A couple years ago, I had an expensive jar of coconut oil in my cupboard with barely a tablespoon used. Every time I’d go into that cupboard I was upset that I didn’t know what to do with it. Times have changed and now I always have a jar around. I wanted to high-five Trader Joe’s when they started carrying an organic, reasonably priced coconut oil. You can also find good deals for coconut oil on Amazon.
Why use coconut oil?
I looked to Sarah, Certified Nutritional Practitioner, behind the beautiful blog, My New Roots for the health benefits of coconut oil.
“The Skinny on Coconut Fat
I get a lot of questions about coconut oil, as it is high in fat and people still seem to be terrified of this. To clear things up, coconut oil does contain saturated fat, but lucky for us, it comes in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (or MCTs). This type of fat differs from the types of fat we normally consume from both plant and animal sources, which are long-chain triglycerides (or LCTs). Without getting too technical, MCTs are easily digested, absorbed, and utilized in the body because their molecules are smaller than those from LCTs. This means that unlike other fats, they require less energy and fewer enzymes to break them down for digestion. They are an excellent choice of fat for active people and athletes as MCTs digest immediately to produce energy and stimulate metabolism. They are also ideal for those who suffer from digestive disorders and are often given in hospitals to provide nourishment for critically ill people who have trouble digesting fat.” – Sarah Britton BFA, CNP
Fat and cholesterol have gotten a really bad rap for a good 30 years and yet the introduction of the low-fat diet hasn’t improved the overall health of Americans. A diet of good fats and whole foods is the approach I like to take. Everything in moderation.
Here are 7 ways to use coconut oil and 7 reasons to love it:
#1. Bake with it
Recipe above: Vegan Granola Squares.
Use melted coconut oil instead of butter for added nutritional benefits or for making vegan treats. I’ve noticed it works well in muffins, quick breads and baked goods with rolled oats.
#2. Grease pans easily for baking
A well-buttered pan allows for cakes, breads and muffins to pop right out, but sometimes I like to go easy on the butter in a recipe or to skip it all together. Coconut oil works like a charm! It melts with the warmth of your hand and glides over the pan easily. Your baked goods will pop right out.
#3. Sauté over high-heat
Recipe above: Vegan Hot and Sour Soup with Cabbage and Rice
Try using coconut oil in a recipe where you start with a sauté of aromatics like onions and garlic. Some recipes adapt better than others, but it works particularly nice in Asian recipes, vegetarian/vegan recipes and with seafood, like mussels.
#4. Make delicious homemade popcorn
I use a whirley pop to make popcorn at home and it is fantastic with coconut oil. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil with 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels and stir over medium heat until you have a big pot of fluffy popcorn. I like to drizzle my popcorn with more melted coconut oil and a sprinkle of truffle salt.
#5. Add moisture and shine to your hair
- Get 1/8 to 1/4 cup of coconut oil ready
- Completely wet your hair first thing and rub the coconut oil into your hands to melt and rub into your hair, focusing on the ends. If your hair is long, you can clip it up to keep it out of your face while you shave, soap up, etc.
- At the end of your shower, shampoo your hair well.
- Dry and style normally and admire your shiny hair. This is a particularly great right after color-treating hair.
- WARNING, be careful! The tub gets slippery while you use the coconut oil.
- For a more intense moisture treatment, get your hair very wet, add the coconut oil, clip your hair up and place a shower cap over your hair for a few hours. Shampoo well when you’re ready.
#6. Moisturize your cuticles
I usually get a pedicure a couple of times a year in the spring and summer. I have the nicest nail lady that also does a beautiful job. Every time I visit, she tells me that I could use a little oil on my cuticles to keep them moisturized. I’m finally listening to that advice. I find it’s easiest to do this when you’re ready to relax in the evening before bed. Rub a light layer of coconut oil on the cuticles of your toes and fingers. In the winter, I put fuzzy socks on my feet before bed and in the morning my cuticles look great.
#7. Make a great sugar scrub
Recipe above: Lavender Coconut Sugar Scrub
Coconut oil is ultra-moisturizing and after too many winters with cracked hands, I decided to finally make my own sugar scrub with coconut oil. I gave a bunch of these little jars to my favorite girls and they loved it. It’s all-natural, moisturizing and smells fantastic.