I am taking a break from the food photos today just for something different. So, I thought I would talk a little about coconut oil. I do get emails about it and some comments, because you all know that I do cook with it on a regular basis.
First off, my feelings on fat are that it isn’t bad and you do need it in your diet. Fat keeps you full and is necessary for the absorption of certain vitamins. It’s also good for your skin. That’s why the only real fat free food I eat is Greek yogurt. We drink 1% milk and not skim. I only get skim milk when I am having a latte out since it is usually whole or skim as a choice, and I do try to save some calories there.
Anyhoo – coconut oil was vilified as a saturated fat thanks to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which lumped coconut oil into the hydrogenated fat arena (and vilified chinese food as well, if you remember).
Coconut oil is a tropical oil; however it is a medium-chain fatty acid. This means that the body actually will use this oil more efficiently and quickly. Coconut oil is not a hydrogenated oil (or shouldn’t be if it isn’t blended with something like in Coffeemate), and therefore is not a trans fat. There are a couple different types of coconut oil. There is 76 degree, which (obviously) melts at 76 degrees F and has no smell (made from dried coconut). The other is virgin coconut oil, which has a melting point of 92 degrees and is very fragrant of coconut (made from fresh coconut). This is the one I use for cooking.
I like cooking with coconut oil much better than liquid vegetable oils. It is lighter (if that makes any sense) and does not coat the food like liquid oils do, and has a very light taste. It has a high smoke point, so it won’t burn easily. There is a bit of coconut flavor in the oil, although not as much as the scent would indicate. I actually really like it with vegetables. John loves to fry with it.
Interesting research is also coming out that medium-chain fatty acids may be beneficial in protecting our digestive system against bad microbes. Not really sure how much you have to eat to get those benefits, however!
Now, I don’t really buy into the hype that coconut oil is the be all/ end all of fats that you read. Some people are so gung-ho on it (which is always a red flag to me). In my reading, I have come to the conclusion that it isn’t evil, it tastes good, might have some possible benefits, and in moderation is perfectly fine. I don’t know as a teaspoon or 2 of coconut oil is going to have any magical effect on me 😛 , but it won’t hurt.
You can find coconut oil in most larger stores that have a natural foods section, but you really will find your best price online. Coconut oil is actually not very expensive per pound if you shop carefully.