Coconut oil has become a bit of a joke due to it’s alleged magical properties. I saw an image circulating on Facebook recently, a photo of a baby with the text “my mom solves all our problems with breast milk, coconut oil and essential oils.” Then another, a list of symptoms and solutions along the lines of “Acne? Coconut Oil. Dry skin? Coconut Oil. No friends? Coconut Oil. Bad credit? Coconut oil.”
The thing is, it’s all true (okay, maybe not the bad credit thing). Coconut oil is a miracle substance that is useful for everything. Really, everything. I started out buying it in glass jars at Trader Joe’s to cook and bake with, but now I live further from the store and its not always in stock anyway, so I’ve taken to buying it in bulk at BJ’s. A 36 ounce container costs around $11 and it lasts. I keep the big container in my pantry, with small plastic food safe containers in the other rooms.
Now, coconut oil is a funny thing. When it’s cold, it’s solid. When it’s warm, it’s liquid. 76 degrees Fahrenheit is the official melting point of coconut oil, so when I get ready for bed in the evening and see my little container solidifying, I know it’ll be a nice cool night. My personal preference is for cold pressed over expeller pressed coconut oil. It seems to have a little more body, and holds up a little more when used in baked goods. Coconut oil is popping up everywhere, from grocery stores to Target, and most of it is expeller or hot pressed – but you may find no difference.
So now, my top 5 uses for coconut oil, in no particular order. This is by no means an exhaustive list of uses, but it’s where I find myself using this miraculous compound most often.
Dairy is a problem in this house. Little Miss and I are big fans of it, with cheese being a pretty major dietary staple. My husband unfortunately, can’t say the same. It’s not so much that he doesn’t like dairy, as that it doesn’t like him in a big way. So when I’m baking and come across a recipe that calls for butter, what do I do? I could buy non-dairy butter in stick or tub variety; the taste isn’t bad at all, but it gets a little bit pricey and I don’t always have enough in the house. So what’s a baker to do? Coconut oil! I’ve substituted coconut oil for butter in more recipes than I can count, and I don’t think any have been any worse for it. Depending on the amount the recipe calls for and the potency of the other flavors, you will get a mild to moderate coconut taste to the finished product. Personally, I don’t mind.
Most often, I cook with olive oil. My mom’s family is Italian, it’s just what you do. But every now and then when I’m looking for another flavor and wishing I could drop a lump of butter in the frying pan, I reach for the coconut oil instead. It melts down quickly and gives a rich flavor, almost reminiscent of butter. And who can argue with that?
I bake with it, I cook with it…I rub it on my face. Yes, you read that right. Coconut oil is an amazing moisturizer. Some people have different results depending on the type of skin they have, but I find that it absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave a greasy feeling. It helps moisturize dry skin, and helps treat problem skin – coconut oil has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. So while putting oil on a zit may seem counter intuitive, it can actually help. Coconut oil also makes a mean base for a sugar scrub (coconut oil + sugar = killer scrub).
4. Diaper Rash
We’re getting really crazy around here, aren’t we? I keep a separate little container of coconut oil and cotton swabs on the changing table. Back when Little Miss first started eating solids, the acidic fruits she liked were wreaking havoc on her poor sensitive skin. The A&D ointment locked the moisture against the skin and did nothing for the irritation. I tried Boudreaux’s Butt Paste hoping for better results and was disappointed. So why not? I tried coconut oil and miracle of miracles, sweet girl’s baboon butt cleared up. Since then that’s all we’ve used. From minor irritation to tough rashes, coconut oil does the trick.
5. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling made the rounds on social media about a year ago. It’s the Ayurvedic practice of swishing oil around your mouth for about 20 minutes, supposed to improve not only dental health, but overall health. I do it now and then with coconut oil. Take up to a tablespoon of oil and swish it around and around (try not to swallow it) and then spit it into the garbage can. Do I think it’s affecting my overall health? Not really, but then again I don’t do it often. Do I think it affects my dental health? Maybe! My teeth do feel awfully clean after. But moreso, I have TMJ which means I clench my jaw when I’m angry, stressed, or sometimes, just not paying attention, and oil pulling helps me soften up my cheeks and stretch out my jaw muscles.
Are you a fan of coconut oil? What are your favorite uses?