I know I wrote about coconut oil before, but I had to add some things and change my opinion on other things because of what I’ve learned since.
First of all, I have tried several different brands of coconut oil, and I find their flavors/aromas fall into two categories: those that smell like coconut and those that smell like perfume (i.e. inedible, and not a pleasant perfume either). Though other people I’ve had smell them do not always perceive them as such, so apparently you have to develop your own opinion. And if you tried coconut oil and didn’t like it, you might want to give it another chance with a different brand.
I like the brands Nutiva and Lou Ana, but I really don’t like the taste or smell of these odd brands I’ve tried (such as Parachute or Hope’s Harvest). I’ll use them as a moisturizer or bath oil until they’re used up, but they taste pretty odd in food.
Next, I have to confess about my post on making Oven Pancakes with coconut oil. By far the best way I’ve now found to make them is without any oil/butter at all. I spray the pan with cooking spray, but don’t preheat it. So it’s easier to make and so much better for you. (Unless you are a believer in consuming as much coconut oil as possible, which I currently am not.)
About all the health claims. I get two very scientifically based health newsletters (the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and Nutrition Action), and both of them came out with an article about coconut oil in their June 2012 issues. Primarily they were addressing the recent health claims about coconut oil and Alzheimer’s and both used the scientific evidence at hand to show that coconut oil does not slow cognitive decline (even though it apparently worked really well for the husband of the lady who wrote the book that started this hype).
There are not enough good tests to demonstrate its health claims (referring to actually eating it) and neither organization would recommend using it in place of other healthy vegetable oils such as olive and canola. They weren’t against its occasional use, though, and my impression from the articles was that it is better for you than other saturated fats (like butter) or any hydrogenated oils.
There may be some other good things about coconut. I recently read an article about coconut oil and oral hygiene that made coconut oil sound great. But it seems that generally, health science just hasn’t figured out what to think of coconut oil yet. You can often use less coconut oil than a recipe calls for of butter or margarine, which would cut down on calories.
Lastly, I have found a way I really like to use coconut oil that doesn’t work with any other ingredient I know of: making your own “Magic Shell” like ice cream topping! Since coconut oil is solid at 75 degrees or below, it melts with a slight boost in temperature, and quickly hardens when you put it on something cold like ice cream. I got this recipe from Our Best Bites, and I have tried it a few times already. (But I’ll have to put in some pictures, so I guess I’ll have to go make some more!)
Take a small glass dish, pour in some chocolate chips and add a spoonful of coconut oil. (For you measurers, I used 1/2 cup chips and maybe 2 tsp oil this time, but it’s pretty flexible.)
Microwave a little (I did 30 seconds) and stir. When they come out of the microwave, they won’t look melted, but stirring will make a big difference.
Drizzle over ice cream. If you’re a cheap skate like I am and never buy the commercial stuff, your kids will be impressed. And if you do, and you tell them you did it yourself, they’ll still be impressed.
I used a glass dish that had a lid, so I just put the lid on and leave it in the cupboard. If your house is chilly (or if it’s winter), you may have to pop it in the microwave for a few seconds and stir again. I’m not sure since I’ve only been making this this summer.