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I am a coconut oil convert. Already a self-avowed cuckoo for coconut, I now use it daily, whether it’s in a smoothie, for a saute, in baking and even body works, as it’s the best moisturizer I’ve ever used.

But along with being beneficial in skin and hair care, consider that coconut oil also aids in stress relief, cholesterol level maintenance, weight loss, boosted immune system, proper digestion and regulated metabolism. It also provides relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer, while helping to improve dental quality and bone strength. These benefits of oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and their respective properties, such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, antibacterial and soothing qualities.

You don’t have to take my word for it though. Do a little research on your own and you’ll discover that I’m what talking about is true. And don’t let the fact that coconut oil is high in saturated fat scare you. These fats are triglycerides that work differently than other types of saturated fat in the body. Ironically, despite coconut oil’s high calorie and saturated fat content, some people use it to lose weight and lower cholesterol.

I tell you all of this because today I made oatmeal pecan chocolate chip cookies using half butter and half coconut oil. The flavor and texture of the cookies turned out beautifully and I made enough to freeze so that the cookie jar would never be empty. You can easily swap coconut oil for butter in a 1-to-1 ratio.

The only downside that I can see to using coconut oil in baking is that the end result is terrific and for someone like me, who has no self-control, I ended up eating many more cookies than I should have. Then I took a three-mile walk. Fortunately, I think the coconut oil gave me the energy to do so.

klawson@detroitnews.com

KateLawson14@twitter.com

Chocolate Chip Coconut Oatmeal Chewy

A chewy oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips, shredded coconut and chopped nuts. Great with or without nuts and coconut. You can either use half butter and half coconut oil, all butter or all coconut in these cookies. Adapted from allrecipes.com.

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup coconut oil (or use all butter)

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, coconut oil if using, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture until well blended. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips. pecans and coconut until evenly distributed. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven for a chewy cookie or 14 minutes for a firmer cookie.

Cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet and then remove to wire rack. Cool completely and then store in tightly sealed container. Makes 5 dozen.

Per serving (per cookie): 128 calories; 7 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 49 percent calories from fat); 16 g carbohydrates; 10 g sugar; 10 mg cholesterol; 58 mg sodium; 2 g protein; 1 g fiber.

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