Like Edith Piaf, I’m not someone who has many regrets. Except one rather large one…
The years I spent working in the food industry developing ‘healthy’ snacks for a multinational breakfast cereal company.
When I think about the time I spent coming up with creative ways to make these ‘97% fat free’ products taste palatable, it still makes me feel a little icky.
Of course at the time I had no idea that the grains, dried fruits and sugars which were part of our ‘healthy’ ingredient arsenal were anything but good for our consumers.
I was fresh from my food science program at university where the nutrition team had talked endlessly about the perils of fats in general and saturated fat in particular. Naively I believed what I was taught.
But over the years, I’ve kept my education going. And my reading along with my self experimentation means it’s been years since I’ve been afraid of fat. Even saturated fat.
I eat eggs for breakfast most days. I adore cheese. I even look forward to gnawing on the fatty parts of a lamb cutlet (sorry vegetarian friends!).
And the best part?
I’ve never found it easier to manage my weight (well apart from this whole baby bump thing ;)
So when I get an email like this one from Erica, it makes me both angry and sad.
“I’m very keen to learn the latest views on coconut oil and saturated fats. I was always told that coconut milk and coconut oil were very high in ‘bad fats’ and that they should be avoided at all costs when cooking. But lately I have seen coconut oil products on the shelf in the supermarket (cooking spray) and I’ve also noticed that foodies are now recommending the use of coconut oil for cooking due to stability at high temperatures and health benefits.
I love coconut and would like to reintroduce some of these products in my cooking, but I’m still concerned about the warnings I’ve received in the past and I don’t want to risk my family’s health. Can you please clear up my confusion?”
It’s a great reminder that not everyone knows that ‘low fat’ and even ‘low saturated fat’ is not the way forward.
So lets talk about the benefits of coconut oil…
5 Benefits of Coconut Oil
1. It’s delicious!
I’m a believer in the adage that healthy food must taste good as well. Otherwise it’s possibly not as ‘healthy’ as you’d think (like my fructose laden ‘cereal bars’). I love to have a teaspoon straight out of the jar.
2. It’s stable at higher temperatures.
Which means it’s difficult to burn. So it’s great for cooking, especially stir frying and pan frying. For more on which oils I use and why see the Great Stonesoup Oil Crisis.
3. It helps our internal antioxidant systems.
Because it’s a rich source of MCTs (medium chain triglycerides), coconut oil provides the building blocks to make a molecule called beta-HBA which improves antioxidant function. It’s also helpful in treating Alzhiemer’s disease.
4. It’s a superfuel for the brain
And can help promote brain health by stimulating the growth of new brain cells.
5. It helps boost your immune system
The fats found in coconut oil (and butter) can help white blood cells recognize and destroy invading germs and tumours.
Source: Grain Bran by David Perlmutter.
But what about the Saturated Fat in Coconut Oil?
Isn’t it going to block our arteries? And cause all sorts of problems.
In a word. No.
According to neurologist Dr David Perlmutter in his book Grain Brain, current thinking (from 2010) in the American Journal of Nutrition is that eating more saturated fat isn’t linked to higher risk of heart disease, cardiovascular disease or stroke.
Like to learn more about the benefits of fats?
Including saturated fat? Then I recommend reading ‘Grain Brain’ by neurologist Dr David Perlmutter. It’s a fascinating read.
And I’d love to hear what you think? Leave a comment below and share where you’re at with the whole saturated fat thing…
Since I’ve been including variations for dairy-free and vegan options on my recipes, I usually include coconut sorbet as an alternative to vanilla ice cream or cream to top sweet treats and cakes. While there are some great commercial coconut sorbets out there, they can be hard to find so here’s my recipe.
enough for: 2-4 as a side
takes: 10 minutes + 6 hours freezing
1 can coconut cream, unsweetened (400mL / 14oz)
1 ripe pear or banana
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
stevia, rice malt syrup or maple syrup, to taste (optional)
1. Place coconut cream in a ziplock bag. Place in the freezer until frozen, about 6 hours.
2. Chop pear or banana (peeling banana first) into chunks and place in another ziplock bag. Freeze.
3. About 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve the sorbet, remove the coconut cream and fruit from the freezer.
4. Bash the coconut cream in the bag to break into chunks (or throw it on the floor). Remove coconut chunks from the bag and place in a food processor along with the frozen fruit.
5. Whizz with the vanilla (if using) until you have a soft-serve sorbet consistency. This will take a while so be patient. If it’s not coming together add a few tablespoons water to hasten the process.
6. Taste and add your preferred sweetener (if needed). When you’re happy, serve asap or place in a container and return to the freezer for up to an hour. Longer than this and your sorbet will start to turn icy but will still be edible.
coconut milk – is fine will just be less rich than coconut cream.
no fruit / low carb sorbet – you could skip the fruit for a lower carb sorbet but you’ll need to add some stevia or other sweetener.
other fruit – feel free to play around! Berries are awesome and for a tropical vibe frozen mango or pineapple (or both) are delicious.
boozy – add a splash of vodka or white rum.