For my first post I decided to write about something dear to my heart. My love for coconut oil has grown exponentially in the past few months. My first discovery of coconut oil came when I embarked on a paleo lifestyle as a replacement for using vegetable/hydrogenated oil and olive oil for cooking. However more recently I’ve found that coconut oil is not just for cooking but is more of an all-around multipurpose item!
First let’s get to a few basics of coconut oil:
Unrefined vs. Refined
When you walk into the health or natural section of your local grocery store such as Whole Foods, you’ll notice many different options of coconut oil. More importantly, you’ll notice that some are labeled “Unrefined” and some are labeled “Refined”. When I first started using coconut oil and reading recipes that called for it, some recommended using refined coconut oil since it has a higher smoke point than it’s unrefined counterpart. However, reading more on the process of refining coconut oil has made me come to realize that the process in doing so does exactly that –turns it into a more “processed” by refining, bleaching and deodorizing with sodium hydroxide. With this processing, there is a loss of coconut flavor, which I personally love. This also takes away a lot of the healthy benefits of coconut oil that we all love. So my answer here is simple, go unrefined! Unrefined = Pure coconut oil.
Virgin vs. Extra-virgin
Ok, so you’ve got that unrefined is the way to go. Now, what makes a coconut oil “extra-virgin” as opposed to “virgin”. Well Mark Sisson at Mark’s Daily Apple states “there is no other – or more virginal process of extracting oil from coconuts. The concept of ‘extra’ is nothing more than a marketing ploy.” So go ahead, buy the Virgin coconut oil and save your $ for some cute new knee socks! 🙂
(another thing to note: virgin and unrefined are used interchangeably from my knowledge and essentially mean the same thing)
There are so many different brands at different prices.. What do I buy?
My favorite is the Trader Joe’s brand of coconut oil. You get 16 ounces for $5.99 here in California which is a steal. I also don’t know if I’m just imagining this but I think it has a stronger coconut flavor than other brands of unrefined oil that I have tried which I like a lot. They usually sell out fast, so I try to stock up and get 3-4 jars when I need it.
However, if you don’t have access to a Trader Joe’s, I’ve heard amazing things about Tropical Traditions coconut oil. You can order it online and in large amounts (up to a 5lb pail!) If you’re in love with coconut oil like me and ready to make the large commitment to it in bulk, this is probably your best bet.
Now that I’ve given you some of the lowdown on getting the best bang for your buck when it comes to coconut oil, here are some of my favorite uses for the all-around-oil-amazingness and others that I’ve read are amazing as well:
- Cooking – This shouldn’t come as any surprise. I love cooking everything from eggs to veggies in this stuff. It doesn’t burn as fast as olive oil does and gives veggies a yummy hint of coconut.
- Baking – duh. This is key to making almost any delicious grain-free/dairy-free dessert.
- Body moisturizer – coconut oil has great moisturizing properties. If you look at the ingredient list of many store bought natural soaps and moisturizers, coconut oil is more than likely an ingredient. I’ve found myself getting some on my hands while cooking and rubbing it in (I have dry hands!)
- Lip Balm – just like above, apply to your lips for and kiss dry, chapped lips goodbye!
- Scratches, scrapes, and other skin ailments – because of it’s naturally soothing properties, coconut oil makes a good skin protectant for small scratches, scrapes, and some even say it works well with eczema outbreaks.
- Tablespoon in your recovery shake – Kim got me doing this and I am pretty much hooked! I add a tablespoon or so in my protein shaker and while my bag is in my car during my work day, it stays in liquid form. After a hard WOD at the box at night, I add my chocolate SFH pure whey protein for a yummy, cocounut-ty way to recover! Not only is it delicious, but the addition of the healthy fat may help in absorption of minerals. Just make sure you don’t use icy cold water – this will re-solidify your oil and isn’t recommended unless you like drinking chunky post-WOD shakes.
- Waterproof eye-makeup remover – If I could I would live in jeans, t’s, or workout clothes and sneakers every single day of my life. However some days call for the need to dress to impress which for me sometimes involves getting full-faced (in makeup.) Out of pure necessity one weekend I needed to take my waterproof mascara and eye make up off and I was at my boyfriend’s house. CVS was closed so I went home and realized.. why don’t I just use my boyfriend’s coconut oil. A small dab on some tissue and even my waterproof mascara was off! I followed up with face wash but coconut oil makes a great moisturizing, more natural eye make up remover.
- Body scrub – Mix with sea salt or raw sugar and essential oil if you like, and you have a homemade spa-worthy body scrub to use in the shower!
- DIY deodorant – I haven’t tried this yet, but I’ve heard nothing but praise for all-natural recipes for a DIY deodorant made of nothing but coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot powder and essential oils. I’ve recently stopped using anti-persperant deodorants with aluminum, so this is definitely on my to-try list once I’m done with my store bought natural deodorant.
- Lovey-lube – I can’t say that I have personally tried this.. but coconut oil seems to have some street cred as a personal lubricant. As always, oil is oil and NOT latex safe.. so be smart people!