If you’ve been looking into real food, natural living, DIY beauty products—or for that matter even just walked down the baking aisle at the grocery store lately—for any length of time at all, then you’ve without a doubt run up across this crazy little thing we call the oil of the coconut.
That’s right. Coconut oil has truly become the latest trend—and for good reason, too. I don’t mean to be all predictable or fall desperately into any sort of “organic guru stereotype”, but I’d be lying through my teeth—er, I mean keyboard—if I told you I didn’t absolutely love the stuff. In all honesty, coconut oil really is the answer for EV. RY. THING!
Did you know that right now when you type in the word uses on Google, uses for coconut oil is the first suggestion that pops up? Seriously, more Google searchers are looking for things to do with coconut oil right now than with anything else! I don’t know about you—maybe I’m just a weirdo—but that excites me!
There really is no limit to all that coconut oil can do. If you proceed to actually search the phrase uses for coconut oil on Google, you’ll be greeted with article upon article boasting of 100+ ways to use the stuff. This list is by no means an attempt to compete with any of them—on the contrary, it’s just a simple compilation of a few ways I enjoy putting coconut oil to work for me. There are TONS more cool and creative things you can do with it, and everyone has their own favorites, but these are mine because I’ve not found any other ingredient/product that rivals how well coconut oil works for these seven things. If you’ve never tried any of them hopefully after reading this you’ll be inspired to do so in the near future!
1- Greasing Pans for Baking
I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have coconut oil for greasing my pans when I bake (which I do a LOT). Actually, scratch that—I do know. I freak out, that’s what I do. Usually it goes something like this:
Me: *pulls a pan from the cabinet; reaches for jar of coconut oil; finds that it’s not there*
*begins to rummage through cabinet fitfully; still doesn’t find it*
“MOOO-OOOM! Where’s the coconut oil?!”
My mom: “We’re out of it, honey….”
Me: “What?? No, we’ve got to have some more here somewhere!”
Mom: “We don’t. I used the last of it this morning.”
Me: *proceeds to perform a complete cabinet overhaul; still finds no coconut oil*
*sinks to the floor and sobs*
“I hate my life….”
Okay, so I’ve never actually sunk to the floor and sobbed because we were out of coconut oil (I’ve wanted to on occasion). But the rest of the story—totally legit. 😉
When the mainstream option supposedly doubles as a soap scum remover and likely contains propane (as many cooking sprays do), I’ll happily choose the less popular one. And in case any of you were wondering, using coconut oil for greasing your pans does NOT require you to flour them too. Just a simple swipe with an oiled basting brush will suffice—and the baked goods will come out cleanly every time!
Thankfully it’s finally becoming no secret that refined oils are terribly unhealthy for us. And while butter does produce lovely baked goods, it doesn’t go very far once it’s been melted down—and having to use a whole stick of butter or more every time I want to bake something can get expensive. I love that coconut oil can be subbed for both oils like vegetable and canola (yuck!) and for butter one-for-one with no problem at all! I’m not sure why this is, but coconut oil actually goes farther once it’s been melted. And even though I don’t usually melt it before adding it to recipes unless it has really solidified, when I do, that makes it wonderful to work with because I can actually add less! Also, in the baking regard, I love that coconut oil is vegan. I think butter is awesome, and I’m definitely not a proponent that it’s bad for us (as the media would lead us to believe) but it is a dairy product, and like it or not, animal products are harder on our digestive systems than vegetable products are. There’s nothing wrong with dairy or animal products, but I feel that if I’m going to indulge in a muffin, cookie, or other treat containing sugar and perhaps grains as well, it might not be the most unkind thing to do for my body to lighten the load. Since it takes four hours for our bodies to digest cow’s milk (and therefore butter) yet coconut oil is so gentle on our systems that it actually goes right into our bloodstream without needing any assistance from our digestive system’s bile salts, I feel that subbing coconut oil for butter much of the time when baking is a great way to lighten that load.
