Y’all know that I have quite a fondness for sweets and baked goods ~ my belief that “diet” equals lifestyle means that balance and moderation are the keys that allow me to enjoy both. I’m definitely open to using ingredients that will make my favorite treats healthier, as long as I don’t feel that the flavor and texture are compromised. And if some additional healthy benefits get thrown in there – metabolism-boosting fatty acids, anti-oxidants, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties – well, all the better! I’m excited to share a great product with you that I think is going to be a favorite in my kitchen because it fits into my lifestyle philosophy perfectly: CoCoNana Coconut Oil from a brand new company, Nana Solutions.
I’m so happy I got the chance to try CocoNana Coconut Oil! It’s been a great experience for me and some of my awesome blogger buddies. It’s certified 100% Extra Virgin Raw Coconut Oil, made from fresh coconuts, of course. Nana Solutions is a family-owned company in the tropics, and that’s where CoCoNana Coconut Oil comes from. They are committed to growing their natural foods with traditional methods that employ a permaculture philosophy. Permaculture is the development of agricultural ecosystems that (according to their website) “…maximizes self-maintaining and beneficial connections between various plant, insect and animal species in their natural ecosystems. This allows not only a great diversity of plant life to grow…but also allows them to grow without the use of pesticides.”
CoCoNana is the only raw coconut oil on the market right now, and that has to do with the way it is processed from the milk (that comes from the meat of freshly grated coconuts). In a nutshell – sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun! – instead of using methods that involve heat in varying amounts to separate the coconut oil from the water, the oil is extracted from the coconuts by centrifuge, where no heat is involved at all. (It’s also the cleanest way to process the oil, as no solvents are used in processing either.) This is what gives CoCoNana Coconut Oil the ability to be labeled “raw”. The finished oil is snow white, with a light scent and flavor – and this is why I like it so much for baking, as I think I will for cooking as well. CocoNana is also okay for what is termed “personal use” such as a body butter, for oral hygiene, and for hair care.
I’ve used coconut oil in my baking in the past, but I have not been happy with the results because I felt that the flavor profiles were greatly altered by the strong flavor and aroma of regular coconut oils. For example, I’m all about a healthier version of cornbread, and I like coconut, but I don’t actually want my cornbread to taste like coconut.
I decided to try my favorite Zucchini Bread recipe and substitute a part of the oil in the recipe with CoCoNana. I have bags of zucchini in my freezer that I picked and grated last summer, and I love being able to make this bread whenever I have a craving for it! (Having the squash all grated and ready saves time when I’m making the bread too; I just throw it into a colander in the sink and press it to drain the liquid off right before I toss it into the batter.)
One important thing to remember when cooking with coconut oil is that it’s solid, with a melting point of 76F. You’ll need to melt it in order to use it in the batter, but all your other ingredients (eggs, zucchini, etc…) must be at room temperature. If you take your eggs straight out of the refrigerator, the coconut oil will solidify and you’ll have to start over.The melted oil was smooth as silk and not nearly as strongly fragrant as other coconut oils I’ve used. It mixed in perfectly with the eggs, sugar and sunflower oil. You can actually substitute the whole amount of coconut oil for other oils in recipes, but I went the conservative route because I wanted to see how strong the flavor would be – I didn’t want the coconut to overshadow the other flavors in the bread.
I added crushed pineapple (drained) and apple pie spice. You can use cinnamon or allspice (for that really tropical flavor), but the combination of both of those spices along with nutmeg (even add a touch of freshly grated nutmeg for extra oomph) is a really great match for the zucchini, pineapple and coconut oil. I didn’t add shredded coconut or nuts because I wanted to share it with my little granddaughter, but those would certainly be great additions too – as would a mashed banana.
The batter is lovely – you can see all the beautiful colors of the squash, pineapple and lemon…and you’ll smell all the spices with just the faintest touch of coconut. Of course, if you want a stronger flavor, swap out more of the sunflower/vegetable oil with the coconut oil. I think the texture of the bread was pretty much the same – it didn’t bake up quite as high as it normally does but not to the extent that I wasn’t pleased with it.
It really is a pretty bread with a soft, moist texture and wonderful flavor. Between the hubby, the grandbaby and me, the first loaf was almost gone after just one day…good thing the recipe makes two!
Visit the Nana Solutions website for lots more information, and stop by their store too. Sign up for their newsletter and you’ll be in the know about CocoNana and new products that are still to come. The generous folks at Nana Solutions are giving the first 50 people who sign up for said newsletter a coupon for 15% off their next order, so don’t delay!
The best and most efficient pharmacy is within your own system. Robert C. Peale Enjoy!
A tropical take on Zucchini Bread with pineapple, coconut oil and spices!
Author: Sue Burns
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snacks, Quick Breads
Serves: 2 loaves
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. Apple Pie Spice (or 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, ½ tsp. ground allspice and ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup light oil (I used sunflower oil)
½ cup coconut oil (I used CoCoNana), melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2¼ cups granulated sugar
2 cups grated zucchini (approximately 1 large squash), well-drained in a colander
¾ cup (from 1 20 oz. can) crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup shredded coconut (optional)
¾ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Zest of 1 Meyer Lemon
NOTE: it is important to make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature - since coconut oil is solid and must be melted to use in the batter, any cold ingredients will cause the oil to solidify, which will negatively affect the outcome of your bread.
Preheat oven to 325F.
Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
In another large bowl using an electric beater (or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment), combine the eggs, oils, vanilla, and sugar on medium speed until the mixture is smooth.
On low speed, add the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing until the batter is smooth.
Drain the zucchini and pineapple well and stir into the batter with the Meyer Lemon zest.
Add the shredded coconut and nuts, if using.
Divide the batter equally in the two pans.
Bake approximately 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted near the center of the bread comes out clean,
Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely.