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How to use coconut oil

Unrefined, organic coconut oil is a rich, buttery, slightly sweet superfood used for centuries in the tropics. Boasting a high smoke point of 350 degrees, it can replace almost any oil in baking or cooking. Naturally cholesterol free, coconut oil contains healthy medium-chain fatty acids, most notably antibacterial and antiviral lauric acid. Unlike long-chain fatty acids in animal-based saturated fats (which clog arteries and get stored as fat), coconut oil’s good fats get burned for energy and actually lower the risk of heart disease.

Sold in jars in the oil or baking section, coconut oil is solid at room temperature; when warmed, it quickly becomes a clear liquid. Great for people with nut allergies, it keeps for years unrefrigerated.

Instead of butter, stir a tablespoon of coconut oil into hot oatmeal, along with dried cranberries and pecans. Blend it into a smoothie with vanilla yogurt, bananas, and papaya. Or coat your pan with coconut oil when making French toast; it adds a lovely scent without overpowering other flavors.

For a delectable difference, make popcorn with coconut oil. Add 2 tablespoons coconut oil and 1/4 cup popcorn kernels to a pan set over high heat; cover. When kernels start to pop, keep covered and shake over heat until popping slows. Pour popcorn into a bowl; drizzle with a bit more coconut oil and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or salt.

Substitute coconut oil for sesame or olive oil in your next stir-fry with shrimp or tofu, green onions, broccoli, fresh ginger, and cooked brown rice.

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