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Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Since about mid-January, and maybe in an attempt to ease some of the dryness of winter in our Front Range home of Longmont, CO our household has been overtaken by coconuts! The oil of coconut has found its way into our daily life, and we love it. I have found that coconut oil and coconut milk has replaced my desire for cheese and dairy products, and I’m enjoying the change of something new in my diet that seems to be supporting happy little pleasures like more energy, shiny hair and skin and just a general loving-of-my-body-and-life feeling! As a result, I’ve been sharing my excitement with many, and I’d love to pass along some of the delightful little nuggets I’ve learned about coconuts, as well as recipes for some of the savory dishes I’ve had the pleasure of creating. I hope you find some inspiration here to create some healthful and decedent culinary delights of your own!

Coconut oil, for starters, has so many positive effects on health it is almost unbelievable! Studies indicate that intake of coconut oil can help our bodies mount resistance to both viruses and bacteria, as well as help to fight off yeast, fungus and candida. Coconut oil can also positively affect our hormones for thyroid and blood sugar control. Coconut oil can boost thyroid function helping to increase metabolism, energy and endurance. It increases digestion and helps to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Coconut fats have special fats called MEDIUM chain triglycerides (MCTs), and they are processed differently in our bodies than any other fats, as all others are LONG chain fatty acids. It has been shown that breaking down these types of healthy fats in the liver leads to efficient burning of energy. One 2009 study found that women who consumed 30 milliliters (about 2 tablespoons) of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks not only did not gain more weight, but actually had lowered amounts of abdominal fat, a type of fat that is difficult to lose, and contributes to more heart problems. Good news all around! I encourage you to do more of your own research on coconut oil, as there is an abundance of information out there, including the effect that coconut oil can have on dental health! Check that out here:

Dr. Mecola: Coconut Oil May Combat Tooth Decay

In the meantime, play around with some of these wonderful recipes and share with your loved ones!

Coconut Chocolate Protein Shake (my weekend breakfast pictured above!)

Add to blender:

6 oz. coconut milk
2 scoops chocolate TerasWhey protein shake powder
2 cutie clémentines or 1 orange
handful of kale- you decide how much!
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Enjoy the benefits of shiny hair and skin as well as healthy happy heart and soul!

The following are dinner options that all start with a Caribbean staple: RICE & BEANS! I’ve found that by making a large batch of both the rice and beans (then mixing together) at the beginning of the week, I can add the fish of my choice, or even a couple fried eggs on top, to make a simple and fast meal anytime throughout the week.

Coconut Rice

2 tablespoons coconut Oil
4 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons fresh Ginger, minced
3 cups Forbidden Black Rice by Lotus Foods (found at Whole Foods or other health food stores)
3 cups coconut milk
2 cups water

1) Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant but not brown, about 1 minute.

2) Add the rice and sauté until the individual grains are coated with the oil, about 1 minute.

3) Add the coconut milk, water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and cook the rice until all the liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender, 18-25 minutes.

4) Remove the pan from the heat and let the rice stand, covered, for 1 minute. Fluff with a fork, and mix in the beans (below) after they have been prepared.

Cuban-Style Black Beans

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried cumin
3 16oz cans organic black beans
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1) Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, oregano and cumin and sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

2) Add 1 cup of beans to pan. Using back of fork, mash beans coarsely. Add remaining beans, broth and vinegar and simmer until mixture thickens and flavors blend, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

3) Season beans to taste with sea salt and pepper and serve.

Last but not least, a tasty Coconut Curry sauce to put on top of the fish of your choice, served with the rice and beans. This makes quite a bit of sauce, and it can be saved in the fridge to be used for several dishes!

Coconut Curry Sauce

2/3 cup (or half a package) coconut cream (available in a box near the coconut milk at your store)
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (exactly 6 squeezed limes)
6 tablespoons minced green onions
2 tablespoons green OR red curry paste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

1) Heat coconut cream in saucepan on the stove. When melted (will not melt to the same consistency of coconut oil, but rather will remain paste-y) add the lime juice and curry paste. Stir until combined.

2) Add minced green onions, cayenne pepper and salt and mix well.

3) Add to the top of fish before baking, or eggs after they have been prepared to your taste.

Enjoy rice and beans solo, or with fish or eggs, with Coconut Curry Sauce on top for a fantastic Caribbean meal!

Stay tuned for for more Coco-nut recipes next week!