COOKING AND BAKING WITH COCONUT FLOUR
Coconut is a wonderful source to all that is healthy. We’re all aware of the benefits of using coconut water, coconut oil and coconut milk but coconut flour is yet to reach such popularity in the western world.
Coconut flour can be used as a replacement for many types of grain-based flours in cooking and baking. It is a wonderful solution for people with celiac disease as it is gluten free. But gluten free flour is not only beneficial to people who suffer from celiac disease because many people have a gluten sensitivity to some degree. This is because we all create a substance called zonulin in our intestine in response to gluten.
Gluten containing proteins, found in wheat, barley, and rye, can make the gut more ‘holey’, which allows partially digested proteins to enter the bloodstream, agitating the immune system, and promoting inflammation.
In any event, even if you're not specifically following a gluten-free diet, coconut flour offers better health benefits than wheat flour and is easy to use in almost any recipe.
Coconut flour is produced from the flesh of fresh coconuts, after it's been pressed to make coconut milk and most of the oil has been extracted out of it.
The dried flesh is then grated, producing a fine powder-like texture similar to regular flour. It has a mildly sweet coconut flavour and aroma but it will not overcome your recipes, but rather will add a rich texture and natural sweetness.
Coconut flour is very rich in nutrition. Compared with any other grain flour it has the highest percentage of dietary fibre (48%), and it's also a good source of protein and at the same time very low in carbohydrates.
Coconut flour contains 14% coconut oil and is very low in digestible carbohydrates — even lower than some vegetables. If you examine the label on package of coconut flour, you'll find that the 'total carbohydrates' account for roughly 60% of its weight. Most of that is in the form of dietary fibre, complex carbohydrates that the digestive tract can't break down.
Having a low level of carbohydrates and high fibre content make coconut flour also ideal for people who suffer from insulin resistance, including those with diabetes, because it won't cause a spike in blood sugar. Furthermore, the coconut oil it contains is an excellent source of healthy fats. It is rich in lauric acid, which the body converts to monolaurin which has antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal properties. Lauric acid, a healthy saturated fat, is also valued for supporting our immune system.
An additional beneficial agent which is richly available in coconut oil is capric acid, which further protects our body from infections. Using coconut oil in baking may even benefit your waistline due to its medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which are known to arouse our metabolism. It is also known to aid in lowering levels of triglycerides and a reduction in total and LDL cholesterol.
Coconut flour, was traditionally considered to be a "by-product" of coconut milk, was originally sold in the form of coconut meal to farmers, for use in animal feed and as organic fertilizer.
However, once the health benefits became known, together with its versatility for replacing gluten-containing grain flours in recipes, coconut flour was added to the list of superfood for humans.
Coconut flour is very absorbent (a little bit like a sponge) and because of that it can't simply 100% replace grain based flour in every recipe. If, for instance, you substitute one cup of wheat flour with one cup of coconut flour, you may end up with a mixture that's either too dry or falls apart.
Generally speaking, you can easily replace up to 20% of the flour in any recipe with coconut flour, and an equal amount of liquid, without compromising the taste or texture of the end product.
If your objective is gluten free or you’re merely interested in healthier food it is better to use only coconut flour in your recipes. You will need far less coconut flour than grain-based flour, so for every cup of grain-based flour in a recipe use only one-quarter to one-third cup of coconut flour. You should also add in one egg per 30gr of coconut flour to take the replace gluten in helping bind the mixture together.
If you don't have eggs available or if you’re sensitive to eggs, you can replace it with raw honey, hemp powder, chia seeds, or ground flax seeds (one tablespoon in three tablespoons of water makes a substitute for one egg) to bind the coconut flour together.
If you're using coconut flour in a typical grain-based flour recipe, you'll need to employ a bit of trial and error to get the right proportions.
Adding more or less coconut flour will help get the texture you prefer, and adding in the right mix of binding ingredients (such as eggs or flax seed) will ensure the baked good don’t fall apart.
Coconut flour works well as a thickening agent in recipes due to its high absorbency. Try adding coconut flour to soups, stews, or smoothies for a richer texuture.