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 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.