Anyone who knows me well will be aware of my passion for fat. As a nutritionist I find that I am called on almost daily to encourage people to eat it, as beef dripping or lard, chicken schmaltz or goosefat, golden pasture raised butter and raw cream, whole unhomogenised (ideally raw) milk, olive and coconut oil.
People get a furtive look as they think about all these delicious and hitherto forbidden foods and wonder if I am selling some kind of snake oil. They wonder aloud, won't they get fat or develop heart disease? Surely they will pay in some terrible way for enjoying a roast potato cooked in goose fat or a spoonful of cream in their soup? Eating their boiled eggs with a spoonful of butter? Frying their steaks in dripping? It sounds too good to be true.
It is hard to undo all that low fat, polyunsaturated conditioning and trust that your body loves these things because they ARE good for you! Saturated fat promotes a feeling of satisfaction that can prevent overeating on carbohydrate, just to get a sensation of carby fullness at the end of a meal.
Our cells are mostly composed of saturated fats. Eating them enables us to digest and absorb vitamins and minerals from our vegetables (and the small amounts of fruit we eat if we're sensible) and grains. They facilitate absorption of omega 3 and 6 fats found in monounsaturated oils such as olive, flaxseed and fish oils. Leaving them out of your diet actually promotes the sort of inflammation that causes many modern diseases.
My new saturated friend is coconut oil. For a while there, coconut products seemed to upset my system, but when I cut down on the fruit, honey and dark chocolate, there seemed to be a coconut shaped space left in my diet. So I welcomed coconut oil, milk and flour back into my life.
Some of you may know of an organisation called Coconut Connections that promotes the healing power of coconut? They boast literature with titles like; 'the coconut miracle', 'coconut oil, the way of the future' and 'how coconut saved my marriage' (ok I'm making them up - but you know the sort of thing?). Coconut's wonder properties of metabolism boosting, antimicrobal action, skin soothing and multi faceted uses as oil, milk, flour, sugar and nut seem to inspire a sort of religious fanaticism in some.
We first became aware of Coconut Connections years ago when the mother of a friend became convinced that coconut was the next saviour. This mother was already fairly fanatically Catholic and prone to enthusastic preaching on whatever righteous subject she got her teeth into.
To cope with the coconut onslaught, our friend turned to humour. Coconut Connections became our shorthand for lunatic fervour, and we laughed heartily whenever we spoke about anything coconut related.
As my own fervor increased I became aware that I might become the subject of ridicule every time I said to Nick, 'Coconut is also really great for.... (insert anything you hope for - better skin, longer legs, a faster car, George Clooney)'. He rolled his eyes and said, "Coconut Connections?"
Risking the inevitable ribbing, I even started to put coconut oil on my skin! I have a tendency to get a little eczema rash on my cheeks when I'm stressed ( I put it down to the chinese lung/adrenal/cheek connection) and putting coconut oil on it, gave an instant calming feeling and super softness to the sore patches.
That night, all oiled and ready for bed, I turned over for a goodnight kiss from my darling and was met with an expression of significant disgust. Not at all what I had hoped for!
He sniffed my cheeks and reeled back, "Eurg! You smell of inner tubes. Coconutty, slightly sour, rubbery inner tubes!".
My heart sank and I suppressed a desire to tell him that he had a new growth of ear sprouts and a few extra long eyebrow hairs tickling my face. He held his breath and gave me a goodnight kiss, as though the smell might be catching.
In the morning I offered my cheek to Finley's nose - as he is renowned for his unstinting honesty about any imperfections I might have. He proclaimed it inoffensively coconutty. Hmmm.
The moral of this story? Saturated fat rocks! Coconut oil rocks! Just try not to get too religious about it ok?
Anyone wanting to get a little more coconut in their life, might like to try these Coconut & Teff Pitta Breads - delicious spread with some coconut oil and a little mashed ripe banana!