Incorporating Coconut Oil into Your Daily Life

Today I wanted to share how I have slowly been able to incorporate traditional coconut oil into my cooking.

What type of coconut oil should I buy?

Let me explain the difference between mass produced “copra” coconut oil and extra virgin coconut oil. Copra is the type of coconut oil you want to avoid. It won’t say “copra” but may be called refined or, just plain, “coconut oil”. The coconuts used to make this oil has been smoke, sun or kiln dried. Since they do this in an unsanitary way, it must be purified, bleached, and deodorized. To make matters worse, they also will sometimes partially hydrogenate coconut oil to keep it solid at higher temperatures. Avoid this coconut oil.

What you want to buy is either extra virgin coconut oil that is produced by a quick, sanitary partial drying, and then pressed mechanically, a wet milled coconut that is not dried at all, or a fermented coconut oil that uses gravity and a traditional method of extracting coconut oil. These methods retain a subtle and delicious coconut taste.

But, if you don’t yet enjoy that coconut taste, you can actually buy a high quality refined coconut oil. It still contains all of the medium chain fatty acids that are so good for you.

Which Coconut oil should I get?

When I first started using a lot of coconut oil, I was not used to that slight coconut taste. So we did actually buy a gallon of the expeller pressed coconut oil. If you are going to be heating up the oil anyway, there isn’t much difference between that and the virgin coconut oil. It has a neutral (really kind of bland) flavor.

In the end, I decided I actually like the coconut taste of extra virgin (after I gave myself some time to get used to it). It adds a sweetness to baked goods that I really love, and I just plain like it!

I would recommend, if you haven’t had coconut oil at all before, that you start by buying a small jar to experiment with. Then, as you get used to it’s flavor, and adjust to it, you can consider buying a large quantity online. If you really don’t like the flavor of the coconut oil, then buy an expeller pressed coconut oil. It’s also good to know that coconut oil has a long shelf life. Many coconut oil connesours, say that they tried many brands before they came across their favorite.

Adding it into our cooking

Thai and Indian Food

Many people really, really into coconut oil, use it as their oil of choice in just about any dish. I find that my gourmet side doesn’t like coconut oil in my Italian pasta sauces. But it does wonderfully in curries, and other Indian food or Thai Food. It really adds to the flavor. Use coconut oil in these types of dishes freely.

Baked Goods

I have also found that coconut oil goes wonderfully in baked goods. When I first heard of people adding coconut oil to muffins and such, I was not to impressed with the idea. I have since become a convert. My friend gave me a muffin with no sweetener and a fair amount of extra virgin coconut oil in it. It was so good and had a nice subtle sweetness to it. I have used it in muffin recipes, cobblers, pancakes, and other baked good recipes. Now that my palate has adjusted to coconut oil, it doesn’t taste “coconutty’ to me, but just sweet. But I should note that others will sometimes comment, ‘Yum…. this is good. Does it have coconut oil in it?”. So I know that others do taste that coconut flavor.

Desserts

Another way to add the benefits of coconut into your diet is to make desserts out of coconut milk. There are so many ways you can do this. You can make ice cream (like Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream), Chocolate Pudding, and I even made a bread pudding using coconut milk instead of regular milk. There are many traditional Thai desserts using cococnut milk as well.

Beverages

You can also add the oil to beverages. You can add it to smoothies, other blended drinks, and to hot tea. These is a very easy way to get more coconut oil in your diet. Just beware that since coconut oil does get your metabolism going, you may get hungry after having a cup of tea with coconut oil in it. We also use the coconut milk tonic to make a wide variety of beverages, like egg nog and hot chocolate. I find that coconut milk, or coconut milk tonic is very nice added to hot or iced teas as well.

Oil blend

Mary Enig recommends that you melt a cup of coconut oil over low heat, and combine it with a cup of seseame oil, and a cup of olive oil. You can use this in many recipes. It gives you the benefits of coconut oil without being to ooverwhelming in flavor. I have even used it in salad dressings.

In Soups and Bean dishes

I have been recently trying some Indian flavored lentil or bean dishes that have coconut milk in them. They are delicious! I will be sharing some of those with you soon, but be aware that there are many delicious recipes out there. There are also some wonderful soups that contain coconut milk as well.

In “Candy”

Coconut oil makes delicious homemade chocolate and other “candy”. I am going to be experimenting more soon, but I have been making my own homemade “Mounds” candy bar for quite a while. We love it and it only has a small amount of honey in it! Look for that recipe coming up soon.

