Coconut Oil: Refined vs. Unrefined

I’m in love with the Coco(nut Oil)!

Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil’s fat makeup is very unique in comparison to other oils. As with other oils, coconut oil is 100% fat. The difference between coconut oil and other oils is that it’s fat content is made up of ~60% medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and 40% long-chain triglycerides (LCTs).

In other oils, the majority of triglycerides found are of the long-chain form. LCTs are more likely to be stored in adipose tissue (fat tissue) as they circulate throughout the body (may raise the bad LDL cholesterol, increase risk heart disease, etc) .

MCTs, on the other hand, have the ability to be readily absorbed into the blood stream. Therefore, they are readily burned off as fuel and give you energy. MCTs may have the ability to increase your good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol).

So what is the difference between unrefined and refined coconut oil?

Unrefined:

  • “Virgin or pure”
  • Made from fresh coconut meat
  • Does not require bleaching or additives
  • Has a stronger coconut flavor
  • Shorter Shelf Life versus Refined
  • Lower smoke point of 350F compared to refined coconut oil
  • Richer in phytonutrients/antioxidant content
  • May be considered “less hygienic” due to being untreated (e.g. dirt particles)

Refined:

  • Made from dried coconut meat
  • High heat is used to deodorize and suppress the coconut odor/flavor
  • High heat treatment causes loss of antioxidant content (polyphenols)
  • Additives are used to increase shelf life
  • Higher smoke point of 450F (better for cooking at high temps)
  • May be hydrogenated:
    • Increase trans fats
    • Lower MCTs
    • Increase LCTs
    • Lower good cholesterol (HDL Cholesterol)
    • Increase bad cholesterol (LDL Cholesterol)

Always remember, no matter what the benefits are, too much fat can lead to weight gain. Everything in moderation!

I love using coconut oil for my cooking as I LOVE the flavor and nutritional benefits. I use Nutiva Coconut oil, which is found at Costco and is UNREFINED and organic.

How do I use coconut oil?

-When making homemade popcorn
-In baked goods
-Instead of olive oil in a stir fry
-As a lip moisturizer
-You can also use it as a skin moisturizer and for your hair

Cool study: Information via todaysdietitian.com

To further support the safety of coconut oil, researchers in a randomized clinical trial gave 40 middle-aged Brazilian women with abdominal obesity 2 T of soybean or coconut oil daily for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, both groups lost weight, but only the coconut oil group saw a significant decrease in waist circumference. In the soybean oil group, levels of total and LDL cholesterol significantly increased, while HDL levels decreased, worsening their cardiovascular risk profile.

Vanilla Chia Pudding

Vanilla Chia Pudding

Combine in a lidded container:
2 cups vanilla unsweetened almond milk
6 tbsp chia seeds
2.5 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix with a spoon. Store covered in refrigerator for at least 4 hours before consumption (the longer you wait, the thicker it will become).
The chia will soak up the almond milk, thicken, and create a pudding.

Serve plain, topped with fruit, granola, or however you like it. 

Simple and delicious!

Toasted Coconut Cocoa Bars

Toasted Coconut Cocoa Bars

Bar Ingredients:
3/4 cup ground pecans
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 cup quick cooking oats
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp chia seeds
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp egg whites
2 tbsp almond butter
chocolate chips as desired
For the top:
1/4 cup shredded coconut
2 tbsp creamed coconut, melted

Directions:
1.Preheat oven to 350F.
2.Mix and combine all the bar ingredients.
3.In a greased small pan, pack down the mixture.
4.Sprinkle shredded coconut on top. Melted the creamed coconut and drizzle on top.
5. Bake for ~20 minutes on 350.
6. Let cool. Enjoy 🙂

The lowdown on Quinoa

quinoa facts

Quinoa is an ancient grain with substantial nutritional content, which is why I prefer to choose quinoa over rice and other grain products.

Quinoa contains all 11 essential amino acids therefore, it is a complete protein source (Perfect for vegetarians!). This is rare for plant-based foods.

