Secret Ingredient – Coconut Oil
By Anne-Marie Kovacs, Chief Wife
I know you've noticed it too. Coconut oil is everywhere.
Yet another fad? Gosh, I hope not, because from everything I've been reading, coconut oil is long overdue for its presence as a staple in our pantries and bathroom cupboards.
Until just a few years ago, coconut oil was widely deemed unhealthy in America. It was much the result of a smear campaign against “tropical oils” in the last century. That's because these oils and coconut oil contain loads of saturated fat (the good kind). Deceptive PR campaigns run by competing farm groups (ahem, soybean oil) starting about 60 years ago have led us to believe that ALL saturated fats were bad for us. You can read about all that brouhaha here.
But, we're smarter now. Or at least, better informed. We know that coconut oil's saturated fat is mostly lauric acid. That's a good thing as “… lauric acid has been recognized for its unique properties in food use, which are related to its antiviral, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal functions”1. It also acts as a blood sugar stabilizer as well as disease and fungus fighter. It's too bad been that's we've been avoiding this wonder. Until now.
Coconut oil's moment has arrived. And if you haven't already stocked up, let me give you reasons to liberally consume and slather the stuff:
In the kitchen:
Cooking oil: Coconut oil is great for frying. It's a very stable oil (which is why it's a solid below 76 degrees) and has a high smoke point which means it won't degrade at high temperatures. It's resistant to rancidity and has a shelf life of two years. It's also great for baking. Use as any other oil with a 1:1 ratio.
Dairy-free replacement to butter: If you don't tolerate dairy, or are on a paleo or vegan diet, spread coconut oil instead of butter!
Coffee creamer: Again a good idea if you are looking for non-dairy options. I found that adding coconut oil to my morning coffee makes it rich (though not creamy – it stays black) and really helps me combat the low blood sugar that usually plagues me before lunch. I've also tried and love coconut cream. I get mine at Trader Joe's but you can also find coconut cream in any Asian market or online.
Season cast iron pans: You want to season your pan to make it a breeze to clean. How to season a cast iron pan is probably not something that your mom taught you (mine didn't). But doing so with coconut oil is one of the best ways to ensure that the job is well done and will last. Find instructions for that here and on how to oil your wooden cutting board too.
For the body:
Skin lotion & facial moisturizer & massage oil & shaving cream: All you need is coconut oil to get all these jobs done. And then some. Here's an idea! Let's clear our bathroom shelves from all the products that contain chemicals, colorants and other additives (Parabens, etc..ugh!). Instead, we can use natural coconut oil all over our faces and bodies. Coconut oil absorbs quickly and won't clog pores. In the beauty department, you can also use it as makeup remover, cuticle softener, lip balm and eye cream.
PS: here are some great “recipes” to make body scrubs.
Oil pulling: This is the practice of swishing oil around in your mouth to clean your gums and teeth. I haven't tried this yet, but oil pulling, a traditional ayurvedic practice, is based on the theory that the oil swished in the mouth (and then spit out) will absorb toxins and bacteria in the mouth. Some health experts discount this, but we know that the regular practice of oil pulling results in whiter teeth and healthier gums.
Treat skin irritations & eczema: Stings, diaper rashes, sunburns, minor cuts and scrapes can be made better with a little coconut oil lovingly applied. Coconut oil has the ability to nourish and heal. This all makes sense because of the oil's emollient and antimicrobial properties.
Hair conditioner, treatment and de-frizzer: Coconut oil is perfect to use on hair as it “has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft“2. Yeah. That would be as opposed to the ton of chemicals usually found in commercial shampoos and conditioners. For the all-intensive hair repair treatment, you will want to leave the oil in your hair overnight. Wikihow has instructions for that here. For “normal” conditioning, you can do the same but leaving the oil in for 15 minutes up to two hours (I'd say, at that point, you might as well sleep in it!). For your case of the frizzies, rub a tiny, pea-sized amount between your fingers to tame your strands. Coconut oil is said to make hair stronger, healthier and shinier.
Among other of the more common applications for coconut oil is to use it as an insect repellent, personal lubricant, deodorant and toothpaste… Want more? This list includes 160 uses for coconut oil. Let me know which one you've tried!
I'm buying a vat of the stuff. I'm not even kidding. This one.
1 Coconut:In Support of Good Health in the 21st Century, http://coconutoil.com/coconut_oil_21st_century/
2 Coconut Oil Hair Benefits, http://coconutoil.com/coconut-oil-hair-benefits-how-to-use-coconut-oil-for-natural-hair-health/