Culinary · Nutrition

My Favorite Fats

Today I’m starting a series of posts on my favorite fat sources- for cooking, health benefits, and taste. The first is coconut oil. Stay tuned for more!

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil

Coconut oil has become very popular over recent years and for good reason. It’s a great multi-purpose fat. With a smoke point of about 350 F degrees, coconut oil stands up to medium-high temperature cooking such as baking and stir-frying. I use it on a daily basis for cooking scrambled eggs, sautéing vegetables, and for adding a nice golden color to roasted chicken. If you’re like me and enjoy the taste of coconut, I recommend using the virgin or unrefined oil. While still relatively neutral, virgin coconut oil will impart a subtle coconut flavor, making it great for Asian-inspired dishes. If you don’t care for such flavor, refined coconut oil has much less of an aroma. This can be a good option for baking. Coconut oil can substitute for butter and makes for a much healthier replacement for vegetable oil or shortening. Use equal amounts of coconut oil for vegetable oil and butter, and reduce to ¾ cup coconut oil for every cup of shortening. When baking with coconut oil, I prefer to add melted coconut oil to room temperature ingredients as to avoid clumps.

Coconut oil is also a great fat source used as-is at room temperature. It makes cinnamon-raisin toast unbelievably good as a spread, and adds to the smoothness of Bulletproof Coffee. I’ll often throw a spoonful of melted coconut oil in a fruit and veggie smoothie for extra flavor and the fat helps increase satiety.

To touch on health and nutrition properties briefly, coconut oil has been touted with a number of health claims. While few studies do show positive benefit on HDL (good) cholesterol, cholesterol ratios, and bacteria-fighting powers, there simply isn’t the research to support coconut oil as having a significant influence on cardiovascular health or disease prevention. This being said, I do chose to use coconut oil because I believe it has a neutral to slightly positive health effects in addition to desirable cooking properties.

Do you use coconut oil? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Photo courtesy of Pseph

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