If you’re like me, the thought often associated with coconut was “fruit” not flour.
Before recently, the idea of making flour out of coconut meat would never have occurred to me. On the other hand, to my children, the term coconut flour is commonplace. A bit like cell phones, though, this invention didn’t seem to exist in my childhood. But I digress.
What are the benefits of coconut flour?
- Coconut flour is gluten free.
Gluten is a protein molecule found in certain grains – mainly wheat – but others as well: barley, spelt, einkorn, etc. To those intolerant to this protein, due to Celiac or gluten intolerance, eating gluten can have a myriad of negative health consequences (from digestive disturbances to infertility). Coconut flour – since it is not a grain – doesn’t contain gluten.
- Coconut flour is high in fiber.
You might be shocked to learn that coconut flour contains more fiber than wheat bran – almost twice the amount! As you know by now, fiber is – or should be – an important part of your diet. Fiber helps to control blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, help maintain a healthy digestive track, etc. So in short, fiber is a great thing for our bodies.
- Coconut flour is low on the glycemic index.
This means, not only will it not cause your insulin to spike; but it will actually help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. It can also assist in maintaining a healthy weight.
- Coconut flour is high in protein.
Coconut flour contains the same amount of protein as whole wheat flour: 16 grams per cup.
How to Use Coconut Flour?
When baking, it is recommended that you substitute regular wheat flour with no more than 5 to 40% of coconut flour. There are also these simple rules:
- Only replace 5 to 15% of your original flour with coconut flour when baking muffins, bagels, yeast or quick breads.
- For cakes, brownies, and cookies; you can use coconut flour up to 40% of your original flour.
It is possible to use 100% of coconut flour. However, because it lacks gluten, coconut flour does not bind or “stick together” as well. Baked goods often crumble and fall apart unless eggs are added to the recipe.
The rule of thumb for eggs is: one egg per 2 tablespoons-1/4 cup of coconut flour.
If I’m honest, baking with coconut flour can be tricky. When starting out, find established recipes rather than trying to convert your own. It’ll be far less frustrating. Coconut flour can be clumpy because it absorbs a huge amount of liquid, and the end result can be dry.
Due to coconut flour’s high fiber content, it is recommended that you increase the liquid in your recipes anytime they’re converted.
The rule of thumb for liquids is: add equal parts liquid and coconut flour. This means, if you use 1/4 cup of coconut flour you will also use 1/4 cup of liquid. Some bakers (and I am one of them) also suggest adding an adequate amount of fat.
Some people don’t enjoy the strong coconut taste of coconut flour. For me, it depends on the recipes I’m using. While I do use coconut flour often, it’s usually in combination with other gluten free flours. I don’t always care for my baked good to taste like coconut, but occasionally it fits perfectly. Working with this flour can be a bit of a hit or miss, but worth the challenge.
When it comes to health, coconut flour is a wonderful gluten free alternative.