Finally, don’t forget that you can also use it as a moisturizer for your skin.

So there are some of the ways that work for me and my family.

But I am sure that there are many ways I haven’t even heard or thought of before. Does anyone want to share their favorite ways?

Update: I realized that I only had this warning in my post about using coconut oil for weight loss, but not here. Do very aware that coconut oil has been known to cause someone to start detoxing (a natural process the body undergoes to get rid of toxins). This could make some feel tired, flu like, or have other symptoms. I recommend that you slowly add coconut oil into your diet, unless you want to detox, to avoid this. It is powerful stuff, after all!

KimiHarris

I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

Comments

  1. Donna says

    Got a question:
    When using it in muffins and baked goods, how do you mix it? It seems to solidify on me and therefore will not mix in well.
    What am I doing wrong?

    • Charity says

      To substitute for vegetable oil, use the amount of oil called for in the recipe, melt the coconut oil and be sure that the other ingredients (eggs, liquids, etc.) are at room temperature or at least warm enough so that they do not cool the coconut oil enough to make it solidify.

  2. AmyK says

    These are some great ideas. Hubby and I use it to make popcorn instead of regular popping oil; it gives it a nice flavor.
    We originally bought it for *ahem* non-kitchen purposes, though…

  3. Kimi Harris says

    Donna,
    To start with, I usually will melt the coconut oil before adding it. Then, when I am “soaking” things, I do notice, if the room is cold, it can get a little hard again, but seems to loosen up as I mix other ingredients in. It all has to do with temperature. If your room is below 77-76 degrees, it will start to solidify. To prevent that, melt it, or keep it warmer.
    Some recipes, you actually want it to act more like butter (like in scone making). In that case, you should keep it cool.

    amyK,
    I forgot to add that in! We use it with popcorn all the time as well! Maybe I need to add that in now. :-)

  4. Alison @ Wholesome Goodness says

    I must admit that I loved the flavor of coconut oil from day 1. I do still use olive oil in my Italian dishes, though. I just try to cook over medium to medium-low heat when using olive oil.

    Another way to use coconut oil on a (near) daily basis is as a replacement for KY-type…stuff. With all of its antifungal and antibacterial qualities, nothing could be better. (Kill this comment if you think this is inappropriate. I’ll understand.)

  5. The FD says

    Hi Kimi,
    I recently read NT and was floored, and I am planning to read "Nutrition & Physical Degeneration" soon. I really enjoyed your posts about coconut oil, in fact I am going to use it as my research topic in my clinical nutrition class. Have a great evening!
    ~The Fat Dietitian~

  6. Kimi Harris says

    Alison,
    I think that some people do love it from day one. I guess that I just had to “grow’ to like it, and now I love it!

    As far as the “other” way you can use it, I think that you and AmyK both agree to it’s use there. ;-)

    The Fd,

    Nourishing Traditions often has that effect on people. ;-) So glad that you enjoyed my posts on coconut oil. It is an interesting topic, isn’t it!

  7. Melissa says

    I’m so glad you posted about this because we need to get the word out! Ever since I began using it, my under-active thyroid has leveled out some. Very encouraging. We use it to bake our bread, in place of oil, in our homemade granola, and in place of butter on our toast! Great stuff!

    Blessings!

  8. Lori says

    Thanks for the additional info. Most recently during a trip to Ireland I had sweet potato and coconut soup and it was delicious. I’ve tried to recreate it by adding a little coconut milk to a soup recipe I already had. Worked out well.

    • says

      I HAVE EVEN DISOLVED IT IN HOT COFFEE….A LITTLE “GREASY” ON TOP, BUT TOLERABLE! IT’S ALSO GOOD TO USE ON SKIN, EVEN INCISIONS AFTER A COUPLE WEEKS, AS THEY HEAL..

  9. Anonymous says

    You talk about the good health benefits of coconut oil, but is it same with coconut MILK? I’ve been avoiding coconut oil and milk because I am trying to maintain my husband’s cholesterol and blood pressure. I use to use canola oil for baking, but not as of yesterday. I threw it out. I did not know canola oil is highly-refined industrial oil. Can you collaborate on coconut milk?

    • Charity says

      The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.

  10. Kimi Harris says

    Anonymous,

    I include coconut milk as having some of the benefits of coconut oil because a high quality coconut milk actually has a high amount of the oil in it. It does have other beneficial elements to it as well. As far as cholesterol and blood pressure, I would offer you a few resources for further study.

