I could write several pages praising the culinary delights and health benefits gained by using virgin coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil is often called a “low-fat fat.” Although coconut oil is a saturated fat, it’s lower in calories than animal fats. It also breaks down to become energy and doesn’t get stored in the body like other fats. It has a pleasant, slightly sweet taste and blends well with a variety of foods. Three to five tablespoons of coconut oil a day are recommended for the best results.
Here are some ways you can easily incorporate coconut oil into your daily diet:
* Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to smoothies, protein powders, or yogurt;
* Add a tablespoon to hot or cold cereal;
* Use coconut oil as a sugar or creamer replacement for either tea or coffee once the beverage is cool enough to drink. Stir often to combine the oil with the liquid.
* Spread some coconut oil on slices of bread, rolls, bagels, or crackers.
* Make compound “butters” and flavored spreads with solid coconut oil. Blend 2 to 3 tablespoons of coconut oil with nut butters, cream cheese, or fruit spreads. Try adding some cinnamon and honey to coconut oil to make a spread.
* Combine liquid coconut oil with herbs and spices to create a healthy dressing for salads.
* Coconut oil is healthy cooking oil, especially for low to medium heat cooking and sautéing as it doesn’t break down easily. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons to your pan and cook eggs, vegetables, rice and grain dishes, potatoes, and meats. Add as a finishing oil to curries, sauces, soups, and stews.
* Use coconut oil in the place of vegetable or olive oil the way I’ve done in my recipe for Power-Packed Baba Ghanoush.
Power-Packed Baba Ghanoush
This savory eggplant purée is flavored with tahini, lemon juice and fresh herbs. Eat it with wedges of whole wheat pita bread for dipping or spoon it over roasted meats and vegetables.
1 large eggplant (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
3 tablespoons sesame tahini
1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons coconut oil, plus 1 tablespoon more for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle eggplant with ½ teaspoon salt. Place eggplant cut-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Prick all over with a fork and bake until soft and collapsed, about 20 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, scoop eggplant pulp into a bowl and discard skin. Add the remaining teaspoon of salt, the tahini, garlic, yogurt, parsley, lemon juice, and the coconut oil. Mash for a chunky texture or purée in a blender (before adding parsley) for a smooth texture.
Garnish with parsley and drizzle with coconut oil. Serve with warm pita bread or crackers.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook.