If we polled Well+Good readers to see what single item they’d bring on a desert island, coconut oil would be a hands-down frontrunner. As a multitasking beauty item, a single jar of coconut oil has the power to tame frizz, whiten teeth, remove makeup, and provide tons of much-needed moisture and a dozen more other uses.
Of course, it also works wonders in your kitchen, coos Jesa Henneberry, a private vegan-and-Paleo chef, who is often found in the kitchen at The Garden retreat in the Hudson River Valley.
“Coconut oil! Oh, how I love thee! I enjoy it in savory dishes that have exotic notes, such as Thai curries,” she says. “But what I really love to use it for is baking and sweet treats. It’s solid at room temperature, so it’s a great stabilizer. I use it in chocolate cherry chia seed truffles, Paleo- and vegan-friendly chocolate mousse, and frostings. I also put it in my Bulletproof-style protein coffee every day!”
1. Bump up your oatmeal. Nix the sugar from your breakfast bowl, and add a bit of melted coconut oil to add sweetness and a hint of flavor and good fats. (Just run the jar under hot water to liquify the oil.)
2. Treat yourself to cinnamon toast crunch. Mix a little coconut oil with cinnamon and spread it on your favorite sprouted bread for a filling morning (or afternoon) pick-me up. Hey, there’s only so much avocado toast you can eat, am I right?
3. Blend it into your coffee. Add a spoonful of coconut oil into your morning java, and throw it in your Nutribullet for a minute or so for a fortifying Bulletproof-style beverage. Note: simply stirring it in may leave a slightly oily, less yummy consistency.
4. Whip up a showstopping stir-fry. Because it has such a high percentage of saturated fat (don’t worry, it’s a good kind!), coconut oil can withstand up to 450 degrees of heat—100 degrees more than olive oil. “Its high smoke point makes it perfect for quick veggie stir-fries and pan-searing fish or tofu,” says Henneberry, and even healthier sweet potato fries.
5. Bake protein-packed muffins without any butter. Cool virgin coconut oil in a refrigerator until it takes on a slightly hardened texture similar to that of butter. If you’re not so into the flavor, use ¾ to every 1 tablespoon of butter.
6. Make popcorn that won’t clog your arteries. Is there anything better than a bowl of freshly popped kernels while you get your weekly fix of Olivia Pope? Drizzle melted coconut oil on stove-popped popcorn to get that buttery, movie theater taste.
7. Top just about anything with a “Magic” chocolate shell. Drizzle a spoonful (or three!) of the simple mixture on top a frozen banana and watch it harden to create a dessert that will make you feel like Jacques Torres.
8. Use it like vegan Crisco. Use a dab of coconut oil on a paper towel to grease your cookie trays and keep your gluten-free angel food cake from getting stuck in the tin.
9. Dress up your kale. Instead of olive oil, which is often called for in kale salads, add a teaspoon of coconut oil to your torn kale leaves before massaging them. Need a recipe? Check out this one, which Well+Good staffers make all. the. time.
10. Supercharge your smoothies. The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil are the subject of lots of scientific studies right now. One recently showed that MCTs effectively destroyed viruses, another that it lowered cholesterol, and a third indicates it might assist in weight loss. Can your almond butter do that?
11. Season your cast iron skillet. Instead of a non-stick spray, prime your new pans with coconut oil the first few times you use them. The result will be a longer-lasting pan that’s easy to clean.
12. Lubricate kitchen tools before handling sticky foods. Slicing dates is much easier than it sounds, isn’t it? Before chopping up raw ingredients, spread a bit on your knives and scissors, and slice with ease. —Sarah Sarway