It’s actually been a while since I received my complimentary jar of Tropical Traditions Extra Virgin Coconut Oil in the mail–so long, in fact, that I’ve already used up my jarful, and had to rely on the site’s photo to show you what it looks like (empty jars of coconut oil are not the most photogenic subjects).
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you already know that I love cooking with coconut oil and use it frequently. Yes, it is a (mostly) saturated fat, but sat fat has been maligned for too long. As Dr. Joseph Mercola explains here, coconut oil has frequently been confused with hydrogenated oils in the past, but virgin coconut oil isn’t the same as the old, trans-fat laden types. In addition, coconut oil contains lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that can help combat viruses and bacteria (hence its use as an anti-candida food). Mercola also lists some of the other possible benefits of coconut oil, including “promoting heart health. . . supporting your immune system health. . . supporting the proper functioning of your thyroid gland” and “helping to keep your skin healthy and youthful looking.”
Sure, it’s great when food can help maintain or promote good health; but its use as a cooking oil was my primary focus when I first dug my spoon into that glassy white surface in this jar. And I was delighted with what I found inside!
As a cooking oil, coconut oil is ideal in many ways: with a melting point of 76F (24.5 C), it remains firm at room temperature (great when using as a butter substitute, either in baking or spread directly on a piece of toast or muffin). Precisely because of its structure as a saturated fat, it’s a very stable oil and is one of the few considered safe at higher temperatures. You can sauté or bake with coconut oil without fear–it won’t damage easily like polyunsaturated fats (hemp, flax, corn, grapeseed, sunflower, safflower or sesame oil, for example). And–depending on the brand of coconut oil–it tastes really, really good. Happily, Tropical Traditions falls into the “great tasting” category, too.
[I used my coconut oil to make this fudge. What would YOU make?]
Although I used to dislike the taste of coconut when I was a child (it must have had something to do with my mother’s penchant for Roly Poly, a gooey, sickly sweet monstrocity that contained a combination of strawberry jam, Turkish Delight, and shredded coconut), I’ve come to love it in recent years. It took me a while to try out virgin coconut oil (I had been using the refined, albeit organic stuff), but once I did, I was besotted. I found the Tropical Traditions brand to offer a subtle, yet discernible coconut flavor, with an almost sweet scent. It worked well in all the recipes I’ve tried, from cookies to stir-fries to this incredible fudge.
Even though the flavor of this Black Bean Fudge (original recipe courtesy of Kim at Affairs of Living) isn’t meant to be specifically “coconut,” I found that the coconut oil was essential here for the proper texture and the creamy mouthfeel that is so important in a true fudge. The recipe was a godsend when I first began the ACD, as it satisfies the need for something rich and decadent without actually being rich and decadent. And if you can eat chocolate, try it with the cocoa option. Something about the coconut oil and cocoa in combination makes for a magical outcome.
Next time you’re looking for something irresistible yet virtuous (yes, all you single folks out there, I know it’s tough to find), go for this unusual treat.
[Hey. You want a piece of me?]
Black Bean Fudge, adapted from Affairs of Living
1 ounce (30 g) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped, optional (for ACD Stage 1, use unsweetened carob chips)
1-3/4 cups (420 ml) cooked, drained and rinsed black beans (canned beans work best for this recipe)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) coconut oil, soft at room temperature (if it’s really solid, melt it before using)
1/4 cup (60 ml) natural smooth almond butter
1/2 cup (60 g) carob powder
2 Tbsp (30 ml) cocoa powder (for ACD Stage 1, use more carob)
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp (30 ml) yacon syrup, agave nectar or vegetable glycerin
15-25 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to taste
pinch fine sea salt
Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and set aside.
Place chocolate in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until crumbly (there should be no large pieces visible). Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Without washing the processor bowl, add remaining ingredients to the processor and blend until very smooth. Mixture will be thick. Sprinkle with the reserved chocolate and pulse until combined. (If the fudge is too thick to combine the chocolate this way, turn the mixture into a bowl and stir it in by hand).
Transfer fudge mixture to the loaf pan and press down to compress it and push out any air bubbles. Allow to set in the refrigerator for an hour, then cover the top with more plastic and refrigerate until very firm, 2 hours or up to overnight. Slice into squares. Store in refrigerator up to 5 days. May be frozen (defrost overnight in the refrigerator–attempting to defrost this in the microwave will melt the oil and result in a near-liquid mess!).
Suitable for: ACD All stages; refined sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, yeast-free, vegan, low glycemic.
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