Home > Uncategorized > You Put the Lime in the Coconut

You Put the Lime in the Coconut

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Heading down the road of Paleo eating or just clean eating, you’ve heard coconut oil mentioned probably as much or more than olive oil . Before I ‘knew better’ (listening rather than researching), I’d always associated coconut oil with the dreaded movie theater popcorn that was bound to take years off your life and give you a heart attack when you least expected it!

After buying a jar, was surprised to find it solid so had to do a little more research. It turns out to have a whole lot of very interesting properties and uses besides cooking as well. Here are some reasons to keep coconut oil around and did you know that coconut oil is:

Anti-bacterial (kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum diseases, and other bacterial infections)

Anti-carcinogenic (coconut oil has antimicrobial properties so it’s been claimed effectively prevents the spread of cancer cells and enhances the immune system)

Anti-fungal (kills fungi and yeast that lead to infection)

Anti-inflammatory (appears to have a direct effect in suppressing inflammation and repairing tissue, and it may also contribute by inhibiting harmful intestinal microorganisms that cause chronic inflammation.)

Anti-microbial/Infection Fighting (the medium-chain fatty acids and monoglycerides found in coconut oil are the same as those in human mother’s milk, and they have extraordinary antimicrobial properties. By disrupting the lipid structures of microbes, they inactivate them. About half of coconut oil consists of lauric acid. Lauric acid, its metabolite monolaurin and other fatty acids in coconut oil are known to protect against infection from bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi and parasites. While not having any negative effect on beneficial gut bacteria, coconut oil inactivates undesirable microbes.)

An Antioxidant (protects against free-radical formation and damage)

Anti-parasitic (fights to rid the body of tapeworms, lice and other parasites)

Anti-protozoa (kills giardia, a common protozoan infection of the gut)

Anti-retroviral

Anti-viral

Infection fighting

Has no harmful for discomforting side effects

Known to improve nutrient absorption (easily digestible; makes vitamins and minerals more available to the body)

Nontoxic to humans and animals

….

If you’re looking to purchase coconut oil, there’s a number of different products, all with different tastes. From the Whole Natural Life page, I learned the difference between virgin & refined and now have both in the kitchen, depending on what I’m making.

Virgin vs. Refined Coconut Oil

There are two different types of coconut oil: virgin coconut oil and refined coconut oil.

  1. Refined coconut oil has been processed so that it’s tasteless and odorless, while virgin (or unrefined) coconut oil still tastes and smells like coconut.
  2. Virgin coconut oil has slightly more health benefits than refined coconut oil, but refined coconut oil is still very good for you as long as you buy a good-quality, expeller-pressed variety.

Choosing Between Virgin and Unrefined Coconut Oil

I keep both virgin coconut oil and refined coconut oil stocked in my kitchen. I decide between the two oils for a particular application based on a few factors:

  • Taste: This is the number one factor I consider. Depending on the dish, virgin coconut oil can impart a noticeable coconut taste to your cooking and baking. In some instances, this flavor is a welcome addition, but in others it can be offensive or overpowering. If you don’t think a coconut flavor is a good match for whatever you’re making, opt for refined coconut oil.
  • Price: Depending on your source for coconut oils, you may find that you can buy one version more inexpensively than the other. Right now, for instance, I pay less for virgin coconut oil than I do for refined coconut oil. In instances where I don’t mind a coconut flavor, I will opt for virgin coconut oil because it’s slightly less expensive. If you can get a better price on refined coconut oil, you may make the opposite decision, perhaps deciding to save your virgin coconut oil for particular applications in which you can really appreciate the flavor.
  • Health Benefits: The final factor to consider is that virgin coconut oil offers more health benefits than refined coconut oil. Even if you can purchase refined coconut oil more inexpensively, you may choose to deliberately include a portion of virgin coconut oil in your diet just for the health benefits.

Baking with Coconut Oil

Coconut oil can be used to replace most oils in baking. For sweet recipes like muffins, fruit crisps, cupcakes, and so on, I like to use virgin coconut oil to replace the original oil in the recipe. Virgin coconut oil has a slightly sweet taste so I think it pairs perfectly with fruit, chocolate, or any other sweet flavors. These days, we’re so accustomed to eating a ton of coconut that most of the time we can’t even taste the coconut oil, but even back when I was first starting out I don’t remember finding the coconut taste particularly noticeable or offensive. If you think you might be sensitive to it, though, you might want to start out just replacing a portion of the original oil with coconut oil.

I don’t typically use coconut oil in savory baked goods, although that may mostly be because I just don’t tend to make a lot of those recipes. I think refined coconut oil would work well in most of these recipes, unless you think you’ll miss the flavor of the original oil.

Cooking with Coconut Oil

Refined coconut oil makes a wonderful all-purpose cooking oil. I keep a bucket of refined coconut oil next to our stove, which we use it for eggs, vegetables, meats, and any other cooked dishes that we don’t want to taste like coconut.

I use virgin coconut oil for sweeter cooking, like when we’re making butternut squash fries, sautéed apples, or pancakes. As I mentioned earlier, I think the coconut flavor goes really well with these types of flavors.

There are more uses for coconut oil than I could put in this post, so here are a few links to other ways to use coconut oil and some of it’s benefits.

  1. 50 uses for Coconut oil
  2. 80 uses for Coconut oil
  3. Comparison of Olive Oil vs. Coconut oil
  4. Coconut oil benefits

Give it a try & see what you think … and if you find the taste isn’t for you, you can use the remainder in so many different ways!

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