Northeast Times

Go Nuts for Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has been called the 'low fat fat.' It has a slightly sweet taste and blends well with oth­er foods.

Vir­gin coconut oil is of­ten called “low-fat fat.” Al­though coconut oil is a sat­ur­ated fat, it’s lower in cal­or­ies. 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 best res­ults.

Coconut oil has a long shelf life and doesn’t have to be kept re­fri­ger­ated (un­less you prefer to use it in a sol­id state for com­bin­ing with oth­er in­gredi­ents), so buy­ing coconut oil in bulk from on­line stores like Vitacost.com will save you a lot of money. Be­cause you can use coconut oil in so many ways, buy­ing in bulk also is the easi­est way to keep this won­der­ful product on hand. I not only use it on my hair and skin, it’s also be­come a kit­chen staple.

Here are some sug­ges­tions on 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 that’s cool enough to drink. Stir of­ten to com­bine the oil with the li­quid.

• Coconut oil is a healthy cook­ing oil, es­pe­cially for low- to me­di­um-heat cook­ing and saute­ing as it doesn’t break down eas­ily. Add 1 to 3 ta­ble­spoons to your pan and cook eggs, ve­get­ables, rice and grain dishes, pota­toes, cur­ries, soups, stews and meats.

• 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. Also 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.

BABA GHAN­OUSH

My ver­sion of baba ghan­oush has ad­ded fla­vor and health be­ne­fits with the ad­di­tion of coconut oil. This sa­vory egg­plant pur­ee 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

1. Pre­heat oven to 350 F. Sprinkle egg­plant with 1/2 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.

2. When cool enough to handle, scoop egg­plant pulp in­to a bowl and dis­card skin. Add re­main­ing tea­spoon of salt, the tahini, gar­lic, yogurt, pars­ley, lem­on juice and the coconut oil. Mash for a chunky tex­ture or pur­ee in a blender (be­fore adding pars­ley) for a smooth tex­ture.

3. 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.” Her Web site is www.di­vapro.com

To see how-to videos, re­cipes and much, much more, Like An­gela Shelf Medear­is, The Kit­chen Diva! on Face­book and go to Hulu.com

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