Virgin Coconut Oil by Brian and Marianita Shilhavy (Book Review)
This book was written by Brian and Marianita Shilhavy, the founders of Tropical Traditions, a great little coconut oil (and other natural foods) company. If you are interested in learning about the nutrition claims that have been studied with respect to this coconut oil, then this book is a good read.
Getting into more detail, my opinion is varied on the different aspects of this book. Here is a highlight of the positives and negatives from my viewpoint:
Great information, with a touch of bias – Marianita is a nutritionist born, raised, and studied in the Philippines, while Brian is American born, with a passion for the Philippine way of life, and obviously for coconut oil. Upfront, I will say that their story is fascinating to read. This pair adamantly believes in the powers of coconut oil and I have no reason to argue. Their book goes into detail on both scientific studies and population observations with respect to the almighty coconut, explaining the various benefits, how it fits into a healthy diet, and dispelling myths. I am not here to give you my opinion on what I believe is true or untrue, as I think it is best to read for yourself and make your own decisions. And I will say I definitely learned a few new things in reading this book.
Nonetheless, it is a one-sided report … and any food that claims the infallible “superfood” status causes me to pause; particularly when it is written by a company that produces the superfood. Also, I found the promotion of their company and methods throughout the book to be a bit much. A simple mention of their company and product quality in a few prominent spots throughout the book would certainly gain them many sales without being overwhelming. But the continuous mentions and discussions made me feel at times like I was reading a promotional booklet. As someone who hates a hard sale, it almost deterred me a bit from wanting to buy their coconut oil. Luckily, I felt the information surrounding this was enough to keep me reading. And since I know that their coconut oil is excellent, I will probably be a customer.
Recipes are good, but limiting – As someone who is dairy-free, I use coconut oil as a rich replacement for butter in many recipes. It has an awesome mouth feel that can’t be rivaled by monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oils. It is fantastic for making spreads, frostings, and for baking and cooking. Yet, this really wasn’t covered in this book of recipes. No “raw” spreads or snacks. No dairy-free baked goods. In fact, their coconut brownies used butter and cream! Actually, many of their recipes used a combination of butter and coconut oil, which to me, would only mask the wonderful richness of the coconut oil.
I did sample the Lime-Cumin Sauce with vegetables and with Mahi Mahi. It was good, but a bit too oily for my tastes (and I am certainly not fat-phobic!). I made it a second time with less oil and it was delightful. Many of the recipes are more like supplemental coconut oil recipes – or recipes that help you incorporate higher amounts of coconut oil into your diet.
So overall, I found the recipe section not very useful for dairy-free consumers who want to learn to enjoy coconut oil rather than dairy in their cooking, baking, and raw snacks (perhaps I should help them out with this a bit?). However, for those looking to supplement coconut oil into their diets in general, there are some very good recipe suggestions.
A bit too forward with beliefs – I found it odd that the Appendix included an 8-page story on “How I found peace with God,” ending with “How you can find peace with God.” Wait a minute, is this a book on coconut oil? I wasn’t sure of the correlation, and think the addition may be a bit offensive to those who are non-religious and just seeking information on coconut oil.
Since this is the first book on coconut oil that I have read, I cannot compare. But overall, from an informational standpoint, I can say it was a fairly good read.