Happy Thanksgiving beautiful readers! Today I’m so grateful for this new blogging journey, and everyone that’s been continually supportive of my writing. I’m thankful for the ability to dream big and be creative and get inspired by so many people doing amazing things. I’m thankful for my love, my family and friends, and relationships that stand the test of time and distance. I’m thankful for my physical health and strength, and food to keep me going strong. Let’s all de-stress and focus on the things that make our hearts as full as our stomachs today.
I’m gonna be real honest – the world of cooking with coconut is still pretty foreign to me. I mean, I see it all over Instagram and read all about its many health benefits, but I’ve had an aversion to it since the first time I tried cooking with coconut oil. My boyfriend actually did the cooking, and he made a saucy chicken dish that incorporated coconut oil. The final product just had such a strange taste to me. I thought it just could’ve been the recipe itself, but the flavor really turned me off to coconut oil for awhile (seriously, the rest of the jar just sat in our pantry untouched for months).
So last week I decided to give coconut oil another shot, as well as coconut flour and coconut milk – because clearly I’m an all or nothing kinda gal. I made this Chicken and Broccoli Spaghetti Squash Casserole, and overall the recipe turned out great. However, the first time I tried it, the coconut flavor was way too overpowering. I was so disappointed because I was like “ugh, not again! Will I ever like this stuff like everyone else??” Plus I now had a whole casserole that I wasn’t exactly crazy about. The next day’s leftovers had a much more subtle coconut flavor, or maybe it was the mashed potatoes that I mixed in to dilute the flavor. Either way, it got tastier with time.
Since then, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks about cooking with any of the coconut family products.
DO use unrefined coconut oil.
Honestly, this section started out as a recommendation to use refined coconut oil. After seeking advice from my Tone It Up ladies, it was brought to my attention that unrefined coconut oil has a much stronger coconut smell and flavor as opposed to refined coconut oil. Since I was looking for more of a neutral scent and flavor, refined was recommended to me. However, after doing some research on the difference between refined vs. unrefined, I learned that unrefined is definitely the healthier option. This version is healthier because it’s closer to its natural state, given that it has not been processed (this article explains the differences between refined and unrefined in more detail). I was admittedly a little disappointed to dig up this research, since I’m really struggling with the coconut scent and flavor y’all, but I do believe in using the best versions of products.
DON’T feel bad about continuing to use full sticks of butter in recipes.
This Thanksgiving, I think we can all agree that some things just cannot be substituted when it comes to baking holiday dishes or tried and true family recipes. I fully support healthy recipes and substituting when you can, and I also believe in sharing your healthy lifestyle with family and friends! However, some recipes are just honest to goodness better with real butter. Just remember that one buttery, floury, whole milky recipe will not make or break you, but it will be good for the soul.
DO use full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk.
I’m making this recommendation based on what I’ve personally seen referenced in recipes (like this one that I’ve been eyeing as the perfect Thanksgiving dessert). Side note about using coconut milk. It’s such a weird thing to me. Maybe because it’s still so new to me, but this time around I still thought it would be liquidy right off the shelves. Nope. When you open the can it’s solid on top, like you could scrape it off, and underneath is all the liquid, which quickly occurred to me when my spoon went through the solid and slopped the liquid all over my counter. You have to break up the top and mix it really good so it actually turns into more of a milk-like substance. The solid does melt when you heat it up, so I put the 1 cup I needed in the microwave for about 10-20 seconds so it had a better consistency. Still, so strange.
(maybe) DON’T use all of the coconut products at once.
Just a suggestion if you’re starting to substitute coconut in your recipes.
DO use coconut flour, without hesitation.
Although coconut flour can add a slight coconut taste and smell, I don’t think it’s quite as overpowering as coconut oil or milk. Plus, it’s gluten free and overall so much healthier for you with its high fiber and low calories. For more information and a comparison against other flours, check out this web page.
DON’T let one bad coconut experience stop you from continuing to use it.
Like me. Like I said, I was completely turned off by coconut oil after the first time I tried it, but now that I’ve learned a few things since then, I’m willing to keep introducing it into my meals and substituting it for other ingredients occasionally.
Since I definitely don’t claim to be an expert on these things, below are a few links to some additional information. Always keep learning, people.
I’d love to hear from you if you have suggestions for cooking with coconut! What’s your favorite recipe?
Happy cooking! (and more importantly, eating!)