Note: If you get to the bottom of this post, you will find a very yummy recipe!
My friend Marieke Klosse-Beeler has a wonderful company, Pamperosity, all about pampering yourself with all natural products. She asked me to share my knowledge in her blog this week about cooking with, as well as the health benefits of coconut oil. She was also kind enough to plug my blog and The Healthy Delectable Web Series, and announce the latest news, my upcoming Cookbook, that I plan to release on kindle later this Fall!
Check out Pamperosity and Marieke’s post about coconut oil HERE!
Coconut Oil went from being the “bad” oil in the 90’s to being hyped as a “cure-all” today.
So, what’s the truth about Coconut Oil?
According to a WebMD article, “Coconut oil contains an unusual blend of short and medium chain fatty acids, primarily lauric (44% ) and myristic (16.8%) acids. It is this unusual composition that may offer some health benefits.”
What does this mean? Because they are smaller, they’re absorbed intact, as opposed to long-chain fats, that have to be broken down in the small intestine. Smaller and medium-chained fatty acids are delivered directly to the liver to be used for energy.
The other good news is, medium-chain fats don’t store in fat cells to the same extent as long-chain ones. Studies show that medium-chain fats appear to increase calorie burning in the body.
The WebMD article article also states, “Coconut oil, like all saturated fats, should be limited to 7%-10% of calories because it can increase risk for heart disease, according to the AHA and 2010 Dietary Guidelines.”
From my research, coconut oil shouldn’t be replaced with other important oils, such as extra virgin olive oil and grapeseed oils, for our diet, both of which are unsaturated.
Everyone loves a virgin, and according to a 2011 NY Times article, the key to the healthiest variety of coconut oil, is extra virgin. Generally speaking, anything that hasn’t gone through a chemical process is best, and easiest for your body to break down. The “bad fats” are trans fats, which was the proudest of food labels, before gluten free showed up on the market. The lauric acid in coconut oil, (also found in breast milk, by the by) is said to increase levels of good HDL (the good cholesterol). While researchers are skeptical, lauric acid is also said to have possible antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral properties. While there is no scientific evidence to prove it, the natural foods community believes these properties can help weight loss, treat digestive issues, skin problems, and perhaps also viruses, like H.I.V.
As for cooking with coconut oil, it has a wonderful mellow, nutty, slightly sweet flavor, and enhances sautéed and roasted veggies, has a high smoke point, and can withstand hotter temperatures, and makes an excellent substitution for baking with animal fats, such as butter and lard. As I stated in the Pamperosity post, coconut oil lends to an excellent flaky pie crust, makes baked good moist, and makes my favorite latest treat, a magic shell for ice cream sundaes (see recipe below).
It is also an excellent moisturizer for skin and hair.
Whether you air on the side of science, or keep up with the latest in the nutritional world, it seems that coconut oil is definitely good for you, in small amounts.
Homemade Two Ingredient Magic Shell (Recipe adapted, and photo borrowed from Food 52)
This is a simple recipe. All you need is 2 parts oil to 3 parts chocolate. So, for 1 cup of magic shell, you will need:
- 160 grams (about 1 cup) of good quality chocolate chips
- 100 grams of coconut oil
- Pinch of salt (optional)
- Combine chocolate and oil into a microwave safe container. Microwave in 30 second intervals until the chocolate melts. Stir to combine all the flavors. (You can also combine ingredients and melt over low heat in a bowl placed over a pot of simmering water) Allow the mixture to cool slightly, and then pour onto your scoop (or scoops) of ice cream!
Enjoy (in moderation)!!