10 surprising ways you can use coconut oil

You know coconut oil tastes good, but what about its other uses? Read on for 10 new ways to use this rich oil every day plus, get a yummy yam frites recipe!

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Coconut oil is one of my favourite ingredients and I use it in so many different ways. Not only is coconut oil great for your health when consumed, it’s also nourishing when applied to your skin. Aside from using it for vegan baking, I’ve listed 10 other reasons you should keep this super-product in your house:

1. It can be put into smoothies for an energy boost pre- and post-workout
Coconut oil is made of medium-chain fats that breakdown really easily and give you loads of energy.

2. It can be spread onto whole grain toast…
Or used anywhere instead of butter. Put it in a muffin recipe for a healthy fat boost.

3. It can be heated at a high temperature for stir-frying, baking and broiling
Heating coconut oil to high temperatures won’t destroy its nutrients and it’s great for making homemade yam fries (see recipe below).

4. It’s very shelf-stable
As long as the jar is sealed tightly, coconut oil can stay in the cupboard or fridge for a year. Keep in mind, if it’s in the fridge, it will become solid and will need about 30 minutes of heat to soften. It can go from a liquid to a solid continuously and won’t go rancid.

5. It’s great in raw recipes, pies and cakes
Coconut oil binds ingredients together and gives a creamy texture. Its melt-in-your-mouth flavour is perfect for desserts.

6. It can be used as a moisturizer
Coconut oil soothes chapped skin and lips, moisturizes the cracks in your feet, hands and elbows and is wonderful post-shave for some seriously smooth legs! The thick consistency goes a long way, so be sure not to use too much.

7. Use it in your hair and as a scalp treatment
Coconut oil is fantastic for split ends. Apply it to dry hair and let sit for about an hour. You may want to put a shower cap over your hair for further penetration. Shampoo thoroughly (you likely won’t need to condition afterwards) and style as usual. Your locks will be silky smooth and have a yummy coconut smell.

8. It’s great for anti-aging
Coconut oil not only moisturizes your skin but it’s also helpful in treating acne and eczema as it has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that help to diminish these skin conditions. If you’re using it in the morning be sure to apply a sunscreen as well because adding sheen to your face will attract the sun, which we don’t want.

9. It offers (mild) sun protection
Though it doesn’t offer the recommended minimum for sun protection, coconut oil does have a natural SPF of about seven. And while it’s not a sunscreen, it can help to soothe and nourish your skin.

Use it as an after-sun soother, on burns or dry and dehydrated skin. It gives you a natural coconut scent instead of an artificial fragrance as well.

10. It’s the best makeup remover ever
Take off makeup in one or two wipes, and nourish your delicate eye area, with a dab of coconut oil on your fingers. I recommend testing a small area on the inside of your arm first to ensure you don’t have an allergy.

If you’re new to using coconut oil in cooking, try this easy yam-fry recipe and let me know what you think!

Sweet potato fries
Garlic oregano yam fries recipe

Ingredients:
2-4 medium yams or sweet potatoes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-4 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1½ tablespoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Sea salt to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut yams into wedges or chunks.
2. In a bowl, combine the garlic, pumpkin seeds, oregano, coconut oil, basil and sea salt.
3. Add the yams, stirring with your hands to make sure all of the pieces are covered with the mixture.
4. Spread the yams on a baking tray that’s lightly oiled with coconut oil.
5. Bake for about 45 minutes, or if you prefer them crispier, leave in oven for an extra 10 minutes.

Follow the jump for more surprising things you can do with coconut oil.

Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.

*Article originally published September, 2012.