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!