Coconut Oil: Why We Love It
Coconut Oil is the oil extracted from the coconut. A friend introduced me to it a number of years ago. I was skeptical. But after playing around with it for a couple of years, it became a fixture in our pantry. After playing with it in a variety of recipes, I'm convinced that it is a staple everybody should have.
Coconut Oil Benefits:
- Pure fat (so there's no water in it)
- High flash point, so it's great for frying
- Good substitute for butter and shortening
- Vegan friendly
- Numerous health benefits
- Most coconut oils are minimally processed
- Comparable price to other high-quality oils
Coconut Oil Properties:
Flavor: Coconut oil gives food a creamy, rich quality without aftertaste or mouth-coating residue that you get from shortening and cheap oils.
Qualities: Soft, opaque white, and solid at room temperature. Clear liquid when it is in a warm kitchen. Refined oil has no aroma but unrefined (aka virgin) smells strongly of coconut.
Purity: Nearly 100% pure fat.
Uses: Frying and baking. People who follow a raw, vegan, or dairy-free diet frequently use coconut oil instead of butter.
Advantages: Coconut oil is generally GMO free, unlike soy, corn, and canola oils. Coconut oil is usually processed to preserve nutritional qualities. It is gluten free, and its high flash point means it's perfect for deep frying.
Primary Nutritional Qualities: Coconut oil contains healthy plant-based saturated fats, which tell your brain that your hunger is satisfied. Three types of saturated fats exist; coconut oil is primarily short- and medium-chain fatty acids, which the body immediately converts to energy. These saturated fats tend not to build up in arteries, unlike animal-based saturated fats.
Secondary Nutritional Qualities: Coconut oil helps the body absorb vital minerals such as calcium and magnesium. There is evidence that it boosts metabolism and assists with blood sugar regulation. Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties. Finally, coconut oil is a no-brainer for skin and hair — I've tested this personally and can vouch for coconut oil's beauty benefits.
Refined vs. Unrefined:
- Refined oils are prettier and have neutral flavor. Refined oils can be consumed right out of the jar. Be sure to check nutrition labels for trans fats, which can happen during the refining process. Avoid trans fats as a rule.
- Unrefined oils are more flavorful and colorful, and sometimes hard to find. If you live in the city, it's easy enough to find it, but outside the city, it's a different story. Unrefined coconut oil is ideal for raw diets, though some experts caution against eating it without heating it to 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill rogue pathogens. Low-quality unrefined oils may have dust or debris mixed in, so choose carefully.
I'm not a food scientist, but I can see are many reasons to love coconut oil. I use it in place of shortening for baked goods and cake icing, and we love it for pan-frying or deep-frying. I prefer refined oil because I find that virgin coconut oil has too strong of a taste, and it spoils before I can use it all.
Get the ULTIMATE cookbook for two!
Compatible with any device, our interactive cookbook for two includes nearly 300 recipes from the show and is organized into 70+ menus that are scaled down for two. Each recipe links to the original episode so you can watch and learn | Learn more >