Why Cook with Coconut Oil?
There are a number of reasons why it is a good idea to use coconut oil to prepare some of your dishes. It is not necessary to use coconut oil in every dish: you can get the benefits of coconut oil by just eating 2 0r 3 meals every week that contain either coconut oil or coconut milk. Of course, if you love the taste of coconut oil there is no harm to be done with increasing the amount of coconut oil you consume. In certain areas of the world people’s diet consist of up to 60% coconut and yet they remain healthy and slim. This website is all about the benefits of coconut oil. It is for these benefits that coconut oil is recommended.
Firstly, it is essential to have fat in your diet. The low fat diet as pioneered in the 1960s by Nathan Pritikin was misguided and unscientific. People find it very hard to live without fat in their diet – it makes them depressed and drains them of energy. It is no accident that Nathan Pritikin eventually succumbed to cancer. He had an irrational dislike of fat that surely did not help his chances of beating cancer. The issue not whether to have fat in your diet or not. The issue is what type of fat you should have in your diet.
There are a number of ways of looking at fat. The traditional (and often misleading) way is to categorize fats as either saturated, polyunsaturated or monounsaturated. The media has been telling people for more than 2 decades that polyunsaturated fats are healthy and saturated fats are unhealthy. This is simply wrong. Polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable, soy, safflower and sunflower go rank in the body in a matter of hours. They contain long chain fatty acids that the body finds it hard to break down. As a result a lot of polyunsaturated fat that is consumed is turned into blood cholesterol. Coconut oil is high in medium chain fatty acids (or medium-chain triglycerides, as they are also called) that are easily absorbed by the body and become energy and not cholesterol. Furthermore, coconut oil like butter does not go rank in the body because it contains antioxidants.
These antioxidants have also shown been shown to stop the action of free radicals in the body that lead to signs of aging such as liver spots and wrinkles (see the beauty section).
Coconut oil in the diet stimulates thyroid gland activity and helps to protect a person from cancer, heart disease and cancer. See the health section for more about this. Because coconut oil is properly absorbed by the body it is good for those who need to watch their weight.
It is also good for increasing energy levels. Coconut oil in the diet increases stamina. Many athletes now include coconut oil in their diets before a big competition.
There are numerous health benefits to including coconut fat in your diet. And it should not be forgotten that coconut oil and coconut milk in food tastes delicious.
What Type of Coconut Oil is Best for Food?
Coconut milk is made by by mixing grated coconut with hot water or milk which extract the oil and aromatic compounds. When left to set coconut cream will rise to the top and can be separated from the milk. By heating the coconut milk virgin coconut oil is extracted. Organic coconut oil is made in the same way. The two terms are virtually interchangeable since nearly all coconut palms grow without the input of chemical fertilizer or pesticide.
Coconut oil is also made from the hairy outside of the coconut, the copra. The copra is often stored in unhygienic conditions and it is necessary to refine the oil. The refining process of this lower quality coconut oil is referred to by the acronym RBD – refined, bleached and deodorized. RBD coconut oil is cheap and is sometimes used in cosmetics. It is not recommended for cooking. You can easily distinguish between virgin coconut oil and RBD coconut oil because the latter has no coconut taste or aroma.
What Can you Cook with Coconut Oil?
There are lots of delicious dishes that use either coconut oil or coconut milk. Perhaps the most famous coconut oil dishes are from Thailand. Thai cuisine is growing in popularity around the world and millions of people know about Thai green curry. There are many other Thai dishes that use coconut oil or coconut milk. Here is a brief list:
- Chicken curry – Gang Gai
- Curried noodles – Goew Tiew Kak
- Noodles with fish curry sauce – Kanom Jeen Nam Ya
- Chicken in coconut soup – Gai Tom Kha
- Beef and bamboo shoot curry – Gang Naw Mai Neuw Sub
- Masaman curry – masaman
- Thai Green Curry – kaeng khiao wan (click the link for recipe)
For an extensive list of Thai dishes check out the excellent www.thaitable.com
Of course it is not just Thai food that uses coconut milk and coconut oil; they are both frequently used in Indian, Sri Lankan, Filipino and Caribbean cuisine. Coconut milk comes in both thick and thin varieties and can be used for soups, curries, desserts and smoothies.
Coconut flour is made from the meat of the coconut that has been dried and processed to remove the fat. It is useful flour that can be used to make a variety of cakes and breads. See our recipe for coconut bread. The important thing about coconut flour is that is 100% gluten free. This is very important for people who are gluten intolerant and who suffer from coeliac or celaic disease. Coconut flour is a great substitute for wheat, rye and barley. It contains minerals such as calcium, selenium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium and vitamins C, E, B1, B6, B3 and B5. Moreover coconut flour is high in dietary fiber and protein. It is possible to add coconut flour to smoothies to make a quick protein drink.
A recommended cookbook full of coconut recipes and tips for using coconut oil and coconut milk in cooking is Coconut Lover’s Cookbook by Bruce Fife.