Good morning! Today I’m going to be talking about one of my kitchen staples: coconut oil.

barleans coconut oilI first got turned on to coconut oil back in 2010 when I was volunteering at a comprehensive care center for HIV patients. The integrative medicine doctor (also an infectious disease attending physician) I worked with was from India and had studied Ayurveda, and she turned me on to a lot of food, herbs, and home remedies I still use. Coconut oil was one of those things. It’s perfect for baked goods, thanks to its rich texture and flavor. I’ve written about coconut oil on here so many times, a lot of you guys would be, like, “Okay, whatever Jess—we get it. You dig coconut oil.”

A few reasons:

-It’s true that coconut oil is high in saturated fat, but the specific type of fatty acid in coconut oil, medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), are metabolized differently in the body than the longer-chain fatty acids in meats, dairy products, and vegetable oils.  Some studies have suggested the MCTs may raise our HDL (“good”) cholesterol, but the American Heart Association still recommends capping off intake at about 1 tablespoon per day, as it may still raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

-There is also a lot of research being done on potential neuroprotective effects of coconut oil. I get a lot of questions from my ALS patients about this, in particular. Though there isn’t enough evidence right now to conclusively say, “Yes, this will help your brain,” getting adequate dietary fat, in general, is important for optimal wellness, including neurological function.

-For people on a vegan diet or who can’t tolerate dairy, coconut oil makes a fantastic stand-in for butter, since it is solid at room temperature and has a mild flavor that’s palatable in baked goods and the like. It’s also great for high-heat cooking because it has a high smoke point.

-I use it as a moisturizer instead of body lotion. Love it.

-Though coconut oil has been touted as a weight-loss aid based on the notion that the body utilizes these MCTs more readily than other fatty acids, it’s still a calorie-dense food (120 calories per tablespoon), and still needs to be kept in the context of your daily intake.

Barlean’s recently sent me some of their flax and coconut products to try. Aside from making delicious, healthy products, I love that a portion of the company’s profits go to charity as a part of their “Pathway to a Better Life” program. I also have to love their sense of humor.

barleans flax oil bag

Their products are certified organic non-GMO, and certified Kosher. Their fish oil supplements have also met the International Fish Oil Standards’ top 5-star rating for potency of purity from contaminants. You can read more about their products and certifications here.

I used Barlean’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil to make this single-serve dessert recently. Sometimes when I have the time, I like to make myself a proper dessert. Well, proper for me, seeing as I am dessert-challenged. Honest-to-goodness pastry stuff is way too much like chemistry class for me.

Fruit-based desserts are actually quite easy to make and happen to be fairly healthy—no magic tricks required. My favorite way to enjoy this is with a generous spoonful of plain Greek or Icelandic yogurt, but a little vanilla ice cream or whipped cream are more classic toppings. In this recipe, I decided to take it a step further and add some peanut butter flour to the mixture for a new take on PB & J.

PB&J blueberry crisp

Single-Serve PB & J Blueberry Crisp (a mini version of this recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 a lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon rolled oats
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek or Icelandic yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter powder (like PB2)
  • 1-2 teaspoons water (if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon jelly

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine blueberries, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small, microwave-safe baking dish.
  3. In a small bowl, mix coconut flour, oats, sea salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Add coconut oil and vanilla to flour mixture to make crumbly topping.
  5. Scatter crumble over berries.
  6. Bake until topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbling, about 33-35 minutes.
  7. To make topping, mix yogurt, peanut butter powder, and water.
  8. Top crisp with peanut butter yogurt and add jelly.

Do you ever make desserts at home? 

Disclosure:  I’m partnering with Stonyfield as a member of their Clean Plate Club. I received this product for review, all opinions are my own. 

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