The Curated Kitchen
WHY YOU NEED IT //
This week’s Curated Kitchen Essential is all about coconut. And why do you need it? Because FAT! What can I say? You’ve been lied to your whole life about this essential macronutrient. I know, it’s frustrating and I’m sorry but it’s time to get on board with the new research and accept that coconut is a must-have pantry essential.
While we used to think that coconut products were far too high in saturated fat to be healthy, we now know that’s simply not true. In fact, the saturated fats in coconut are considered to be the reason for its superfood powers due to their nourishing effects on both our digestive and nervous system. Coconut and coconut oil is easy to metabolize due to its abundance of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are a type of fatty acid that is processed by our liver. These MCTs can be quickly converted to energy because they are smaller than their longer chain counterparts and they can be easily utilized by the body instead of being stored as fat. MCTs are awesome because they don’t require bile, which is made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder) for digestion. Anyone who has had a cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) or suffers from impaired digestion should include MCTs in their diet as it’s a great source of fat.
Coconut has been shown to help reduce cholesterol levels due to lauric acid—a MCT that increases HDL levels in the blood. Consuming coconut products can help improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. Coconut and coconut oil is also a powerful antifungal, which is essential to helping keep a healthy balance of gut flora (aka the good bacteria that live and thrive in our digestive tracts). Anyone who suffers from frequent yeast infections like candida will benefit greatly from upping their coconut intake. The antifungal properties of coconut also help reduce and manage sugar cravings because there are less bad bacteria present, thus less microorganisms demanding a source of sugar for survival. So eat your coconut!
There are many different sources of coconut available including coconut oil, coconut butter (my latest obsession—seriously go get some, like NOW because it will change your life), unsweetened dehydrated flakes, raw young coconut meat, and coconut milk. Coconut water is also another amazing health food full of natural electrolytes and minerals like zinc and iron, but it doesn’t contain the nourishing fats found in other coconut goods.
A bit about coconut oil specifically…Coconut oil is great for high heat cooking since it’s smoke point—the temperature at which oil begins to break down into potentially toxic compounds—is one of the highest of all unrefined oils. It should be your go-to cooking oil! While it does have a stronger flavor than say olive oil, you really don’t want to use It boosts metabolism and thyroid function, as well as increase absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Are you convinced yet? Just remember fat doesn’t make you fat!
NUTRITION HIGHLIGHTS //
Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
Serving size: 1/4 cup
Calories: 100 kcals
Protein: 1 g
Fat: 10 g
Carbohydrates: 4 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: <1 g
Micronutrients: zinc and iron
Serving size: 1 tbs, coconut oil
Calories: 100-115 kcals
Protein: 0 g
Fat: 14 g
Carbohydrates: 0 g
Fiber: 0 g
Sugars: 0 g
HOW TO MAKE //
No need to cook or prepare if you buy pre-shredded and flaked. Simply enjoy straight from the package! And, yes I know we wouldn’t normally endorse packaged foods but this is an exception because it’s seriously one ingredient—coconut! If you want to get more hands on, find a fresh young coconut in the refrigerated section of your market and either have the grocer open it for you (most will if you ask) or consult good ‘ol Google for plenty of DIY coconut cracking tutorials and videos.
WAYS TO EAT IT //
Oatmeal. Both shredded coconut and coconut butter is amazing stirred into soaked oats for breakfast. It boosts the fat, which helps manage insulin levels. (Stay tuned for my fave soaked oat porridge recipe coming SOON!)
Smoothies. Sprinkle or drizzle coconut products into blended drinks for a nutritious addition and extra creaminess.
By the Handful or Spoonful. You have my full approval and consent.
Nut Butter. Tossing a few tablespoons of coconut flakes into nut butter adds a crunchy texture. It’s also great on top of nut butter covered toast.
Homemade Snack Bars and Granola. Add to energy globes, bliss bars, or homemade granola. (Recipes for all of these coming to the blog SOON!)
Salads. Lightly toasted coconut adds a subtle sweetness and crunch to greens.
Homemade coconut yogurt. Another great way to enjoy coconut meat from a fresh young coconut. (And also another recipe you’ll see on the blog SOON! wink wink)
SHOP SMART //
Season. Coconut trees produce fruit year round. Hooray for us!
Buy fresh young coconut in the refrigerated section of your market. Same goes for fresh coconut water. My fave brand of dehydrated unsweetened coconut flakes is this one. And if you’re looking for BPA-free canned coconut milk, I recommend this brand.
TIPS + ADVICE //
While uber good for you, coconut products are still calorically dense, which means they pack a lot of calories in a small portion so be mindful when eating it!
Pop a can of coconut milk in your fridge overnight and use the cream that rises to the top to make delicious vegan frosting (as shown in my Honey Vanilla Paleo Birthday Cake recipe).
Buy a separate jar of coconut oil to keep in your bathroom for use as a skin moisturizer, hair mask, or for oil pulling!
So there you it, friends! Coconut is DA BOMB. Are you a coconut fan? What’s your favorite way to use it? Share with us below—we absolutely LOVE hearing from you guys!