly from the meat of a mature coconut. It is high in saturated fat, about 90% which a few years back was a huge diet “no no.” Today recent studies are showing us that saturated fat is not as bad as it was once deemed. Also, coconut oil, unlike other saturated fats is made up of what are called medium chain fatty acids and are metabolized differently in the body. These medium chain fatty acids go from our digestive tract to our liver and where they are used as a “quick source energy” kind of like glucose, but without spiking our insulin levels. Many studies have shown that these energy spikes can have therapeutic effects on several different brain disorders including Alzheimers.
Also, the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil help to boost metabolism and encourage the body to use fat for energy. This effect can lead to long term healthy weight loss, and increase in energy, lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes contraction, and builds and strengthens the immune system.

Another interesting fact, coconut oil is a solid. When you purchase it will look like a jar of white pasty oil…the best comparison that comes to mind is lard. I know that’s gross. Anyways, that is what it looks like. The coconut oil will liquefy at 77 degrees, but will go back to a solid as you store it.

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Why coconut oil?
Being Italian, I was raised in a kitchen where the olive oil flowed like water. It still does, and nothing tastes quite like the madre’s cooking. 😉
Once leaving home I used olive oil exclusively, but I also had an unhealthy fear of oils in general and would measure small amounts….it was ridiculous. I have learned so much since those days. Today I can tell you that I added coconut oil to my kitchen over 3 years ago, and have not looked back. Why, because of it’s stellar health profile. I’ve have read a number of articles and done research on it’s health benefits, but encourage you to do your own research as well, as I am not a dietary professional. The best health choices are those you believe in! (note: I still use and love extra virgin olive oil as well, but use it a bit differently than I would coconut oil.)
 Health Benefits of Coconut Oil: 
boosts metabolism and promotes weight loss
it is a quick energy source and reduces cravings for less-healthy foods
– it’s fatty acids can kill harmful pathogens and help to fight infections
– the medium chain fatty acids have been shown to help reduce seizures in epilepsy victims
– it supports the immune system, thyroid, and prevents chronic fatigue
– it will hydrate and protect your skin, and even acts as a sun-screen
– helps protect against bladder & yeast infections
– it improves the health of your heart, and reduces the risk of diabetes related health problems
– it reduces wrinkles and skin aging

And much more. Research it, you’ll see!

What kind of Coconut oil should I buy and where?
When shopping for coconut oil you have probably noticed words like “refined”, “unrefined”, “cold-pressed”, “raw” etc. I know, it can be really confusing. Let’s talk a little about some of these.

Refined Coconut Oil:
Refined coconut oil is made from dried coconut, versus the raw coconut meat that makes up raw virgin coconut oil. From what I read this means that it is refined, bleached and deodorized.
Of course, this process gives it some properties that raw virgin coconut oil won’t have. For one, the coconut flavor is basically non-existent, which can be appealing to those who are first trying out coconut oil and are not sure if they can get past the flavor. It can also withstand higher cooking temperatures, making it ideal for things like frying.
However, if you do choose to go with a refined coconut oil make sure that it is non-hydrogenated. It is hard to keep track of the chemicals used in the hydrogenating process, and they can be harmful.
While refined coconut oil is not as good as a raw, virgin coconut oil it is a cheaper option, and a good start for those with a tight grocery budget who would like to try out coconut oil for the first time.

Unrefined Coconut Oil:
Unrefined, usually called raw, or virgin coconut oil is made from the raw meat of the coconut and the oils are extracted using a mechanical process without the added use of chemicals. The more heat that is used in the extraction process the more coconut flavor is extracted as well making the coconut oil, more…well coco-nutty.
When looking for a good, raw, virgin coconut oil you should look for one with a mild scent, and flavor. Also, make sure it is non-hydrogenated.

