The Wonders of Coconut Oil

March 18th, 2011 at 11:11 am
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My Lemon-Rosemary Teacakes made with coconut oil

In the past two weeks, I’ve talked to a half dozen random people about coconut oil. I overheard several shoppers in the grocery store chatting about coconut oil last week, and of course I couldn’t help but chime in with my tips and tricks for using it the kitchen. Then the cashier and I got to talking “coconut shop” yesterday and exchanging our favorite ways to use it.

Needless to say, coconut oil is definitely becoming more and more popular these days, so I thought it would be fitting to cast an ingredient spotlight on it here. Writing these posts unleashes the nutrition educator and researcher side of me, which I’ll admit is a nice change up once in a while from recipe testing!

Nearly every day in some form or another, virgin coconut oil makes its way into what I eat. It’s been that way for years, long before I ever went dairy-free. When used to saute vegetables or start soups, coconut oil lends a slightly nutty, almost tropical note in the background of the dish. When melted and added to baked goods, it easily replaces butter or canola oil and offers health-promoting qualities.

I just can’t rave enough about the stuff, so let’s jump in.

Coconut Oil & Health

As far as health benefits, coconut oil has risen in the ranks of many a nutritionist’s view in recent years. Once shunned as a solid saturated fat bad for heart health and weight management, more and more recent studies are discovering that coconut oil actually packs a powerful nutrient punch when compared to most other fats. 

I’ll eat coconut oil in just about any way, shape, or form. In fact, when I was recovering from serious gut damage several years ago after just removing gluten from my diet, I ate coconut oil by the spoonful right out of the jar for it’s healing properties.

Coconut Oil in the Kitchen

These days I enjoy it melted over steamed or roasted vegetables, as a healthy oil for cooking stir-fries and scrambled eggs, and used in baked goods. On particularly active days when I run more or do strength training workouts, I’ll blend a scoop of coconut oil into my morning smoothie for added calories and healthy fats. It’s also great stirred into hot quinoa cereal or oatmeal.

As with most ingredients I spotlight here at DB, go for quality when selecting a coconut oil. Tropical Traditions is an excellent brand known for being high in quality and superior in flavor. Try their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, which is certified organic and naturally gluten-free. Tropical Traditions also offers loads of information regarding how coconut oil is processed, it’s health benefits, and of course, plenty of recipes! Check out their website for a wealth of resources. (Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.)

For now, if you’re looking for some creative ways to enjoy coconut oil or begin incorporating it into your diet, here’s a handful of my favorite recipes:

For 36 more recipes featuring coconut oil in both sweet and savory dishes, visit this round-up of Ricki’s at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs. Coconut oil was featured as the ingredient in her “SOS Kitchen Challenge” several months ago and it reeled in a treasure chest of awesome coconut oil recipes!

Comments

  1. This is great information!! I almost forgot that my homeopathic doctor told me no vegetable oils, except for coconut oil. And, to use butter/ghee, or fish but anything else was out. He said plant oils cause depression, heart disease and cholestrol problems. I have been having problems with my skin and he said that our skin had the same cells as our gut and that our skin is a reflection of our gut. I enjoy reading your blog. and trying out your recipes.

  2. Mercedes said on March 19, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I’m curious about your experience with repairing gut damage after removing gluten from your diet. I’m still learning, but I’m in the process of this myself. Could you share some more information about your experience?

    • Mercedes: I worked with a holistic nutritionist who helped guide me through the process of repairing my gut after removing gluten from my diet, which was extremely helpful! She recommended I take L-Glutamine for several months. It’s an amino acid that is highly prevalent in the lining of our intestines. When we have food allergies, that lining gets damaged so it’s essential to repair it in order to absorb nutrients from foods we do eat. I incorporated coconut oil for healthy fats and anti-microbial properties (several tablespoons a day), as well as other healthy oils from sources like nuts and avocados. Fat is very healing and at the time was one of the only things I could eat that didn’t bother me. I also drank a lot of soothing ginger tea and tried to eat as hypoallergenically as possible. It took a few months to get back up and running, but for the past few years since then I’ve never felt better. All the best to you! :)

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more! Coconut [and coconut oil] have been such a key item in healing my digestion and improving my health. I recommend it to ALL of my clients and use it in place of butter in absolutely every recipe.

  4. Over the last year I have started using Coconut oil so much more. I use it in stir fries, and just recently started using it pie crusts in place of butter. In fact we hardly use any butter at all now.

  5. I am wondering how long you should keep coconut oil for? I have had some for a while it still tastes and smells ok. I have done the same as you and take small amounts just on its own. I am sure I heard somewhere if you have an underactive thyroid, mine is slightly that coconut oil can help??
    Anne

  6. Great post, Hallie! And as you know, I adore coconut oil and use it all the time. Thanks so much for mentioning the SOS roundup on this fabulous ingredient! :D I’m so happy to see that it’s becoming more and more familiar to people, and available more widely. And I agree, Tropical Traditions is a top-notch product. :)

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I'm Hallie Klecker, a professional recipe developer, author, and passionate gluten-free foodie. As a certified holistic nutrition educator, my goal is to inspire others to live a balanced, nourished life through eating well and living pure—one bite at a time. Learn more.