A few weeks ago, I was sent a giant jar of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil.
And when I say giant…I mean GIANT.
What makes the Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil so special? Well, according to their website, this oil is truly unrefined and comes from hand-picked coconuts grown on small family farms in the Quezon Province of the Phillipines, where volcanic soil helps to make this some of the most nutritionally rich in the world.
To be honest, I often get all of my health claims confused, and what I care most about isn’t whether or not the saturated fat is going to help or harm me, but the fact that if I’m going to use oil in my cooking, I’m happy it is coming from a source where it is not mass produced and part of a hundred years long tradition of family-run cold-pressing.
Also, I care about the fact that it was free. And there is so much of it.
I feel like I’ve been coooking and concocting coconut oil creations for days now, and I’ve hardly made a dent in the jar. Regardless, as it has been a theme of my culinary life recently, I figured the best way to reveal some of the coconutty treats was in a Tropical Traditions sponsored What I Ate Wednesday post. [Thank you, Jenn, for letting me sell out a bit today.]I have to admit, I was excited about the possibilities for coconut oil uses that catapaulted through my brain. Having never actually used coconut oil in my cooking–despite having made homemade coconut butter on more than one occasion–I couldn’t wait to get started.
Although hearing the words “coconut oil” might inspire you to feel the need to coat yourself in the stuff, lay out on a beach, and then use some more to whip up a colada or two (or three or four), the most interesting characteristic of coconut oil is that when heated in a saute pan it doesn’t actually taste all that much like coconut.There might be a hint of it in the background, but really all it does is add a sort of brightness to your veggies. It’s almost like the sunshine you imagine that permeates the climate where the coconuts are grown has infiltrated your spinach and mushrooms. Sounds strange–or should I say (coco)nutty?–but it’s true.My roommate was the one who actually first let me sample some coconut oil-cooked spinach and I really enjoyed the surprising, slightly sweet note it added. My roommate also was the one who turned me on to stirring a little coconut oil into your oatmeal while it is cooking (and maybe a little more when it’s finished?).This mess of oatmeal, flax seed, maca root powder, cinnamon, chopped apples, and date pieces (along with, of course, coconut oil) not only smelled like an oatmeal cookie while it cooked, it tasted a bit like a caramel apple thanks to the maca powder. It also gave me an insane amount of energy to get through my cooking class at Whole Foods on Monday night.The label provides a note for the uninitiated about coconut oil solidifying at temperatures less than 78 degrees. What they don’t remark upon is how psychadelic it looks in the jar because of this state-changing phenomenon that would captivate a 5th grade science class (or 5th grade science teacher ).Good thing coconut oil is easy enough to smooth out into a looser consistency…a trick I utilized when I randomly decided it might be fun to mix into a half empty jar of homemade cashew butter.Hey, (Maple) Coconut Peanut Butter was one of my best nut butter experiments EVER, so I could only believe coconut cashew butter had the potential to be even more incredible.
And I was right.
I wish I could say that I came up with some crazy Coconut Cashew Butter sandwich with this, or even drizzled it on top of some oatmeal…but…well…it was gone within two hours. (I’m not proud. But it happens.)In continuing with the fun ‘let’s change the state of this coconut matter’ science experiments, I also decided to see what happened if I heated the oil so that it wasn’t just warm…but hot. Enter the microwave and the resulting coconut glazed bananas atop my nightly bowl of cereal.And yes, the leaning tower of
Pisa bananas was subsequently covered with a deluge of unsweetened vanilla almond milk. (And yes, I went back and refilled the bowl.)One last experiment I wanted to try was inspired by a little tidbit of information I’d been holding on to since I lived in Austin. Someone had mentioned to me at some point that mixing coconut oil with miso resulted in butter. Well, at least buttery flavor.I mixed about equal parts mellow white miso with coconut oil ‘meat,’ and wouldn’t you know…it tasted like salty, creamy butter. [My roommate said it "was a little more intense than butter in the follow through."] Perhaps a little less miso if you want an unsalted buttery flavor?
In continuing my efforts to prove that coconut oil is not just for papaya anymore,* I used my vegan butter creation to make a rather savory dish of–what else?–(previously frozen) butternut squash.
*Feel free to substitute papaya for any other tropical fruit you so choose.Along with some dried rosemary and sage, I stirred in some spinach at the last minute due to make a meal without something green involved (unless it is oatmeal or cereal in essence…and even then, it’s a struggle).I used the leftover, unbaked remnants of the Herbed Quinoa Crust from my Whole Foods cooking class to make a sort of pie crust, which was baked for 20 minutes and very happily topped with the “buttery” butternut and spinach.What’s next for my giant-sized jar of coconut oil and me? Well…I have heard awesome things about popping popcorn in coconut oil…
But now I must ask…Would you like to get your hands on a GIANT quart-sized jar of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut for your own coconutty experiments in the kitchen?
Lucky you! The company has offered to give one of my sweet Smart Kitchen subscribers (or fair weather friends…I don’t discriminate) a jar of his or her very own. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me your favorite way to use coconut oil AND subscribe to the Tropical Traditions Special Sales newsletter here.* [I'll pick a winner on, let's say....Monday?]
*And yes, y’all, I have inquired as to the ease of later unsubscribing. They assure me that you can do so immediately upon logging in for the first time if you wish to do so. But you might as well look around the site first. After all, they, too make their own coconut peanut butter.
For optional additional entries, you may do one (or all) of the following:
Be awesome. (Oh wait, that’s all y’all….)
Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.