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 Let's Get Tropical with Coconut Oil! 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Chef Teton's Essential Cuisine - 'Making Every Bite Count' by . View all columns in series

It's the coconut's short and medium chain fatty acids with carbon chain lengths of 2 to 6 and 8 to 12, respectively, that still are a requirement for our biochemistry; one that hasn't been met in recent years because of our consumption of trans fats and domestic animals fed grain. All medium-chain fats can enter cells easily, and one of them, lauric acid, according to Dr. Mary Enig, is strong in anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-protozoan, and anti-fungal properties. Capric acid, another of coconut's healing fats, has strong anti-microbial actions. Adding coconut oil regularly to our foods can strengthen our immune system.

A Little Piece of the Tropics for Your Thyroid
With so many chemicals and pesticides in our environment with known negative effects on the thyroid gland, coconut oil is a perfect natural solution. G.W. Crile and his wife found that in the Yucatan, the metabolic rate of the people was 25% higher than people in the U.S. By 1950, it was established that unsaturated fats without a high level of antioxidants suppress the metabolic rate and create hypothyroidism. The more unsaturated an oil is, the more it suppresses tissue response to thyroid hormone and the transport of thyroid hormone to the rest of the body, according to Dr. Raymond Peat, Ph.D. Coconut oil supports thyroid function and thyroid governs metabolic rate, and weight control. Many health practitioners are prescribing a little piece of the tropics: three tablespoons coconut oil per day added to the diet for those with thyroid abnormalities, and they�re finding that over time, the thyroid gland is normalizing itself and the pounds seem to melt off.

Recently published research also shows lipid-normalizing activities, helpful for those with elevated cholesterol and protection against alcohol damage to the liver. Women have discovered a fountain of youth in coconut oil, raving about benefits to the skin's external appearance when applied topically. One woman stated her cosmetologist said she had never seen such rapid improvement in human skin before.

Off the Tree and Into the Kitchen!
Coconut oil's unique taste adds a burst of tropical flavor to traditional wok dishes (simply substitute coconut oil for other oils), sauted vegetable dishes, in smoothies, in muffin and pancake recipes (substitute the oil).

The added benefit of cooking with coconut is that it has a high heat point or smoke point. This means that the oil is stable and will not break down. For cooking, it is fabulous for sauteing eggs, fish and many leafy green vegetables, with the exception of mushrooms, which it is not particularly good with. It is also great to add to soups and top on grains. Using it to spread on hot toast is better than butter! Yum! For baking replace the same amount of butter called for in the recipe.

Find ways to incorporate this restorative food into your life. Go to to learn how to use this delicious oil to soften tough leafy greens like Collard Greens and Kale as well as many other tasty ways to incorporate this restorative food into your current recipes.

Storing Made Easy
Coconut oil is also shelf stable. No need to refrigerate it. It will, however, become liquid in warm temperatures. When storing, it is best to remove a small amount from the larger container and place it in a dish that you use often - refilling that dish as it empties. Keeping it near the stove will help it remain soft for easy use like buttering toast. This way you can grab it easily when cooking, and your frequent use will keep the larger jar from becoming contaminated with smaller food particles. Contaminating it with food particles will begin a process of spoiling the entire jar of the coconut oil If you do refrigerate it, then the contamination will be avoided, but then the coconut oil is difficult to use because it is solid and hard. So, keep a small amount handy that you will use in a short amount of time.

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 About The Author
Susan Teton Campbell, a food professional with over twenty years experience co-authored the Healthy School Lunch Action Guide winning endorsements from USDA, California State Child and Nutrition Department and......moreSusan Campbell
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