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Friday Favorite: Tropical Traditions + giveaway

February 11th, 2011

A few years ago, as we were transitioning to Real Food, I read Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. We’d been using some coconut oil on occasion before this, but we started using more after reading this book. Once you start reading up on the health benefits of coconut oil it seems like a wonder food, it does everything from boosting your immune system to lowering your bad cholesterol. I won’t go into all the details and health benefits of coconut oil here, I’ll add some links to the bottom of this post if you’re interested. I have to say, since we nixed other oils in our diets for coconut oil and butter several years ago we haven’t had to deal with colds or the flu, now I’m a big believer in the immune boosting properties of butter and coconut oil.

We use coconut oil as one of our main cooking fats, along with local pastured butter and organic olive oil. Coconut oil has a higher smoking point than olive oil and butter, so it’s very useful in high heat cooking. It makes the best popcorn when mixed with ghee and you can’t beat potatoes fried in coconut oil. I’ve tried many different brands of coconut oil, and a few different varieties before finding Tropical Traditions and falling in love with their products. I have many of their products in my pantry: Gold Label Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil, Coconut Cream, Shredded Coconut and I also get my tuna from them and I love them all – if you’re looking for great quality coconut products look no further.

I use the various Tropical Traditions products for different things. The Gold Label Extra Virgin is a fragrant coconut oil, meaning that is smells of coconut and infuses food with a slight coconut flavor. If you’ve ever tried using it for cooking mushrooms or something you quickly realize that it works in some applications and not others. I do not like the virgin oil when it comes to frying potatoes, mushrooms, onions or other savory type applications. It does however work beautifully in baked goods where a hint of coconut enhances the flavor. I use the Virgin Coconut oil in my healthy carrot oatmeal bites. It also makes basmati rice taste exotic and tropical. Simple add one Tablespoon for each cup of rice and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how delicious the rice is.

If you want to cook savory items, like mushrooms, that you don’t want to have that coconut taste, you’ll want to use expeller pressed coconut oil. This imparts no coconut flavor whatsoever. If you’re averted to coconut in any way, this is the coconut oil for you. You can still enjoy the health benefits without the coconut flavor. I also love their coconut cream, which is simply ground coconut. It has the most wonderful coconut flavor. I eat it by the spoonful and slather it on my toast. I hear you can also use it to make coconut milk, but since I have a bunch of coconut oil in my pantry I haven’t tried this yet.

Another benefit of coconut oil is that you can use it as a skin lotion. Coconut oil is supposed to help in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections. It works wonders for my skin, keeping me from getting the dry flakiness that I used to get in the winter. I’ve also read that your skin absorbs some of the health benefits of the oil when you use it topically – bonus. I use coconut oil on my hair, it keeps it shiny and soft. You have to play around a little to find what amount works for you. I often put it on before going to bed at night and wash it out in the morning, I also use a tiny amount after washing for a conditioner and shine enhancer.

Coconut oil also comes in very handy for seasoning cutting boards and wooden spoons. Melt some coconut oil in a small cast iron skillet, add a thin layer to spoons and boards, then put them in the oven on low (170) for 30 minutes. They will absorb the oil, if they’re really dry you can repeat this process several times until they quit soaking it up. I do this at least once a month to keep my wooden cooking utensils in tip top shape.

I love it when I can use one product for so many different things. When you live in a small house, being able to use the same product for hand cream, hair conditioner, wooden utensil seasoning and cooking is a big bonus. Not to mention it’s a very inexpensive non-toxic option for all these uses! I am also experimenting with using coconut oil as a wood furniture polish and a few other applications, I’ll let you know when I come across another great use.

Now on to the good stuff. Tropical Traditions is giving away one 32 oz jar of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil to one lucky reader. Comment below for your chance to win.**winner chosen** They’re always having great sales as well, I usually watch for their sale e-mails and follow them on Twitter and buy a year’s worth when they have a good sale. You can sign up for their sale e-mails and follow them on Twitter for the latest info. Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions did give me a jar of their coconut oil, but I’ve been purchasing their oil for several years now. I wouldn’t lead you astray and tell you to buy something I’m not willing to spend my own hard earned money on.

**The Captain’s Wife has won a jar Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil. Her comment was so great, I love the story. Head on over to her blog to read more about her life as a Navy Captain’s Wife.

Are you a coconut oil convert? What kind of cooking fat is used most often in your kitchen?

Organic Facts: Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
Livestrong: What is Virgin Coconut Oil?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.