Coconut Oil: Kitchen Pantry or Bathroom Vanity?
There have been countless pins and articles on coconut oil lately. Seems like you can throw coconut oil into anything and proclaim it as “healthy.” I appreciate that the coconut is one amazing food, with a long list of benefits and uses. But I was confused – that doesn’t make a Mounds or Almond Joy bar “diet food,” does it???
Several months ago, I started doing some reading and was convinced that there were enough benefits of coconut oil that I should buy a jar. I bought a jar and started experimenting in the kitchen first. I replaced pretty much all of my oils/fats with coconut oil at first. But slowly, the coconut oil made its way from my kitchen pantry to my bathroom vanity, which is where it’s stayed for the past couple of months. I believe there are uses and benefits of coconut oil in both the kitchen and the bathroom. Here are some ways I’ve used them in both areas of my house/life and why it eventually ended up in my bathroom.
In the Kitchen:
- There is no doubt about it – virgin coconut oil is delicious. It’s light, slightly nutty and fragrant flavor is just awesome. I could just open a jar and inhale it’s aroma and feel sated.
- Coconut Oil has some amazing health benefits. According to this New York Times article, the type of fat in coconut oil can raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels and has antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral properties and can increase metabolism. The molecular biologist says, “Coconut is good food, in moderation.” Why in moderation, if it has all of these health benefits?
- It’s still fat. It’s high in calories. Bottom line, raw veggies are better for me and my family than veggies sauteed in coconut oil with a dash of salt. By putting out a crudite platter or serving a salad and avoiding fats altogether, I’m cutting down the fats in my diet altogether.
- I continue to use unsaturated fats for cooking. For sautéing and recipes that call for oil (like pancakes or waffles), I still use canola or olive oil. I’m not really convinced right now that using coconut oil is that much more beneficial than unsaturated fats found in olive oil and canola oil. Plus, while coconut oil is delicious, there are times I don’t want it competing with the other flavors in my food.
- I use coconut oil to replace butter in my baking. To be honest, I don’t really do a lot of baking. When my second child was born, I lowered my self-imposed must-be-the-perfect-mom bar and I finally admitted to myself that I don’t enjoy baking at all. But I do occasionally make a fruit crumble (apple & peach are my favorite). This is one of my favorite ways to serve fruit with some extra fibre with oats, chia, wheat germ and other good stuff in the topping. I promise, I’ll post some pictures and recipe for the fruit crumble in a future post. For recipes like this, coconut oil is the perfect fat to use in the crumble topping.
In the Bathroom
- Make up remover. I massage coconut oil into my skin and wipe off with a cotton pad. It even works great at getting off water-proof mascara. I then follow up with my regular facial cleanser.
- Night time moisturizer. I recently ran out of my expensive department-store-cosmetics-counter night cream and used coconut oil instead because I had it handy. I fell in love with it and have been using it ever since.
- Hair conditioner. Once a month or so (more often if I’ve been to the beach or pool a lot) I use coconut oil as a leave-in conditioner. I’ll massage a bunch into damp hair, wrap my hair into a bun and leave it in for several hours. Then I shampoo it out with my regular shampoo. It leaves my hair shiny and smooth. I love it.
- Skin moisturizer. I use coconut oil on my entire body and to moisturize and my kids’ entire bodies too. My youngest child is 3 years old and still sucks his thumb (again, topic for another blog entry). He gets a nasty callous on his thumb, but I’ve never wanted to put anything on it, in fear that he would ingest the lotion/balm when he sucked his thumb. The coconut oil is perfect – I can put as much as I want on that thumb and not worry.My second son (4 years old) has pretty bad eczema – mostly on his legs – and we had been using different balms and petroleum based lotions for a while. I definitely was not a fan of prolonged daily use of petroleum products on his skin, so I switched to coconut oil for daily use. Its antibacterial properties make me feel better about using it on his skin when he has open sores or scabs. When he has flare-ups, I still have to use steroid creams and petroleum products occasionally, but for daily maintenance, the coconut oil works great.
Tips on using coconut oil
- Only use virgin unrefined organic coconut oil. The closer the product is to the natural food, the better off you are.
- Have separate containers for the kitchen and bath. The jar of coconut oil in my bathroom gets scooped out with my fingers for use on my skin and my kids’ skin. You don’t want that in your food. Keep a separate jar for your kitchen and only dip in a clean spoon to scoop out what you need.
I personally love this coconut oil for my bathroom. It’s plastic container is safer for the bathroom and handling with slippery fingers and the opening is wide enough that you can fit your hand in it to scoop out every last bit.What is your favorite use for coconut oil? I’d love to hear your ideas!