Why we are nuts about coconut
What is coconut oil?
If any of you know me well, you will know that I am pretty obsessed with this humble oil. As I write this, I am super excited to be letting you in on a 5000 year old secret that in some cultures is known as ‘the tree of life’ or ‘the tree of a thousand uses’. In our household, this oil is easily the most diverse food we consume and apply to our skin on a daily basis. So much so, I have taken to keeping a jar of coconut oil in the bathroom as my go to moisturiser.
I discovered this little gem of a food about 4 years ago, with the help of a Naturopath and close friends Chris and Nicky Jones of Primal Movement. At the time, I made a choice to seriously clean up my diet in an effort to overcome serious allergies. I drew from the principles behind paleo and primal living, which quickly led me to coconut oil.
Why is it important to incorporate in our diet?
Coconut oil is a healthy saturated fat, with the bulk of the good stuff coming from lauric acid, a medium chain saturated fatty acid; it is also incredibly heat-stable.
Coconut oil has been reported to have a number of health benefits; from aiding in weight loss, to supporting immune and thyroid function. Recent studies have also found coconut oil to have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties, which make it an effective agent for the treatment of Candida species and ensuring good gut health.
In a recent interview, legendary Sydney Naturopath Anthia Koullouros and Melissa Ambrosini discuss the importance of essential fats in our diet. Anthia comments that “the fastest way to age a women is to not have any fats…reproductively and nutritionally which comes through our hair, skin and nails”. Coconut oil is just one of these essential fats. The source of good for you dietary fats is essential, so always opt for organic virgin coconut oil (expeller pressed and cold pressed) where possible.
What forms does it come in?
Cream, butter, oil, flakes, chips and milk
How can we cook with it?
Baking – There is nothing more pleasing to the palette than the combination of coconut and raw cocao (another obsession of mine!). Coconut oil is a perfect substitute for butter or alternative to other oils. My absolute favourite is coconut oil in chocolate brownies or raw fudge. Coconut flour is another gluten free, hi-fibre, wheat flour substitute I regularly use in pancakes, cakes, muffins and biscuits.
Roasting – Coconut oil is amazing for roasting or lightly frying Kumera chips because it is less sensitive to heat than other oils (won’t oxidize as easily). My favourite recipe comes from the ladies at Primal Junction for salty spiced sweet potato chips.
Smoothies and coffee – Coconut milk and cream are both fantastic alternatives to dairy. I will regularly add it to my morning smoothie or if heading out for a workout, a teaspoon in my coffee is a great way to give it a little energy boost. Coconut water is also a perfect addition to your morning green smoothie as both a natural sweetener and electrolyte replacement post exercise.
Curries and stir fries – In particular, coconut cream in a Thai Green Curry or Lamb Massaman Curries
Raw – last but not least, a high quality, buttery coconut oil can be consumed quite simply in its raw form.
A few of my favourite brands of coconut products include:
Sources and links: