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Healthy Vegan Substitute For Coconut Oil

Looking for something that can serve as a substitute in many of the desert recipes that can be found online. Any recommendations?

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  1. What is it you don't like about coconut oil?

    1. I've never personally tried coconut oil, but I've read reviews on how it's not a healthy oil to use. Some say what's written online is a misconception, but I'd rather not take a chance and just stick to tried-and-true ingredients.

      15 Replies
      1. re: SpencerTracy

        It's not wildly better or worse than any other oil as long as it's used in moderation. I second grapeseed oil. It's pricey but has a very mild flavor. I have a variety of oils for different dishes.

        1. re: Hobbert

          Thanks. I'll definitely give grapeseed oil a try.

          Though one thing I forgot to mention is the thickening aspect of coconut oil - which, form what I understand, is part of the reason why most vegans use it for snacks. It doesn't get thick and cloudy like most oils, which will probably be the case with grapeseed oil, I'm assuming, but rather becomes a solid.

          1. re: SpencerTracy

            Yep, that's true. Mine stays solid year round in my kitchen which is about 68-70 degrees and gets hard as a rock in the fridge.

            1. re: Hobbert

              I didn't know that. I thought it only solidified in the fridge.

              I guess I'll have to either use CO or move on the next recipe, though at this point, I'm still open to suggestions if you or anyone else has them.

              Thanks again, Hobbert.

              1. re: SpencerTracy

                If you don't care for coconut oil, add some salt or sugar- it makes a fantastic body scrub :)

        2. re: SpencerTracy

          My cardiologist is who got me started on coconut oil.

          1. re: magiesmom

            And my internist specializes in lipids...he does NOT recommend coconut oil or ANY extracted oil, just gently saying. I do love coconut oil as a skin moisturizer though...have been using it for years!

            1. re: Val

              I give up. I'm going on an indefinite water fast.

              1. re: SpencerTracy

                Just make sure its triple filtered
                ;)

              2. re: Val

                That's fine. You stick with your doc and I will stick with mine.

                1. re: magiesmom

                  yeah I think it's palm oil that's not-so-good-for-you

                    1. re: magiesmom

                      and... (there's another shoe just waiting to succumb to gravity out there)

          2. I would consider grapeseed oil, which is more neutral than EVOO, but don't write off coconut oil. It's gotten a lot of press in the past couple of years, but it is tried and true.

            Ultimately, do what you're comfortable with.

            11 Replies
            1. re: pinehurst

              Thanks, pinehurst.

              And yea', it has gotten a lot of press lately. Though I wonder how far back once can trace the usage of coconut oil.

              1. re: SpencerTracy

                I don't have a scientific answer but I can tell you anecdotally that my nana (born in Cuba) cooked with it in her youth (she began making family meals at age eight!) before leaving for Italy and switching to EVOO. So in Cuba, I'm guessing it's been in common use for a while---at least the 1800's (she was born in the late 1800's)

                1. re: pinehurst

                  Very insightful. Thank you for sharing that. Living testimony is more believable than science sometimes. :)

                  1. re: pinehurst

                    But there are different forms of coconut oil. My understanding is that processed ones, which remain liquid, are worse for you than the virgin form, which is solid below 78F.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      I have never seen a coconut oil that remains liquid. I have refined oil which I use on my skin and it is solid at room temp.

                  2. re: SpencerTracy

                    Coconut oil has been commonly used in Asia, especially in India, for thousands of years. In Ayurveda it's long been considered one of the healthiest oils with which to cook.

                    1. re: ninrn

                      Hi ninrn. Thanks for the input. Can you possibly cite any online sources that can back what you claim?

                        1. re: magiesmom

                          Sheesh...will we ever know the truth? According to the article, though recorded history shows use of coconut oil dating back almost 4,000 years, it's only recently (since 1954) that oils high in saturated fats have been targeted as being the cause for certain diseases. Not sure what to believe, to be honest.

                          1. re: SpencerTracy

                            Research on saturated fat has been focused on animal sources of saturated fat such as full fat dairy, and meats.

                            Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids which are a different composition and are not metabolized the same way as animal sources of saturated fat.
                            Google can help you out, and if you trust dr oz he's a big fan, but unless you consume like 8oz a day or something obscene its a nonissue IMO.

                            1. re: Ttrockwood

                              Oh, I see. I thought all saturated fat was the same. I'll have to Google the differences.

                              Thanks, T. Thanks to you, too, MM, for the link above.

                2. Most vegetable oils are primarily unsaturated and liquid at room temperature. For baking, if a recipe calls for coconut oil it is likely because the solid fat is needed for a crumbly texture or a light, delicate crumb. You can certainly try neutral liquid vegetable oils and in some cases they may be a fine substitute, but I would expect you would not be able to achieve the correct texture in many recipes.

                  Other vegetable fats that are solid at room temperature that I know of are palm oil and cocoa butter.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Truffle Dog

                    Yea', it's the texture I'm thinking will be the "issue" with other oils, so I'll look into palm oil and cocoa butter. Thanks for suggesting both.

                  2. Be careful what recipes you tweak if they use coconut oil.

                    For example, a raw pie crust that is chilled would become solid with coconut oil and a mess that won't hold together with any other oil....

                    I'd say if its a recipe served chilled or cold, or to make "balls" or "bars" swapping would not be wise. For one or two TB in brownies or a cake then i would swap out, no worries.

                    Yes, there is conflicting information available on coconut oil, but everything in moderation has been my point of view.....

                    1 Reply
                    1. Avocado oil. i met a woman who told me about how seed oils are made. bleaching and deodorizing are some of the ways seed oils are made. the only "healthy" oils are made from the fruit, which are coconut, olive and avocado. I like avocado bc it can be heated to a higher temp than olive and also imparts a neutral flavor which coconut and olive can't do.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: trolley

                        I should've mentioned this in my original post, but I was looking for something that solidifies the way coconut oil does. From the looks of it so far, doesn't seem as though there are any (let alone healthy) vegan alternatives that will achieve similar results.

                      2. In general, saturated fats are solid-ish at room temp (coconut oil, butter, lard, Crisco) and unsaturated fats are oil at room temp (olive oil, canola oil, walnut oil, etc). Scientists tried to make unsaturated fats that were solid but that resulted in trans fats which were bad bad bad. So if you want to avoid coconut oil because of the saturated fat, then you basically have to skip the recipe because all other solid fats are going to have a similar amount of saturated fat in them. How dangerous saturated fats are is a fact that is still disputable based on the variety of research, but there is definitely more evidence suggesting that medium chain saturated fat in coconut oil is healthier than other long chain animal-based saturated fats, although that's a negligible point for you since you were looking for vegan anyway. The only other easily available vegan saturated fats are palm oil or cocoa butter (make sure you get food grade), but they are questionable for their own reasons (palm oil is most derived with unsustainable practices, and cocoa butter is going to have a very similar fatty acid profile to coconut butter). So if you're looking to make recipes that need the thickening properties (crusts, fudge, etc) then unrefined coconut oil is the least unhealthy option as far as pure fats go. I actually prefer using coconut butter over coconut oil - coconut butter works exactly the same in recipes, but it's just ground up coconut rather than extracted oil, so it retains some of the nutrients and has a little bit less fat and calories per tbsp (due to being carbs and fat rather than just fat), but this also has a more distinct coconut taste which could affect the final taste of your recipe. You can buy jarred coconut butter or make it yourself by putting shredded unsweetened coconut in a blender or food processor. I hope this helps! -Dietitian

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: mariathewholefoodie

                          Thank you for the detailed reply. And yes, it does help. I'll look into coconut butter right now - might be the way to go.

                          1. re: mariathewholefoodie

                            My understanding is that virgin coconut oil retains as much if the nutrients of coconut butter.

                            1. re: magiesmom

                              Will have to look into that. Thanks.

                          2. I use the Spectrum organic vegetable shortening in all my pastry recipes. Works great.