In attempt to add more healthful ingredients to our diet this year, including healthy fats, I have found a new friend in coconut oil, with all of its benefits. It has high lauric acid content, one of the really healthy components of human breast milk. Coconut oil aids in digestion and is a quick, natural energy source. It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, aiding the immune system.
It is solid at room temperature, making it an easy substitute in recipes that call for butter or shortening. I melt it on the stove to use in recipes calling for unhealthy vegetable oils. Adding a couple tablespoons to a smoothie makes for a much more filling breakfast. Coconut oil holds up well at high temperatures, making it great for sauteing and frying.
As a side: Coconut oil is 90% saturated fat, which is why it gets such a bad rap these days. I don't really want this post to turn into a debate on saturated fats, so if you're convinced they're bad, check out this link and click around the website some. Let's just say that in our kitchen, you won't find anything low fat. We drink cream-on-the-top whole milk, eat whole milk yogurt, real butter, and full-fat cheese, and don't feel the slightest bit guilty.
In addition to being great in the kitchen, coconut oil is also wonderful for your skin and hair. While I haven't used it much for these purposes, it is something I am beginning to look into and may begin in the near future. Katie's pediatrician in Florida recommended it as an an alternative to chemical-laden diaper rash cream.
You can probably find unrefined coconut oil at your grocery store or health food store. However, buying it online is probably more affordable. I was recently given a 32 oz. jar of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions to review and have found it to be of excellent quality. It has a pleasant, but not overpowering, coconut flavor and I love using it in recipes, knowing all the wonderful benefits it has for my little family. They often have great sales and occasionally offer free shipping, making for a better deal.
Mountain Rose Herbs also sells 1 gallon of virgin unrefined coconut oil at a very reasonable price.
Have you tried coconut oil in your home? What's your favorite use?
For more information:
::Donielle has a very extensive post.
::Katie has a great post as well.
::Tropical Traditions has a Coconut Oil FAQ page you may find helpful.