1/4 cup Quinoa (uncooked) contains 6g of protein versus white rice at 3g of protein per 1/4 cup.

Additionally, quinoa is a great source of iron and fibre.

1/4 cup of quinoa contains 3g fibre whereas 1/4 cup white rice contains 0g.

Quinoa also has a low glycemic index. Keeps you satisfied longer by raising your blood sugars slowly.

Another benefit is that quinoa is gluten-free for those of you who are gluten sensitive.

Another plus…. quinoa tastes good as a salad, in baked goods, hot, cold, puffed, eaten as oatmeal….any way you like!

Carrot Ginger Soup

Carrot Ginger Soup 2

Ingredients:
8 large carrots, skinned, chopped
3.5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable)
2 white onions, chopped
1.5 tbsp minced ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
Pinch of nutmeg
Ground pepper and salt to taste.

Directions:
1. Put chopped carrots in a small pot with water and bring to a boil. Allow to cook thoroughly until soft throughout. When soft, drain the carrots.
2. In a large soup pot, combine chicken broth and onions and bring to a boil. Once boiled, lower to medium heat and add in the cooked carrots.
3. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup mixture until you reach an even puree consistency.
4. Stir in the ginger, garlic, nutmeg, pepper & salt.
5. Allow to simmer on low for ~2 hours.

Carrot Ginger Soup 1

Facts on Popcorn! (MY all-time favourite snack)

popcorn google
I am addicted to popcorn.. and it’s not so bad of a snack after all! (if you make it at home). I have an air pop popper to make my popcorn at home which I strongly recommend if you love popcorn too!

Facts on air-popped popcorn: 

  • It has only ~30 calories per cup
  • It is a whole grain. Whole grains are higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals compared to other refined grains. Whole grains contain all three parts of the kernel.
  • It is low in fat and calories!
  • It is sugar free!
  • Popcorn also contains a source of fiber (1.2g per cup). Fiber is so important for regulating bowel movements and controlling blood sugars (blood glucose).
  • It is also a source of potassium and phosphorus.

My favourite way to eat my air popped popcorn adds a couple more calories 😉 I drizzle maple syrup and ground sea salt on my popcorn for a natural sweet and salty flavour! MMMM

Avoid movie theatre popcorn and flavoured/buttered microwave popcorn as they contain large amounts of added trans fats, saturated fats, and sodium.

Veggie Noodle Pad Thai in an Almond Sauce

Veg Pad Thai

Chicken:
2 chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chili pepper flakes
1 clove garlic
2 tsp soy sauce

Noodles:
1 large zucchini, grated/spiraled
2 large carrots, grated/spiraled
(and other veggies of choice e.g. red cabbage, bean sprouts, etc).
***I picked up a cool grater that spirals your vegetables from Wal-Mart. It’s called a “Veggetti”!***

Spicy Almond Sauce:
2 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp crushed ginger
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp water
2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 tsp ground fresh chili paste (or more if you like the fire!!)

Directions:
1. In a skillet, add 2 tbsp olive oil and bring to medium heat. Add chopped up (bone-less & skinless) chicken breast.
2. Add 1 clove crushed garlic and 1 tsp chili pepper flakes to the skillet.
3. While the chicken is cooking, create your spicy almond sauce by combining all ingredients into a bowl and mixing.
4. When the chicken is cooked (no pink throughout), remove from heat and put in a separate dish.
5. On low-medium heat, put he veggie noodles in the same skillet and heat for ~5 minutes.
6. Add the spicy almond sauce to the skillet and cook for another 5 minutes. Make sure to stir the veggie noodles around to coat them in the sauce.
7. Using tongs, remove the veggie noodles from the skillet and put on your plates. You will notice left over sauce in the skillet… add the chicken back to the skillet and mix/coat with the leftover sauce on medium heat.
8. Add the chicken on top of your veggie noodles. Top with cashews, cilantro, and whatever you desire 🙂