Coconut Oil is a made from the meat of coconuts. While high in saturated fat, many natural health professionals advise that the main type of saturated fat in coconut oil promotes the formation of healthy cholesterol (HDL). In fact, many in the real food community recommend coconut oil as the smartest oil you can use in cooking. Many domestic chefs are still unfamiliar with this healthy fat and are unsure how to use it. We’ve discussed previously how well coconut oil can be incorporated into your baked goods. Can coconut oil also be easily substituted for other fats when cooking?
- Better for You – Coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats available
- Versatile – can be substituted for almost any other fat in a recipe
- Mild flavor – coconut oil can vary from flavorless to having a slightly sweet and nutty flavor depending on how it’s produced.
- Can be expensive – especially for the highest quality versions
- Solid at room temperature, which can be inconvenient depending on the recipe
It wasn’t long ago that coconut oil registered on my food radar. Growing up in the midwest, I’m not sure I had ever even heard of it. But as I started following along with the “crunchy mom” blogs, everyone everywhere kept going on about coconut oil. It turns out, that coconut oil is a super healthy fat that can be used in baking, cooking and personal care.
After I got used to baking with coconut oil, I decided to move onto cooking with it (You know the difference between cooking and baking, right?). You can use coconut oil in pretty much any recipe that includes a fat. I’ve had great success sautéing vegetables, frying chicken, toasting breads and grains, and we love making old-fashioned popcorn with it.
In every case that I’ve tried it, coconut oil has worked GREAT in cooking! If you pay attention, sometimes there can be a light flavor of coconut. But I’ve snuck it into many dishes without my husband and family noticing.
Coconut oil is becoming easy to find – but you should be aware that there are many different methods of coconut oil manufacture, and lots of grades of oil out there. You can get oil that is refined, unrefined, virgin, raw, expeller pressed, centrifuged, and the list goes on. Certainly some method of manufacture are less healthy than others (hexane extraction, anyone?). So do your homework and read your labels, just as you would with any major cooking ingredient. One of my favorite real food blogs, Food Renegade, has a great article on how to choose a good coconut here.
And here’s one of my favorites: Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil available on Amazon (affiliate link)
Have you tried coconut oil for cooking or frying? What’s your favorite dish that you’ve used it in?