3- Not Baking (aka No-Bake Treats)
One of the most unique things about coconut oil is the fact that it is naturally a solid at room temperature. This makes it the absolute holy grail of homemade no-bake goodies like tarts, cookies, peanut butter cups, freezer fudge, and even cheesecakes! It works excellently as a base for homemade chocolate coating instead of chocolate chips, which is super because that’s another way to opt for something that’s a bit easier on the digestive system, as I mentioned above. Right now, I’m utterly obsessed with my mom’s no-bake chocolate coconut oat bars which are loaded with coconut oil (I may or may not be eating them at the moment…) and since they’re raw, that coconut oil retains all of its nutrients! Recipe is coming soon, by the way. 🙂
4- As an Addition to Kefir Shakes
It’s so sad the reproach associated with dietary fat these days. Katie Higgins of Chocolate Covered Katie, an excellent vegan recipe blogger, hit the nail on the head with this short but powerful article (which I highly recommend you take a minute and read if you haven’t done so already) where she worked to uncover the truth about dietary fat and why incorporating healthy fats like nuts/nut butters, avocados, and yes—coconut oil, into our diets is not not only okay, it’s essential! I believe the food industry wants us to shy away from eating these beneficial fats so that we’ll be more inclined to choose low-fat, fat-free, and just plain unhealthy-fat-filled food products instead because they’re cheaper for them to produce…but accepting this reproach comes to us at our own expense! That being said, I will tell you that I’m not afraid of a
little lot of healthy fat! I enjoy adding a big spoonful of unrefined coconut oil to my milk kefir shakes each day because it’s an easy way to pump in the nutrients, and it adds a delicious flavor which complements kefir’s tang quite nicely.
5- Making Popcorn
If you’ve never tried making air-pop popcorn at home, you really should! It’s a lot of fun, doesn’t take much more time or effort than making a bag of the microwaveable (ew!), and it tastes so good! Coconut oil is perfect for coating the bottom of the pan for this because thanks to its high smoke point it won’t burn the same way olive oil will. I’ve used both refined and unrefined (the latter of which still retains a subtle coconut flavor) coconut oil for this, and believe me, the popcorn tastes scrumptious both ways! Even when I’ve used the unrefined, it’s never produced tropical-tasting popcorn—just popcorn that’s better than the movie theater kind!
As I mentioned above, coconut oil has a high smoke point which makes it the oil of choice for frying. Aside from sautéeing vegetables and making skillet-fried breakfast potatoes, my family and I don’t really do a lot of frying. My mom, however, is well-known for having the best fried chicken for miles and miles…and whenever she does decide to fry up a clucker, it’s that jar of coconut oil she reaches for.
7- Homemade Tooth Polish
Though they are so different from the gel- and paste-based kinds, I love using clay-based toothpastes. I never want to go back to the paste kinds because they (clay-based toothpastes) make my teeth feel SO beautiful and squeaky clean! On the occasions that we don’t have any around (usually because we ran out and couldn’t make more for needing to pick up more bentonite clay), I’ll default to using whatever natural paste-based toothpaste we have lurking around in the bathroom closet. And while I (usually) have nothing against these kinds of toothpastes, after a few days of using them I always tend to notice how far below the bar they fall at doing their job when compared to clay toothpastes—that is, they clean my mouth but don’t leave my teeth feeling as smooth as I like. That’s why I love using homemade tooth polish! And when creamed together with a bit of baking soda, coconut oil makes for the perfect tooth polish! The baking soda—while too abrasive for everyday use—is great for using occasionally, and the coconut oil keeps the soda from drying out your mouth and lips while also giving teeth that extra bit of shine. A friend of mine makes a homemade lemon coconut oil tooth polish that tastes AMAZING, and I’m hoping to be able to get her recipe soon to share with you guys. 🙂
Like I said above, there are literally TONS of things you can do with coconut oil. My mom loves using it to dilute essential oils for topical application, and my “second mama” uses it on its own as a nighttime facial moisturizer. There are still plenty of uses I’ve yet to try, but as of today these seven are my top favorites! A few neat ideas I came across in my research that I want to try next are:
- Coconut Oil & Chia Seed Energy Mix
- After-Dishes Hand Moisturizer (super handy because of the jar of coconut oil being right there in the cabinet beside the sink—I’ll be able to put it on before getting distracted by something else on my way to my lotion!)
- Cuticle Softener
What about you??
. . . . .
Do you have a favorite use for coconut oil? What are your thoughts on healthy fats?
Many thanks goes out to Chocolate Covered Katie for featuring this post for Hug a Fat Month! 🙂