I received these products from LuckyVitamin.com and Nutiva for review; all opinions are my own.
About 5 years ago, when we started cleaning out our kids’ diets, I discovered this amazing ingredient: coconut oil. To those of us who are not allergic, there are countless benefits to this amazing oil, but what kind do you buy? Let’s go through some definitions for coconut oils.
- Refined: Refinement is a process by which the oil is processed from dried coconut meat (copra). Often it is bleached, and many companies use chemicals. Refined oil has less of a coconut taste than virgin.
- Virgin: Also known as unrefined, this is unprocessed and therefore has a better chance of retaining the antioxidants you want from coconuts. It is derived from the fresh – and wet – meat of the coconut. There are a number of ways it can be processed.
- Expeller Pressed: This method of processing virgin coconut oil is the best, and directly turns the meat into oil and quick dries it.
- Wet Milling: This turns the meat into milk first, where it is then heated.
The Benefits of Coconut Oil
Well, there are so many but here’s a few:
- Half the fatty acids in coconut oil are lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid. What’s that good for? It helps kill harmful pathogens like bacteria and fungus.
- It contains MCTs (Medium Chain Triglyceries). The benefits of MCTs may include better fat burning, help with appetite control, can help reduce clotting, lower cholesterol and benefit the immune system.
- It’s versatile. Really, you can do just about anything with coconut oil, from using it to clean your teeth and breath (oil pulling) to creating a base for nontoxic deodorant.
Why Nutiva Is My Favorite Choice
There are so many choices, and after trying numerous brands, we chose Nutiva for the following reasons:
- It’s USDA Organic. We choose certified organic brands as much as possible, even over the Non-GMO Project Verified. That’s because as of this writing, the USDA Organic standard is still one of the most stringent in terms of certifying clean, pesticide-free foods.
- The refined version is as good as the unrefined version. What’s the difference? The unrefined has more coconut flavor, making the unrefined a better choice to cook with when you don’t want a coconut flavor coming through. Refined coconut oil is processed, but Nutiva doesn’t use any chemicals. Instead, they use a certified organic steam refining process so you can feel safe, whatever version you buy.
- Trust. Seeing Nutiva constantly turn up at Mamavation parties and conferences would be enough, but knowing their commitment to the environment and providing real food options to consumers makes me feel good about buying it.
- It’s available and it comes in 54-ounce tubs, which we definitely go through!
Clean Eating Pantry Recommendation: Replacing Staples with Nutiva
Ok, confession: I buy so much Nutiva I should really own stock in them. Here is a sampling of what I buy and how I use it:
- Replace oil for sweet baking or coconut cooking with Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil
My daughter will only eat gluten-free French toast for breakfast, so I can feel good every day that I’m cooking with these healthy items! Not only that, but you can always drop a dollop in your morning coffee and
- Replace butter with Organic Coconut Oil, Buttery Flavor
I’m sorry, but I just don’t like eggs fried in coconut oil…unless it’s this kind! This stuff is so buttery you can actually just put it directly on your toast and feel better about eating healthy fats in your breakfast!
- Replace olive oil with Organic Red Palm Oil, Unrefined
We saute with this quite often. It works well and I don’t really notice a “taste” with it. Still unsure about how to use red palm oil for cooking? No worries. Nutiva has a whole cookbook for you, “17 Ways to Use Unrefined Red Palm Oil” (PDF).
- Replace shortening with Organic Shortening
Ok, this is a favorite to use to create awesome, allergen-free frosting. We often use Cherrybrook Kitchen Chocolate Frosting but it’s not all that chocolate-y, so we doctor it up with Dutch Pressed Cocoa and Nutiva Shortening.
- Replace brown sugar with Coconut Sugar
Not only does coconut sugar have a lower glycemic index than brown sugar, it also contains potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and B vitamins. Try getting that with regular sugar! Now, we’re not saying start eating a lot of this. It still does contain fructose, so like any sweetener, use sparingly …but it’s a better option than brown sugar.
Other Nutiva Recommendations
I genuinely LOVE their Nutiva O’Coconut Organic Coconut Treat, Classic, 8 Pieces snacks, as do my kids, but they are pricy. And, I’m super excited to try their new Organic Hazelnut Spread with Cocoa – coming soon everywhere I hope! And of course, Nutiva also has its own Organic Coconut Flour. so you can round out your entire pantry, as well as hemp and chia products. And if there is one recipe you try with their products, I recommend their Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies – delicious.