Coconut Oil as an Alternative to Butter or Shortening

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 9:47
Posted in category General Health, Nutrition

I’ve written several different posts about the ways our diet has evolved since our son was diagnosed with food allergies.  As we all became more conscious about reading labels and being aware of what was in our food for his sake, we began to think more about the way different ingredients were impacting our overall health.

Because of the little guy’s dairy allergy, one of the things that I’ve spent a lot of time experimenting with is finding the best alternative to butter for baking.  One alternative that I had really wanted to try was coconut oil, and when I came across an opportunity to sample and blog about Tropical Traditions organic Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, it was perfect timing.

Since my biggest challenge at home is butter and shortening in baked goods, I’ve focused on trying out the Tropical Traditions coconut oil in three of my favorite recipes – corn bread, pumpkin bread and brownies.  Obviously, this is hardly health food, but I wanted to see how the oil would really fare in things I make pretty regularly.

First up was pumpkin  bread, because my garden generously produced a ripe pumpikin in the middle of August . . .  I have two recipes that are nearly identical, except one calls for vegetable oil, and the other calls for shortening.  I decided the coconut oil would be perfect in this case, because the recipe works well with either a liquid or solid fat, and let me tell you, the results were perfect!  The bread was very moist, and the rich spices covered any hint of cocunut smell or flavor.

Next I tried Tropical Traditions coconut oil as a substitute for vegetable oil in my favorite sweet cornbread recipe.  This time I melted the coconut oil by setting my measuring cup in a bowl of hot water, and the results were great.  There was a hint of coconut flavor to the cornbread, but I honestly don’t think anyone in my family noticed other than me.

Finally, last night, I used coconut oil as a substitute for melted butter in my brownie recipe.  The batter turned out a bit thick because my kitchen was cold and the coconut oil solidified.  The brownies turned out great though, with a nice texture and a good chocolate flavor.

Coconut oil is unique, in that it is a liquid above 76 degrees, and a solid below that temperature.  It is extremely stable, and can last for a couple of years on a shelf in your cupboard, in either the liquid or solid state.  It’s easy to melt, but if you’re looking to substitute for solid butter, you can pop it in your refigerator without a problem.

Coconut oil is rich in medium chain fatty acids.  While the American diet has shifted away from saturated fats in an attempt to combat heart disease, it is interesting to note that certain Polynesian populations which have been studied have a very low incidence of vascular disease, despite their high intake of saturated fats from coconut.

Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut oil is certified organic, and is high in antioxidants.  It is processed by hand, and retains the full smell and flavor of coconuts.  Tropical Traditions also offers a Green Label Virgin Coconut Oil, as well as expeller-pressed varieties.

I’m really glad that I had the chance to try out Tropical Traditions organic Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil in our home.  I was really pleased with the results, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’d like to try coconut oil in their cooking.  I’m looking forward to trying it in more of my favorite recipes, but you can also find coconut oil recipes on the Tropical Traditions website.

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7 Responses to “Coconut Oil as an Alternative to Butter or Shortening”

  1. Brett Borders says:

    September 16th, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Unrefined conconut oil rocks. I use it in many dishes and curries. It smells a little funny cooking, but it tastes good.

  2. Kathy says:

    September 16th, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Do you use the concentrated coconut cream? I got some but not sure how to use it.

  3. Kristie says:

    September 17th, 2009 at 9:06 am

    No. I’ve never used that, but they do list some recipes on the Tropical Traditions website:

  4. Kristie says:

    September 17th, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Mmm. It does sound like it would be good in curry! Thanks for the tip.

  5. Dave says:

    September 18th, 2009 at 8:20 am

    I will try it, thanks for your info :)

  6. Coconut-Oil-Taylor says:

    September 24th, 2009 at 5:15 am

    I agree that coconut oil is ideal as a high-heat cooking oil, a “better than butter” replacement on bread and steamed veggies, or a tasty and nutritious substitute for shortening in baking. Very informative post you have here. Thanks!

  7. Health Benefits of Coconut Oil says:

    April 14th, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    One of the best things about virgin coconut oil is it has a very high heat point; in other words, the fatty acids are not negatively altered when exposed to cooking temperatures. Some oils, such as olive oil, shouldn’t be used in high cooking temperatures for risk of heat damage.