Seasonal Sprouts: Coconut Confusion Lends Culinary Inspiration

by Caroline Carney

Coconut oil has been getting a lot of press lately. The media is making coconut oil out to be the latest miracle substance that is antibacterial, antimicrobial, reduces inflammation, boosts energy, promotes weight loss, and cures any number of diseases. While there certainly is a striking paucity of research to support coconut oil’s purported health benefits, there’s no reason why we can’t enjoy it occasionally.

Because coconut oil is high in saturated fat (one of the rare plant sources), heat cannot easily denature it. This makes coconut oil ideal for cooking and even baking. It lends a sweet, nutty flavor to sautés and is perfect drizzled over popcorn for a treat.

I recently tried a recipe for a Yogurt Tart that called for coconut oil and it turned out wonderfully. The recipe is very flexible and holds up well to experimentation. You can always use olive oil or butter in place of the coconut oil if you’d like.  Swap the flax meal out for some oats or use different citrus zests and juice. Serve with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of toasted coconut.


Yogurt Tart (adapted from
1 cup millet, buckwheat, or whole wheat flour
1/3 cup flax meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup maple syrup
zest of one lemon
3 teaspoons lemon juice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

You will need a one 9-inch tart pan.

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Combine the flour, flax meal, and salt in a medium bowl. In a medium saucepan melt the coconut oil over medium heat, or warm the olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the maple syrup and sugar until combined.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the oil and stir until combined. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture starts to smell nutty.
  4. Once slightly cooled (but don’t let it cool all the way), quickly press the mixture into the tart pans using your fingers so that the crust comes up along the sides of the tart pan. Put in the freezer for about 10 minutes or until cooled and firm.
  5. To make the filling, combine the yogurt, maple syrup, lemon zest juice in a medium mixing bowl. Then stir in the eggs until fully incorporated.
  6. Fill the tart pan just about all the way to the top. Bake for about 20 minutes. The filling should be set and not jiggle in the center. Remove the tart and let it cool. Refrigerate for a couple hours until ready to serve.

Caroline Carney is a second year Nutrition Communication student and is also working towards her Dietetic Internship. She loves to go running along the Charles with friends and to cook delicious, nutrition-minded meals with her amazing husband.

The Friedman Sprout is a monthly student run newspaper that aims to serve the student population at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, prospective students, and alumni. Our mission is to report on newsworthy information that affects the Friedman community including nutrition research, food policy, internship and volunteer opportunities, as well as school events. Our editorial slant is that of sustainability in food and nutrition.

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