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Cooking with Coconut Oil

Updated on March 11, 2012

Delicious and Nutritious

Isn't Coconut Oil a Saturated Fat?

First, let me put you at ease. Coconut Oil is not the bane of your health, that you might think. For the last 20 years, we have been told that coconut oil was one of the "bad" fats, a saturated fat responsible for high cholesterol and heart disease. But recent studies have shown that not all saturated fats are the same. Some are long chain and contribute to small dense cholesterol particles and others are medium chain and help to build larger less dense cholesterol that does not stick to our arteries. In fact, medium chain triglycerides, such as the 12 carbon Lauric acid in Coconut Oil, are actually very beneficial to our health.

Coconut Oil Health Benefits

Lauric Acid, in particular, benefits our immune system. It is a precursor to MonoLaurin, which causes the breakdown of the lipid coating of viruses, bacteria, fungus, and parasites in humans and animals. In this way, it is a natural antimicrobial and is currently being studied as a possible treatment for HIV/AIDS.

MCT oils have other benefits. They act on the thyroid to increase metabolic heat, increasing metabolism and fat burning. Coconut oil has great emollient properties (meaning it holds particles in suspension in a liquid), smells great, and is a wonderful moisturizer.

Coconut oil can be taken as a supplement by the Tablespoon. I have also seen it in capsules, which may be preferable for those who want it only as a supplement. From a health standpoint, it is vegan and non-GMO. The dosage for improving immunity is 3 Tbsp coconut oil per day. You can also get benefits from eating dried or fresh coconut or coconut milk. 10 grams of dried coconut or 6 oz of coconut milk will provide an equivelent amount of lauric acid.

Cooking with Coconut Oil

In cooking, there are many ways to use coconut oil. Depending on the kind of coconut oil you use, it may have a strong coconut flavor and smell. Cold pressed virgin coconut oil or expeller pressed does not taste or smell as strong, so you may prefer it.

It is wonderful added to soups, stir frys, as a baste for meats. You can use it in baking for brownies, cookies, muffins, and cakes. It is also delicious in shakes. Here are some recipes to enjoy.

Coconut-Date Shake

14 oz Coconut Milk

3 TBSP Coconut Oil

1/4 cup date pieces

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups ice

Blend all together until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Tropical Fruit Shake

3 TBSP coconut oil

2 TBSP honey

1 ripe banana

1 cup pineapple

1 cup coconut milk

Blend all together until smooth. Pour over ice.

Curried Pumpkin Soup

3 TBSP coconut oil

1 TBSP curry powder

2 tsp fresh grated ginger

½ tsp red chili powder

2 tsp crushed garlic

2 cups low sodium vegetable stock

28 oz pumpkin puree

14 oz coconut milk

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, trimmed

Heat the coconut oil until melted. Add curry powder, ginger, and chili powder. Cook in hot oil for 2 minutes, stirring. Reduce heat, add garlic and stir, being very careful not to brown the garlic. Add the stock and pumpkin. Let simmer for about 10 minutes to meld flavors. Add the coconut milk and heat through. Serve hot. Garnish generously with cilantro.

Coconut Banana Muffins

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 cup coconut oil

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup flaked coconut

1/4 cup flaked coconut for garnishing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line muffin tins.

Mix flours and baking powder in a small bowl.

Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl with a beater until well combined. Fold flour mixture into wet ingredients until just moistened, taking care not to overmix. Scoop 1/3 cup batter into each muffin tin. Sprinkle top with coconut.

Bake 25-30 minutes until nicely browned. Muffins are done when inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes.


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