3 Reasons To Start Cooking With Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil on a Spoon - Cooking with Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has long held a place in my cabinets. Well, bathroom cabinet that is. I’m a huge fan of using the ultra-moisturizing oil as a hair mask (rub it in your washed hair, wrap in a towel and leave it in over night) or as a remedy for cracked wintry skin (ugh!). In a pinch I even use it as a quick, natural deodorant. Recently, however, after taking a cooking class at The Natural Gourmet Institute, I started realizing this incredible oil might just deserve a spot in my kitchen cabinet as well. Here’s why:

1. It offers a slew of health benefits.

Incorporating a little of this mildly sweet, rich oil may go a long way. Research has found that coconut oil can help protect our body against viruses and improve cholesterol (thanks to its lauric acid) numbers. It’s not a magical miracle food (no food is!), but it’s also a great source of medium-chain fatty acids, which might help with calorie burn and fighting belly fat as well. The flavor isn’t overpowering and its versatile enough to make for a delicious and simple bowl of fresh popped popcorn with a little sea salt and cinnamon to a satisfying Broccoli Stir-Fry with Ginger-Avocado Sauce.

2. It’s your morning smoothie’s new best friend.

In addition to being a sautéing and popcorn poppin’ extraordinaire, a dab of coconut oil in your breakfast smoothie is a super fast way to add healthy fats and a flavor boost when you have a time crunch. Not only does infuse your shake with good-for-you-nutrition, but its slight tropical flavor is particularly tasty if you’re making a green smoothie or are low on fruits. Since coconut oil is solid at room temperature, melt it down to liquid form a few minutes before adding it to your smoothie.

3. It’s great for baking.

Even healthy eaters love indulging in some divinely sweet treats every so often. And coconut oil is my go-to when baking up a vegan blizzard. Free from cholesterol (oh wait, all vegan foods are), this alternative to butter (you can also swap it for margarine, shortening and vegetable oil) works great in my Easy Ooey Gooey Gluten Free Brownies or these tantalizing Chocolate Banana Muffins with Chickpea Flour from Vegangela. Coconut oil helps lend baked goods  a unique lightnessthat moist and fluffy texture you love, but since it’s so rich in health properties, don’t feel too bad about slashing the guilt after you indulge in an extra cookie…or two. or ten. Okay, not ten.

When purchasing coconut oil, make sure to look for “virgin” varieties and check to ensure it’s not hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated and contains no trans fats. Carrington Farms makes a great and affordable organic extra virgin coconut oil in the tub or bottle.  Grocery shopping? Whole Foods also has a wonderful organic expeller pressed virgin coconut oil under their 365 line.

Do you use coconut oil?


Featured photo via Thinkstock



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