By now, we all know that coconut oil is kind of the unsung hero of your beauty routine. Use it on your hair for extra softness and shine. Rub it on as a moisturizer for glowing skin, or use it as a natural teeth whitener. The benefits of coconut oil are just as amazing as they are numerous, not to mention well-documented, but here's what I want to know: Can you eat coconut oil out of the jar? Excuse me if that sounds like a silly question, but as a person who has food constantly on the brain (constantly on the brain), it seems only natural that I should want to work this miracle serum into my daily diet somehow. And while I love a natural, at-home beauty hack as much as the next woman, I also believe that beauty starts with what you put in your body.
There are, of course, plenty of recipes that use coconut oil. For years, vegans have been singing its praises as a healthier alternative to butter and cream, and the possibilities for using coconut oil in the kitchen are seriously just as endless as its many health benefits. Melt it up and drizzle it over popcorn. Add it to smoothies for an extra immunity boost, or use it in the place of vegetable oil when frying up savory meals. Fold it into batter to make perfect, fluffy muffins, or use it instead of butter to give your burrito bowl an extra kick. See? I told. Endless possibilities.
And that's great — if you want to spend a bunch of time mixing and stirring and baking and cooking. But me? I'm what some might call... a little lazy. I love experimenting with different recipes, but sometimes, I also love grabbing a spoon and the closest jar of peanut butter and calling it dinner (no judgement, please). So as long as you have that giant jar of coconut oil there at your disposal, what would happen if you, uh, just swallowed a little scoop? Cooking is fun and all, but what if you went straight to the raw source, and just ate it plain?
Basically, coconut oil is extracted from the meaty part of a harvested coconut. And while it's completely edible, it's also extremely high in saturated fat. But don't let those two little words scare you off — saturated fats actually have a number of surprising health benefits, when consumed in moderation. Saturated fat can help boost your immunity and fend off harmful bacteria, as well as lower cholesterol and even improve liver health. That being said, saturated fats are often extremely high in calories, and experts recommend that they only make up eight percent of a person's daily calorie intake. That translates into about two tablespoons of the stuff per day, no matter how you choose to consume it.
So I guess if you want to eat coconut oil straight off a spoon, no one's going to stop you! But to me, it also sort of sounds like an (albeit slightly healthier and more delicious) alternative to nibbling at a stick of butter. Still, eating it straight can help you keep from feeling hungry in between meals, and some experts even suggest that doing so might give you a quick and much-needed energy boost.
But if you have the time and the tools, cooking with coconut oil is really the way to go. Need some inspiration? Here are four recipes to get you started.
1. 5-Minute Breakfast Smoothie
Work coconut oil into your morning routine by whipping up this quick and easy smoothie by The Kitchn. Banana, strawberry, and mango make this recipe extra delicious, while a tablespoon of coconut oil and a sprinkling of chia seeds make it a filling way to start the day.
2. Coconut Oil Banana Muffins
Averie Cooks uses coconut oil instead of canola oil for fluffy banana muffins with a unique flavor. These babies are also vegan!
3. Spicy Coconut Sesame Noodles
Coconut oil is the easiest way to give your pasta a flavorful (and vitamin-filled) kick! Follow this recipe by Simply Scratch.
4. Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies
Work coconut oil into the sweetest meal of the day — dessert. Mel's Kitchen Cafe has a chocolate chip cookie recipe starring coconut oil that is to-die-for.
Images: Mel's Kitchen Cafe; Giphy; The Kitchn; Averie Cooks; Simply Scratch; Mel's Kitchen Cafe