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Picture this … you open your bathroom cabinet, remove a jar, and massage a scoop of the oily contents to your face. Hop in the shower and apply the oil to your hair. Out of the shower you head to the kitchen, take another scoop, drop it in a wok and cook your stir-fry. Strange, I know, but such is the way, with coconut oil!
Rarely has a food gone through as dramatic a transformation from dietary villain to superhero as coconut oil and, indeed, all things coconut. Now I’m not going to start shouting about the health benefits, and it certainly shouldn’t be used to replace your entire oil intake, or even the majority of it. Nevertheless, there does seem to be some evidence of its benefits, in modest amounts. Bizarrely, a scientific study did show that whilst it doesn’t necessarily produce more weight loss when compared with using, say, Palm Oil (in a controlled diet with exercise), it does seem to reduce waist size more. Quite how or why, remains a mystery!
That’s the science out the way, so on to the good stuff… just spread some of this on your toasted bagels, and you’ll see what I mean! It is certainly a boost in the kitchen, you can think of it like toasted sesame oil and use it in small amounts to flavour your dishes, and since stir-frying only requires a tiny amount, it’s great for that too, providing a slightly sweet but not overpowering under note. I also like coconut oil for sautéing vegetables and aromatics, especially onions. They absorb the sweetness of the oil and pass that lovely nuance on to the whole dish.
It copes easily with high temperatures, so is better than many other oils, in this respect. Like butter, it stays solid when cool, then softens at room temperature, so it’s a great addition to your baking to replace some of your butter.
You may have already made the switch to coconut oil in the kitchen, but did you know you can also swap out some of your beauty products for the wonder oil? This do-it-all ingredient can be used to moisturise skin and remove makeup, but that's just the beginning. Although it may be butter-like in the kitchen, Virgin Coconut Oil is thin and isn’t sticky or greasy, being readily absorbed by the body. That’s why it’s ideal for massaging and superb as tanning oil.
'Nikki Reed cooks up some yummy drinks during the launch of Vita Coco Coconut Oil at Haven's Kitchen in Chelsea, New York City'
Whilst enjoying a manicure last week I asked the young assistant how she got her hair so glossy – “coconut oil” she replied. Coconut oil helps restore moisture to dry and damaged hair, in turn making it shiny and healthy. Apply straight to the hair and use as a mask; leave for 30 minutes, then rinse off with a mild shampoo. Smells divine, without being overpowering. It certainly beats eggs – pardon the pun – when you accidentally rinse off with hot water, and end up with an omelette matted in your hair!
No matter how incredible, or otherwise, coconut oil may turn out to be, it’s important to remember that there’s a huge difference between organic virgin products such as is Vita Coco, and bog-standard hydrogenated coconut oil, which would be unhealthy to cook with and is highly unlikely to make your hair shine, at least not in the way that you’re hoping.
Give it a go, and let me know what you think. You’ll be amazed!