Everything to Know About Coconut Flour: The Grain-Free Superfood
It tastes a little like cake batter, gives your baked goods the most incredibly tender crumb, and is one of the most nutritious flours of all gluten-free alternative flours out there. Meet coconut flour: the grain-free superfood that belongs in your diet, your pantry, and all your dishes from oatmeal all the way down to vegan muffins and even superfood smoothies. Coconut flour is one of the best ingredients to thicken your recipes, and is incredibly easy to use in a variety of recipes. It doesn’t taste as much like coconut as it does vanilla cake batter, which you’ll easily understand from just one whiff of this flour. Do I have your attention yet?
The 411 on Choosing the Best Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is not just for culinary delight (though that’s reason enough alone to enjoy it.) Coconut flour is the new “it” grain-free superfood you have to get your hands on ASAP! But be warned- not all coconut flours are equal. It’s beneficial to choose raw, organic coconut flour when possible since it retains all the live enzymes and other nutrients that coconut contains while other, more processed types of coconut flour may not. Products that are not 100 percent raw are bleached and deodorized, which you can easily see from their brighter, white color. Raw coconut flour has an almost beige tint to it and a much richer scent than highly processed coconut flour does. Products that aren’t organic could be sprayed with pesticides and buying non-GMO coconut flour is important so you know you’re getting the real deal and not a genetically modified product. Just be sure to refrigerate your raw coconut flour to preserve the natural nutrients and prevent spoilage.
Why Raw Coconut Flour is a Superfood
1. Great Grain Replacement
Grains are a healthy food, however, for many, they’re simply intolerable. While whole grains provide key B vitamins, fiber, and protein, some people just don’t digest them well. Coconut flour lends more fiber per two tablespoons than any 1/2 cup serving of grains, more protein, and many of the same B vitamins, along with potassium and magnesium.
As mentioned, coconut flour is filled with protein! Just 1/4 cup provides 7 grams of protein for only 120 calories compared to oats and quinoa, which both provide the same amount of protein for over 160 calories.
Coconut is a well-known antiviral agent, thanks to the lauric and caprylic acids it contains. Both have been linked to improving immune health and warding off harmful bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and viruses.
4. Good for the Brain and Body
Coconut flour retains the beneficial medium chain triglyceride fats that whole coconut contains. These fats, also known as MCT fats, are well-absorbed and easily processed by the liver where they’re used for energy and metabolism instead of for fat storage. MCT fats and coconut have specifically been linked to better brain health, including improved mood, memory, and focus. Coconut, unlike butter, is also cholesterol-free, despite containing saturated fats.
5. Beneficial for Blood Sugar
Because coconut is rich in fiber and protein, it’s incredible for balancing blood sugar levels. Per 1/4 cup, you’ll receive 12 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein, only 3 grams of fat, and 120 calories. Those numbers beat out any grain and most other sources of non-soy plant-based proteins for that matter. Protein and fiber are beneficial for blood sugar levels because they both slow down the release of sugars into the bloodstream. Speaking of sugar, coconut flour is very low in sugar and carbohydrates compared to most all grain-based flours and all other grain-free alternative flours. After the fiber is subtracted from the overall carbohydrate count, coconut flour only has 1 gram of carbs total per 2 tablespoons, which comes only from the natural sugars found in coconut meat. Protein and fiber in coconut also contribute to a higher sense of satiety, which will help keep you fuller longer.
How to Use Coconut Flour
Coconut flour can be used in almost anything you can think of! Try out some of these awesome suggestions:
(1) Stir 2 tablespoons into oatmeal to thicken it, make it creamier, and enhance the natural sweetness found in oats. Or, use it in quinoa and millet porridge for a grain-free option. Coconut flour gives your porridge a delicious cake-like flavor that’s fantastic! Just add a little more non-dairy milk so it dissolves properly.
(2) Add 1/4 cup coconut flour to your smoothies to use as a protein supplement, or just to add more taste and a thicker texture.
(3) Stir it into hot soups to thicken and give your soups a bread-like consistency. Think of it as a grain-free alternative to pot-pie!
(4) Bake biscuits with it and coconut oil as a replacement to regular flour and dairy butter.
(5) Make an instant pudding with it using coconut flour, non-dairy milk, ground flax, chia, vanilla extract, and some vegan yogurt. Add some stevia if you need extra sweetness without the need for added sugars.
Things to Know About Baking With Coconut Flour:
- As mentioned, coconut flour is an incredible thickener due to its high protein and fiber content, so be sure you’re aware of this before using it in your recipes. You’ll only need 1/2 the amount of coconut flour you would of regular flour, and will need to double the amount of egg substitute you use. Add a touch of baking soda if it’s not called for. This will help your goods rise well without the use of gluten flours and eggs. These Holiday Chocolate Coconut Cookies and Coconut Flour Gluten-Free Brownies are two great ways to try coconut flour out.
- Coconut flour also absorbs liquid to a much greater extent than other gluten-free flours. You’ll need to double the liquid called for in the recipe so it will work correctly.
- Be sure to sift your coconut flour in a bowl with fork with the other dry ingredients before baking with it, so it will blend evenly with other ingredients.
- Try it in a raw recipe if you don’t enjoy baking with it. Coconut flour works well in truffles, and a variety of other coconut-based recipes.
Give this new superfood flour a try this week. You won’t believe how much you’ve been missing out on!
Image Source: Heather McClees