    Check this page out http://www.coconutoil.com/mary_enig.htm, which has articles by Mary Enig that directly talk about coconut products and cholesterol and the whole saturated fat issue.

    The book Real Food (check out my amazon store for more info)goes into the cholesterol issue very thoroughly. Although I have some differences of opinion, I highly recommend reading it.

    Nourishing Traditions may have very helpful research for you to consider as well. For example, I just read yesterday this quote,
    “Research has shown that three raw carrots, eaten daily, lower blood cholesterol…”

    I would also search through Westonaprice.org’s article base.

    A few things that family members have told me that you might find helpful.

    My grandparents were told by some friends to actually take coconut oil to lower their blood pressure. They started adding it in as much as they could and have found that it does indeed keep their blood pressure lower. If they go off of it, they tell me that their blood pressure goes up again.

    My sister is a nurse who has worked with elderly people who often have high blood pressure. She would advise them to eat one celery stick every day. While this doesn’t have quick results, if done consistently, it will slowly lower blood pressure and keep it lower.

    Most of all, I encourage you not to take “real food” out of your diet out of fear, but to instead, research about what type of real food would be the most useful for your husband’s needs. :-)

  11. Mary says

    Something my family and I enjoy doing is adding coconut oil to smoothies. But I have found that I do need to melt the coconut oil first and then stream it in slowly with the blender running in order to have the coconut oil emulsify well. Otherwise it gets chunky and gross.

    This is a smoothie recipe I use:

    8 ounces raw milk

    8 ounces kefir

    2 Tbs. raw cream

    2 scoop Pro-Optimal Whey powder

    3 Tbs. Hi-maize Natural Fiber

    2 cups fresh or frozen fruit (I used fresh strawberries)

    2 Tbs. coconut oil (at room temperature)

    Add first 6 ingredients to the blender and process at high speed till well mixed. With blender running, drizzle in coconut oil. Blend for one more minute, then pour over ice and enjoy. Serves 2.

    This is a great way to get coconut oil into one’s diet as you can barely notice it in the smoothie other than a slight, yet pleasant, coconut flavor.

    You can read more about this recipe and where to find the products I use here:

    http://marysnest.typepad.com/marys_nest/smoothies/

    Enjoy!

    Mary

  12. Peter & Becky Bowersox says

    I’ve just recently gotten hooked on coconut oil for cooking. I had purchased a gallon from MRH before, but that was intended to mix with shea for body butter. Anyway, I just went to MRH’s site and was shocked at how drastically the price of the unrefined gallon has jumped! Any idea what’s going on? Has that happened across the board? I know food prices are on the rise, but it’s more than double what I paid a few months ago!

    Becky

    • Rachel says

      What is MRH? It’s driving me crazy that I have no idea what that acronym is for! I feel like I am either missing something obvious or missing out on something good!

      Help!
      R

  13. Kimi Harris says

    Becky,
    Their price has risen pretty drastically. But I suspect that it may not have to do with the food crisis, but rather to do with the fact that they were selling their coconut oil for sooooo cheap that they couldn’t even keep it in stock! Their prices now match other, cheaper priced coconut oi prices.

    It’s too bad though. I certainly enjoyed being able to buy it so cheap. :-( :-)

  14. Anonymous says

    We use solidified coconut oil mixed w/a bit of baking soda and a drop or two of clove oil to brush our teeth. My teeth have never felt so clean! …and I feel better about what I’m putting in my mouth.

  15. Kate says

    It’s funny, what is old is new again. When I was a kid allot of packaged cookies had coconut oil in them. I remember that was at the time that saturated fats were becominga huge hot button. It is something that I really enjoyed as a flavor in the cookies and I remember the cookies tasted “funny” after the coconut oil was changed out for something else (probably hydrogenated something or other). I’m glad that we are coming to our senses and using real foods in our lives again. Thanks for webistes likes yours!

  16. Miriam says

    I just ordered a case of coconut milk from Amazon, and was disappointed to see the ingredients listed differently than listed online. Is “coconut extract and water” as nutritionally beneficial as “coconut milk” ?? Trying to decide if I send the cans back for a different product. I want all the good fats so my husband and I can follow “Eat Fat, Lose Fat.” Any advice?

