Coconut Oil

Jul 11, 2013

Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef: Coconut Oil, by Maria Filosa

I'm Maria Filosa from WDIY and you're listening to Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef. There is a lot of controversy involving the use of coconut oil in your diet. Most of the misinformation has been spread throughout the years by several industries who preferred you consume their product which usually did not have the same health benefits as coconut oil and other tropical oils. It's a political bombshell that has caused the medical community to recommend to their patients that they totally avoid coconut oil because it is a saturated fat. Unfortunately, the whole story is not told by many doctors and dieticians because there are actually two categories of saturated fats. They are animal based and plant based. Of course, the plant based saturated fats are much healthier. However, we would need to look at each type of oil in order to really know whether it is wise to include it in our diets. For instance, there are oils or fats that are actually sold to us in stores that have been sitting in warehouses or on shelves for months. These oils have a short shelf life and become rancid sometimes even before we purchase them. The only indication we would have is if they have a stale smell but by this time they are really far gone and should be discarded. Rancid oils cause more damage in our bodies than we are lead to believe. On the other hand, tropical oils such as non-hydrogenated coconut oil have an amazingly long shelf life and remain stable even if heated. That in itself should make you stand up and take notice. But there are more health benefits to coconut oil. Some of the health benefits are that it helps in the fight against viruses, bacteria, yeast, fungus and candida. It has a positive effect on hormones for thyroid function thereby increasing metabolism. Coconut oil improves the way our body uses insulin for better blood sugar control. It increases digestion and aids in the absorbtion of fat-soluble vitamins. This oil contains lauric acid which has been shown to increase the good HDL cholesterol blood levels. For the weight conscious, studies have shown that women who consume just 2 tablespoons of coconut oil a day for 12 weeks not only didn't gain any weight but also had a decrease in abdominal fat.

A delicious sweet satisfying way to get some more coconut oil into your diet is to make a candy from it. I use only non-hydrogenated virgin coconut oil so it has a faint flavor of coconut which I love anyway. Melt 1/4 cup of coconut oil over very low heat. In the summer, this is not even necessary since it is liquid at about 76 degrees. Mix in 2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder and 2 packets of raw stevia. Pour this mixture into small candy molds and place in the freezer to harden. You can also put finely chopped nuts and unsweetened coconut into the molds before filling with the liquid if desired. If you can't find raw cocoa powder, you can use either unsweetened chocolate or in a pinch, sweetened chocolate chips, just omit the stevia. This recipe makes about 6 pieces depending on the size of your molds. The candies need to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer so they don't melt. Enjoy 3-4 pieces daily as a treat. And how about chocolate peanut butter fudge! Melt 1/4 cup of coconut oil if it is solid then mix in 1/2 cup peanut butter of your choice, 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Spread onto a parchment paper covered cookie sheet about 1/2 inch thick and freeze until firm. Cut into bite sized pieces. Store in refrigerator and enjoy often!

Another way to get some coconut oil into your life is to use it in fruit smoothies and for most of your cooking needs. It is important to know that it has a low smoking point, about 350 degrees, so it shouldn't be used for any deep frying if a higher temperature is required for your recipe. I have successfully substituted coconut oil for the butter or vegetable oil in most of my recipes without any problems at all. I also like to make a spread for my morning toast using butter, coconut oil and olive oil. Heat a stick of butter until almost melted, remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup of coconut oil and 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Mix with an immersion blender. Chill slightly until thick but not solid. Use immersion blender again to lightly whip all the ingredients together. Pour this into a mason jar and store in the refrigerator. This spread gives you the buttery taste, along with the benefits of the other two oils.

Since there is so much information and misinformation about coconut oil, I urge you to do your own research to find your comfort zone with this topic. I'm Maria Filosa, thanks for listening to Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef...have a bountiful day!