If you’re anything like me, and heaven help you if are, then you grew up with an overwhelming fear of fat. Particularly The Devil Saturated fat. Now of course we demonize transfat, and rightly so, which occupies my paranoiac tendencies long enough to rethink fat in general.
I’ve long since come around to the cures-everything-but-ingrown-toenails Extra Virgin Olive Oil (laaaa!). Avocados were a little harder sell but since I love the taste and would eat cat food if it were topped with gaucamole, they are now a regular staple of my diet. Being a vegetarian, I eat a ridiculous amount of nuts. Pretty much the same with olives. But there’s been one natural fatty source that I’ve still been avoiding despite having a deep affinity for Almond Joys: coconut.
All the fatty foods I now embrace are either poly- or mono-unsaturated fats. Coconut is saturated fat. I’ve encountered this nemesis before in the incredible edible egg which I used to get around by only eating the whites. Thankfully I’ve given that up and eat the yolks too (shout out to my special vitamin choline!). But there was just something about coconut that felt too decadent. Sure, it’s from nature and my motto is officially “the closer it is to nature, the better it is for you,” but coconut oil has been so vilified for so long that save for the admittedly naughty (nutty!) Almond Joy, I still avoided it.
Enter coconut milk. I love Thai food so much that one of my pet names for my children is “mangda” (waterbug – yes Thais eat them. The bugs. Not my children.) and coconut is a staple in their dishes. I tried subbing other things for it in recipes but they never tasted right so one day in a moment of Trader Joe’s Weakness (also how I came home with wasabi peas), I bought a couple of cans and was grateful that there was no nutritional label on the back. Also: the ingredient list says “very good for you coconut”!! How could you not love such a witty cuisine?
The result was divine. Even my kids ate all their noodles. My husband couldn’t stop raving about it. I tried it again in a lentil dish. Same result. But I was still holding out on coconut oil.
The Other Virgin
You know what finally sold me on organic virgin coconut oil (Laaaa!)? The fact that you can lick the can lid and it tastes totally amazing. Try that with shortening (not that anyone uses that anymore, right??) and you’ll want to claw your tongue out.
The nasty overprocessed coconut oil like you find in the evil-but-OH-so-tasty movie theater popcorn is still not good for you. Sorry. But organic virgin coconut oil has a host of health benefits including… weight loss.
Reader D (love you, girl!) pointed me to this list of benefits. Here are the highlights:
– Immune support through anti-viral and anti-infective properties of lauric acid, the same property found in human breast milk, and several other acids. (goodbye flu season!)
– Capric acid is a known antimicrobial
– Coconut oil is a thermogenic, which means it increases the rate at which the body burns calories, which can increase weight loss.
The juice, or water, from young green coconuts also has an interesting property: it has the same electrolyte balance as human blood. In fact, in World War II, it was occasionally used as a plasma substitute in wounded soldiers. What this means to us, seeing as you’ll probably never be mortally wounded on a desert island without medical facilities knock-on-wood, is that this makes it the perfect workout beverage! No need to drink processed man-made formulations when nature has already provided the perfectly balanced (and perfectly tasty) drink. And unlike coconut milk or oil, coconut water only has 45 calories per serving and almost no fat so you could really use it to rehydrate. Although it could make water stations at races a lot messier. But hey, at least coconut husks are biodegradable which is more than can be said for all those little paper cups!
Do you have a fave coconut recipe? Share the love! I need ideas. For dinner. Um, tonight:)