    • KimiHarris says

      Miriam,

      I don’t know what “coconut extract” means. Does it mean coconut liquid extracted from the coconut meat, or does it mean something else? Can you contact the company, perhaps, and find out what that term means? It could just be another way of saying “coconut milk”, but I couldn’t say for sure.

  17. Routh says

    I just bought some refined coconut oil, but not before reading this entry. It does say on the jar that there is no hydrogenated fat. Should I avoid cooking with it or just return it? I do know where I can buy the extra virgin coconut oil. Thanks. :)

  18. says

    Wee bit late to the posting here, we use coconut oil for many of the purposes listed above (my fav is popcorn!) and thanks to this blog, I am using it in alot more of my baked goods. We also give it to our dogs and sphynx cat, they love it and it is very healthy for them too!
    Your site it awesome, I grind my own grain, and was just learning the benefits of soaking my grains when I found you. I have learned so much, I am so glad you share all of your great ideas!!

  19. Deborah says

    I have a hot air corn popper. I pour a little coconut oil over the popped corn instead of butter, then sprinkle a little sea salt. Everyone who tastes my popcorn for the first time says the same thing, “WOW”… then I have to start on a second batch. It’s also fantastic in banana loaf. …and chocolate cookies!

    • Dennis says

      Hi, Deborah I would like to known where you purchase coconut oil for popcorn. Iwould like to buy from a store instead of the internet. Thank you Dennis

  20. Deborah says

    I have a hot air corn popper. I pour a little coconut oil over the popped corn instead of butter, then sprinkle a little sea salt. Everyone who tastes my popcorn for the first time says the same thing, “WOW”… then I have to start on a second batch. It’s also fantastic in banana loaf. …and chocolate cookies, and on rice!

  21. Holly says

    So I’ve really been interested in starting to incorporate coconut oil into my life. The price was definitely holding me back…I knew my husband would think I was crazy! I finally bought some the other day and started replacing oil in some things. Oh my goodness…I think I stood there for 5 minutes sniffing the stuff and going giddy! I LOVE the smell, taste of coconut. I made homemade chocolate chunks with it and the hint of coconut makes them even more delicious!

    So my question…where does everyone buy it? I’m trying to find the best place/price to buy it.

  22. Judy says

    I am going to make my famous Pineapple Bread and it calls for 1 1/2 cups of oil, if I substitute that with coconut oil do I use the same amount as stated in the recipe?
    Thanks to everyone here for all the good advice/hints on how to incorporate coconut oil into our everyday cooking. I’m a newbe can you tell? Lol

  23. Judy says

    To Holly, I bought mine at the local health food store, if you have a Whole Foods or Henrys near by they probably carry it. Make sure it’s Raw Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. I use it on my hands/body, I have put it on my hair and scalp about an hour before washing it, it comes right out and my scalp feels good. Hope this helps. :)

  24. Elizabeth says

    Hi! I’m a newbie and bought my first container of Coconut oil yesterday. I googled ways to use it and found your site. My container says “Organic” “Vegan” “Extra Virgin” but then it also says “Expeller Pressed”. Did I get the wrong thing? Or is this acceptable? It is semi-solid and smells like Coconut but is easily scoop-able and soft & I dissolved it into my coffee. It was quite good & I don’t actually care for coconut.

    I bought mine at Central Market in their Vitamin section and there were about 10 options to select from.

    Thanks!

  25. Bevy says

    What does coconut – shredded do for baked goods though? :) Thanks and you can write me at bevymorhere{@}gmail.com if you’d like?
    I’ll check back here though to see if you have an answer. Thanks.

  26. Myda says

    I bought some recently and I dont know why but as I was cutting my potatoes ready to cook them up I decided to cook them with coconut oil instead of butter and oh my goodness did they come out delicious! I found your site researching on how I can incorporate into my baked goods. Thanks!

  27. lauren says

    do NOT put this directly to your face it gave me huge flaming painful cystic acne all over my face. all of this happened in the matter of a few hours. i am warning youuuuuuu!

