Coconut oil is one of those ingredients that I want to use more in our cooking at the Crispy Casita. I've heard a lot of buzz about its healthful qualities because of its lauric acid content and proponents' arguments that it increases good cholesterol levels. I have been intrigued about trying some unrefined, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil in my cooking and when the Kelapo Coconut Oil company offered to send an 8 oz. jar my way for sampling, I took them up on it.
The Kelapo Coconut oil is harvested in Sri Lanka and is an organic, trans fat-free product. It is solid at room temperature but quickly melts when the temperature gets above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I used it in lieu of shortening or butter to grease a loaf pan and my skin temperature melted it immediately. It has slight coconut flavor and scent and after perusing the Kelapo blog, I found a recipe from Chef Marcus Samuelsson for a Coconut Tea Bread.
Oddly enough, though this quick bread recipe calls for shredded unsweetened coconut, it didn't include coconut oil, but rather butter. I made the substitution, and subbed in white rice flour and xanthan gum for the all-purpose flour, and the result was really wonderful. Our resident coconut-phobe wouldn't partake, but the rest of the Crispy Crew polished off slices of this moist and chewy bread for breakfast and dessert in short order. It was nutty and full of chewy bits of coconut and we enjoyed it thoroughly.
I'm not an expert on the health aspects of coconut oil, but I have heard such positive things about using coconut oil in baking and cooking. I would reiterate that it is always a good idea to keep fats on the tapered end of the food pyramid or the smallest concentric portion of the food plate or whatever healthy eating food imagery is being pushed about by the Food and Drug Administration these days. To find out more about the properties of coconut oil, I would refer folks to my fellow Gluten Free blogger, The Spunky Coconut, for more information and recipes.
My only reservation in using this tasty product is the price. An eight jar retails for $8.99 on the Kelapo site, making it a much more expensive product than butter ($2.50-$3 a pound) or shortening ($1-2 pound, depending on brand), so this is always going to be a strong consideration with my budget, especially given the higher cost of shopping for our gluten-free foods.