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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!