    • Marnie says

      I clean & exfoliate my face every morning and then apply the coconut oil right after. I’ve been doing this for almost a month now and my skin has never looked better. It’s even helped with the scarring I had from previous acne. I also use it on my 2 year old daughter when she gets a diaper rash and any other rash for that matter… it clears it up overnight…doesn’t matter how bad the rash is, by the next morning it’s completely gone. Although it does take a bit longer when her eczema flares up but it does help stop the itchign. My mom has been giving it to her dogs too, one of them gets really bad rashes on his belly and so she’s been using the coconut oil and it cleared it up in a few days. Before they would have to take him to the vet who would then put him on meds and change his diet. Now they just use the coconut oil and all is well. I’m just trying to find ways of incorporating it into my diet, I can’t take it straight and I don’t drink coffee. I have tried the chocolate but it was too bitter and strong for my taste. So it looks like a smoothy is the best way for me. I buy Extra Virgin coconut oil from Vitacost.com, it’s $20.00 for a 54oz container and it lasts me quite a while. But I love this one or the Nutiva. Both are great. I love coconut oil, enough so that I bought two books by Bruce Fife. “The coconut oil miracle” and “Coconut Cures”. I’m currently reading “coconut cures” and it’s a good read so far, very interesting.

    • scooch says

      I use it right after I wash my face twice a day. I suffer from rosacia and I find this really helps clear up my skin. within a week the redness was gone!!! I LOVE it on my whole body!! If you can’t eat a skin product then dont put it on your skin, it absorbs right into your body!!

  28. coco nut says

    I started using coconut oil not to long ago and I am sooo glad I did! I found organic coconut oil nothing added its cold pressed I found it at the vitamin shopee and as of right now they are on sale :) its the vitamin shopee brand buy one get one 50% off ;) hope that helps someone oh and they have it at gnc but it mre expensive and I love the taste of the vitamin shopee’s brand and this is coming from someone who was never a big fan of coconut lol

  29. Paula says

    I started giving my sister coconut oil capsules (she has alzheimers) and she has been doing so much better remembering things. When she had a 4 hour test (dealing with alzheimers patients), the person testing said she could make intelligent decisions without any problems. This was a big improvement.

  30. Natasha says

    I make really good no sugar added bars with coconut oil and its so good, the whole family loves it. I use 1/2-2 cups rolled oats blended in the blender, then I melt 1/2 cup coconut oil with 1/2 cup almond butter and cinnamon with 1 tsp vanilla and one mounded scoop of KAL brand stevia. I mix with the oats and pour onto wax paper and form into a rectangle and top with dark chocolate, put it in the oven until the chocolate is warm enough to spread evenly and then I stick it in the freezer until it sets up. Its so good! You can make all kinds of variations with this bar by adding nuts, shredded coconut, or whatever but it is a really good snack.

  31. Jenny says

    Hi, I am from Sri Lanka, and as you know there are plenty of coconut trees here. We have been fools for a long time. Used only vegetable oils has it was bad for your health. Thats what we heard and never really knew the benefits of coconut oil. My Grandmother had lovely skin and hair. She used coconut oil daily on her hair and we used to cook it as well about 30 years go. There was this one doctor in Sri Lanka who had proved a very long time ago that this was the best thing ever. He had done a research on the farming community and found out that they were using only coconut oil. Can you believe it that they never suffered from hear problems or diabetic etc… so HOORAY to coconut oil.

  32. Lillian Porter says

    My 80+ year old brother-in-law is from the islands and has always insisted on cooking with coconut oil. He stands erect and does not look his age. He used to complain about his stomach when other oils were used. In the reading I have recently done, I learned that it is anti-inflammatory and beneficial for the GI tract. It is also, according to the literature, antibacterial.
    In one of the same articles it was recommended not to heat any seed oils because that will release free radicals. Would sesame seed oils not be in this category?
    We cooked a ratatouille mix on top of the stove the other night. I have never tasted anything better. I have loved butter on my veggies but now, it will be coconut oil from here on. Even fried eggs taste better. The egg taste is not lost but the flavor and texture are enhanced. I have Dr. Bronner’s Magic “All-One” fair trade, organic, fresh-pressed, virgin, whole kernel, unrefined coconut oil.

  33. Julie says

    I read that coconut oil may also help people with autism. My son has autism, and I have been trying to use it as much as I can. Anyone use LouAna coconut oil?

  34. Yvonne says

    I don’t taste a thing when I try it. That’s why I wanted to know how to use it. it tastes like shortening to me and I rarely use that in anything. Without flavor I find it hard to incorporate into my diet, other than to cook with it like any other oil.

  35. Susan says

    Just started to use coconut oil. I take it, it must be melted before measuring? Also, has anyone used it in granola instead of the typical canola oil (never realized how bad that stuff is!!) If you freeze granola wouldn’t coconut oil solidify again. What is your recommendation for the oil?

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