It’s not often a substance goes through as total an image makeover as coconut oil has done in the past few decades.
It has gone from stone-cold killer public enemy number one of the ’80s and ’90s to the latest miracle cure of whatever ails you or might possibly ail you in the future, as it is claimed to do everything from lower risk of heart disease to preventing osteoporosis.
Lowering the risk of heart disease is not a bad trick for something that is about 90 percent saturated fat. Compare that to butter, which is about 64 percent saturated fat, with beef fat and lard clocking in at about 40 percent. It’s no wonder docs were pushing their patients in the direction of olive oil, at 14 percent, for so many years.
Part of the problem might have been that that old coconut oil was partially hydrogenated, like margarine. But the coconut oil available today is not. There is a bewildering array out there. Filtered, unfiltered, organic, virgin, fair trade, frsh-pressed, white kernel, and various combinations thereof are all available at an ordinary Food Lion. Go to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods and it just gets more complicated.
Part of coconut oil’s current popularity may have something to do with the fact that it hits all the trends du jour; including, but not limited to, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, Paleo, and Whole30.
Ask a random assortment of people if they like and use coconut oil and for what, and you’ll get an array of answers. Answers as simple as using coconut oil to make popcorn, as recommended by Sprigg Parker, all the way to Shontay Gregory who uses it as a makeup remover (a popular use, as it is also supposed to enhance and strengthen lashes, according to Jessica Stone) to Donna Williams who hears it’s good for getting rid of fleas on dogs.
Barry Carlton has had a change of heart about coconut oil. “We thought it was great for our health until we really investigated it but soon went back to virgin olive oil. We have tubs of it from Costco sitting in the closet.” Barry concluded it did have one use, “It is good to fry with using high heat however,” he says.
Barry has a point. The science behind coconut oil, though vast, is a bit thin. Studies that point to a positive result but have not been replicated, verified or peer-reviewed are everywhere. And sifting through which scientific claims have some merit against those which do not is a monumental undertaking.
Especially when you consider that scientific studies of one sort or another have concluded that coconut oil has this laundry list of effects; can help brain disorders, increases weight loss, builds muscle, can help fight infections, helps lose abdominal fat, curbs appetite, increases metabolism, protects hair against damage, anti-dandruff, moisturizes skin, acts as sunscreen, prevents gum disease and tooth decay, protects your kidney and liver, treats kidney and bladder stones, reduces inflammation and arthritis, cancer prevention and treatment, reduce seizures, improves digestion, reduce symptoms of gall bladder disease and pancreatitis, hormone balance, stress relief, anti-aging benefits, supports thyroid functioning, eliminates free radicals damage and helps improve type 1 diabetes.
It would be a rare person indeed who would not benefit from at least a few of those.
It is interesting that the younger generation tends to view coconut oil as more of a beauty product; makeup remover, shaving cream, toothpaste, skin cream, and the like. More mature folks are cooking with it for those health benefits. Bryan Pollard illustrates the generational rift when he says, “That stuff is the bomb. My dad cooks with it, too.”
Terri Flagg walks the line on internal versus external use by stating that the sex therapist on Rock 92 suggests it is useful as a lube. Rock 92 is joined by Gwenneth Paltrow in that opinion but there is some dissent on the interweb with bloggers of lesser starpower warning against this off-label usage. As usual, proceed with caution.
Coconut Oil Rice Krispie Treats
In no possible universe can Rice Krispie Treats be considered health food, but the substitution of half the butter with coconut oil can help you forget all the sugar in the cereal and marshmallows. They also taste better than the plain ones.
4 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. coconut oil
2 bags (10.5 ounces each) miniature marshmallows
12-13 cups Rice Krispies Cereal (depending on how sticky you like it)
Prepare a half sheet baking pan by lining with parchment paper and spraying with nonstick spray. In a large pot, melt butter and coconut oil over medium heat. Add marshmallows and stir constantly until the marshmallows are all melted. Remove from heat and stir in Rice Krispie cereal they are evenly coated with the marshmallow mixture. Pour into half sheet pan and spread into an even layer. Top with sprinkles and allow to cool before cutting.
Often used for intermittent fasting. The high fat content causes a full feeling for many hours.
1 cup of organic coffee, herbal coffee or chai tea
1 tsp. coconut oil (can be up to 2-3 tablespoons)
1 tbsp. organic grass-fed unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. vanilla
a few drops of stevia extract (optional)
Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Mix on high speed for 20 seconds until frothy. Drink immediately and enjoy all the energy.
Peach Yogurt Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. cinnamon
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup + 2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
¼ cup nonfat milk
1½ cup frozen or fresh peaches, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a large muffin pan or spray with baking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk together the eggs, Greek yogurt, coconut oil and milk. Immediately pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients along with the chopped peaches and mix together with a spatula until just combined. Do not overmix. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Bake for 20-23 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes and then gently move to a cooling rack.
Lemon Coconut Crumb Bars
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup coconut oil, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. coconut extract
3/4 cup flaked coconut, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
3/4 cup lemon curd
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream coconut oil and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and coconut extract. Mix well. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the flour mixture. Mix until combined, the dough will be crumbly. Stir in the 3/4 cup coconut. Stir the lemon curd to loosen it up. Gently press half of dough into bottom of prepared baking dish. Evenly spread the lemon curd over dough. Sprinkle remaining dough over the top, making sure you cover the entire bars. Press gently to form the top layer. Sprinkle the additional coconut over the bars. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cool completely and cut into squares.
Simply warm a bit of coconut oil between your palms and brush your hands over your face and eyes. Wipe the oil away with a damp cloth and you’ll be left with clear, clean, fresh skin.
2 tbsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. coconut oil
Mix together 2 parts baking soda and 2 parts cornstarch with one part coconut oil. If you like, you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for fragrance.
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so it’s important to rinse your sink with hot water when you’ve finished brushing your teeth.
To make homemade toothpaste, mix together equal parts coconut oil and baking soda. The baking soda will help keep your teeth white and shiny. Add a few drops of peppermint essential oils for a crisp, minty flavor. A few drops of stevia will add some sweetness, if desired.
Simply rub a generous amount onto your skin and use your regular razor to shave. When shaving legs, you’ll find that your legs are smooth and clean – and you won’t even need to moisturize them.
You can rub coconut oil directly into your skin. While it might feel a bit oily at first, it will all get absorbed. Skin absorbs the oil more quickly when applied after a warm shower, while pores are still open. Coconut oil is a wonderful moisturizer that will help keep your skin hydrated and youthful-looking. You can also combine coconut oil with a few drops of your favorite essential oil and whisk it until it takes on a light, frothy texture. Spoon it into an airtight container.
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Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.