Where to buy coconut oil?
There are many brands and types of coconut oil on the market. Their prices vary as well, and often indicate the purity of the process and ingredients. But, more expensive doesn’t always mean better.
I would recommend doing your research before purchasing. Find out about that brand’s manufacturing processes, and find a coconut oil that you feel good about buying for your family. 🙂

Also some other things to keep in mind when researching is make sure that when solid your coconut oil has a clean white color and when melted is clear, and that it has a slight aroma and taste of coconut. This will indicate that you have picked a good oil.

I have bought several different brands in the past and have settled on a favorite. I order my Coconut Oil online here in 5-gallon pails. Also, Nutiva has a e-mail deal that they send out every week on Tuesday and they have AWESOME sales. You can often get their Extra Virgin Raw Coconut Oil for up to $15-$20 off regular price, you just have to be patient and wait for the deals.

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However, if you have access to stores; which I do not, Trader Joes has a great price on their EV Coconut Oil, and I have also heard that Cost Co. is selling it now for a good price. Some other good companies are Tropical Traditions, and Wilderness Family Naturals.

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How do I store my Coconut oil?
You can store your coconut oil in a dark place at room temperature, and I have read that it will last up to two years. Mine never makes it that long. And like I mentioned before it will begin to liquefy around 77 degrees.

How do I start using Coconut oil in my diet?

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There are tons of ways you can use coconut oil in your kitchen, here are some of my favorites

– Stir frys or for sauteéing veggies
– In curry, the flavors are amazing and compliment coconut milk well. Try my Pumpkin Basil Curry recipe, it’s yummy.
– In baking. Since coconut oil stores as a solid I find it to be a fabulous substitute for butter in baking. I use it at a 1-1 ratio. (4T butter =4T solid coconut oil) It gives fabulous texture to scones, muffins, and cookies. I’ve yet to try it in something like pie crust, (I’m not much of a pastry girl) but I’ve read that you can.
– As a spread. I love coconut, as stated before, so one of my favorite ways to eat coconut oil is to spread it on a warm muffin, or scone right out of the oven, or on a piece of toast with cinnamon and raisins for a treat. Yum!
– You can also add a spoonful to the blender while making a smoothie, or add a tsp to your hot coffee. I’ve yet to try this, but have heard it’s good. I’ll have to let you know.
– I also like to add coconut oil to my skillet of scrambled eggs in the morning, I think it adds a depth of flavor to the finish product. 🙂
– Most recently I made homemade peanut butter chocolate. You need to make this:
** Melt 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, 1/2 cup natural pb, 1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder, and 1/4 cup raw honey in a saucepan. Whisk until all ingredients are combined and melted. Line a pan with wax paper and pour the chocolate mixture in, and put the pan in the freezer. Once the chocolate is solid, pull the wax paper out and break into pieces. Store in the freezer for when you need just a little somethin”. Amazing. 🙂

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Using Coconut oil beyond the kitchen?
I do not have much personal experience with using coconut oil outside of the kitchen, but it is something that I would like to experiment with in the future. I have read that coconut oil can:
Moisturize and reduce skins wrinkles. Many ladies keep a small jar in the bathroom as a facial and body cream.
It has also been known to greatly reduce stretch marks for pregnant women.
Serve as a moisturizer for hair, and frizz reducer.
Serve as a low SPF sunblock.
Soothe skin after a sunburn.
Be used to make homemade bug repellant, deodorant, massage and bath oils.
Be used to fight athlete’s foot, yeast infections, and head lice. (I need to research some of these things…they sound cool)
I also read somewhere that applied topically it could help pets with skin issues and disorders!

I hope you’ve learned something new today, and that I’ve encouraged you to get some coconut oil in your life! It truly is an amazing, natural product and I use it daily and love it!

Do you use Coconut oil? What is your favorite way to use it? What is your favorite coconut oil recipe?

Go Coco-nuts!
Liesl

2 thoughts on ““My Superfoods” – Coco-nuts for Coconut Oil

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