I get questions quite frequently about how to use coconut oil. Despite my Italian heritage (especially in the kitchen), I have almost completely replaced all fat in our cooking, including EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), with coconut oil.
For starters, why? Coconut oil has many scientifically-backed health benefits. Some of these benefits include repair of brain function, prevention of heart-disease and high blood pressure, fights cancer, reduction of inflammation and arthritis, boosts your immune system, improves memory, energy and endurance, improves digestion and skin issues, prevention of gum disease and osteoporosis, helps with weight loss, benefits the condition of your hair, fights aging and it even balances hormones. In addition to the benefits, there is another reason that we have replaced our fat intake with coconut oil that goes hand in hand: it isn't a bad fat, like many of the others.
Many people are aware of all of this but don't know how or when to use the oil. My answer: pretty much any time you were going to use another fat. Some people claim that they don't like the taste but I challenge them to a blind taste test, i.e., I think a lot of the dislike may be psychological. That said, if you can't get past the ever so slightly present coconut flavor/scent (which I seriously can't detect once it is cooked), I think there are still a lot of ways to use it that can compliment your cooking (think Caribbean cooking).
Another noteworthy point to mention is that not all coconut oils are the same. We use Aldi's Simply Nature Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. It costs $4.99 for a 14 oz. jar - very reasonable.
I've also used LouAna brand coconut oil, both the organic and traditional kind. I've found that this brand is available at most grocery stores and that it has a slightly less coconut "essence" to it. The reason for this is that LouAna is a refined coconut oil, and therefore won't hold quite as many of the health benefits of its virgin cousin. This may be a good transitional coconut oil for people to try. For purposes of use other than having less flavor, the only real difference is the smoking point - refined coconut oil smokes at 450 degrees F whereas virgin coconut oil smokes at 350 degrees F.
So how can you use coconut oil in your home? Coconut oil comes in a jar and if stored at room temperature or colder is hard in its consistency. I scoop ours out using a tablespoon and go from there. It melts very quickly once you drop it in a pan and if you are applying it to hot food (say a warm piece of toast), it will begin to melt much like butter. Here are some ideas.
Uses in the kitchen:
- Feed it to your dog. You can give your dog about a teaspoon per 10 pounds daily. I've seen people melt and then allow to harden in ice cube trays to give as a treat. We add about a teaspoon to Bruiser's food at dinner. He thinks he is getting a special treat but really we are boosting his health.
- Baking. Unlike other "healthy" fats, coconut actually works in cookies. Believe me, I've tried it. I substitute 1 to 1 for butter. You get a nice chewy/crispy cookie that holds true to the recipe.
- "Butter" your toast with it.
- Saute vegetables with it.
- "Butter" your rice or noodles with it.
- Bake salmon with it. I spread about half a tablespoon on a few slices of lemon in my baking dish, place the salmon portion on top, skin down, then spread about another half a tablespoon of coconut oil on top of the salmon. Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees F. This is the best way I have ever eaten salmon and could honestly eat it every day if salmon weren't so expensive.
- Use it in your mashed/smashed potatoes in place of the butter. George is a potato fanatic and he loves his potatoes this way. In fact, when he makes his famous smashed potatoes, he opts for the coconut oil.
- Use it in a smoothie.
- Use it to cook chicken. Whether you are cooking up some chicken tenders in the skillet or roasting chicken in the oven, coconut oil pairs so well with chicken. I've used it to saute chicken, to roast a whole chicken, chicken thighs and chicken breasts. You'll find that it keeps the meat very tender.
- Use it to make homemade coffee creamer.
These are just a few ideas. Like I said, we use it for pretty much any cooking that requires fat.
Uses outside the kitchen:
- Lip balm
- On your skin for psoriasis
- On your skin for anti-aging
- Homemade lotion bars
- Homemade deodorant
- Natural homemade diaper cream
- Teeth whitening tooth paste, with or without baking soda
- Cuticle rub
- Natural baby lotion
- Homemade soap
- Use externally on pets with skin issues
These are just a few of the really endless ways that you can incorporate coconut oil into your diet and home. A way to get you started. The options are endless and really, the more ways you can use it, the better. It is so good for you.
Thank you for stopping by, I really do appreciate it. Remember to follow me on Instagram and Pinterest and that you can read me in the Apple News format - just search for Authentic Living Digest. Until the next time!