Have you ever baked with coconut flour? It's a great grain-free, gluten free, and low carb flour that can be used as a substitute for regular flour or other gluten free flours for those on a grain or gluten free diet or those looking to reduce their carbohydrate intake. It is a flour made from dried coconut meat and is a natural byproduct of making coconut milk. So in this week's What's That?! Wednesday post, we'd like to share some of the Health Benefits of Coconut Flour and 4 Tips for Baking With Coconut Flour.
Gluten & grain free diets are recommended for the increasing number of people who are being diagnosed with food sensitivities, chronic autoimmune diseases, or those with weight loss resistance or hormone imbalances. This flour happens to be one of my favorite flours to work with because it is high in fiber and virtually carbohydrate free, plus it naturally has a sweeter taste than other flours so it's a natural pairing for baked goods! The extra fiber really fills you up, so you eat less and feel more satisfied which is always the goal, especially when it comes to treating yourself to some baked goods, right?!
And you know I cannot write a blog about a food item without sharing some "food as medicine" facts...so here are some of the other...
Health Benefits to Consider When Choosing to Bake with Coconut Flour:
1. Coconut four is high in manganese which supports healthy nervous system function, helps maintain good bone health, supports thyroid function, and helps to maintain proper blood sugar levels. WOW - super important!
2. Coconut flour is a great source of lauric acid, a healthy, saturated fat that promotes good immune health and assists in lowering inflammatory responses in the body when combined with the right amounts of other healthy fats.
4 Tips for Baking with Coconut Flour:
1. A little bit of coconut flour goes a long way!
Because coconut flour is about 60% fiber, it attracts liquids and fats and will expand significantly. This means you CANNOT substitute the same amount of coconut flour in a recipe that calls for brown rice or whole wheat flour. It will be VERY dry and crumbly and will most likely burn and you will not be happy with your coconut flour baking experience. A good general rule is about 20-25% of the amount you would use of regular flour, for example; use 1/4 cup coconut flour if the recipe calls for 1 cup brown rice or all purpose/whole wheat flour.
2. Coconut flour works best when baked with plenty of organic eggs and liquids.
You will notice that most coconut four recipes use lots of eggs, for any recipe using more than 1/2 cup flour, you will generally need 4-6 eggs and at least 1 cup of liquid (like coconut milk, almond milk, hemp milk, regular whole milk, or melted coconut oil). If you are sensitive to eggs or follow a vegan diet, stick with recipes that use a small amount of coconut flour (like under 1/4 cup) and those that typically call for 2 eggs or less. You can use your standard egg replacements (chia seeds + water or ground flaxseed + water). You will also want to increase your liquid fat content in vegan recipes that use coconut flour, so I recommend coconut oil as the best choice to achieve this.
3. Add natural liquid sweeteners to your coconut flour baked goods for a long lasting moist texture.
Because coconut flour really "soaks up" the fat and moisture, I love to add natural liquid or pureed fruits to my coconut flour baked good recipes. Some of my favorites include: honey, 100% pure maple syrup, organic apple sauce, 100% pure pumpkin or squash puree, or some mashed bananas.
4. Coconut flour is best in softer baked goods.
Coconut flour used by itself is not great at developing a crispy texture because of the amount of moisture it can hold, so it is best used in: pancakes, waffles, muffins, cakes, and quick breads. You can also incorporate some baking powder combined with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to help get some more of a rise in your baked goods. To make cookies or anything requiring a crispy texture, I'd suggest mixing coconut flour with other flours and only have it be 20% or so of the total flour used in the recipe.
If baking with coconut flour is new to you, I would suggest starting with some already developed recipes and then as you get more comfortable, and begin to enjoy baking with coconut flour, you can experiment with converting your favorite recipes. Here are a few of my favorite coconut flour recipes to get you stared:
Grain Free Banana-Cinnamon Waffles
Raw Coconut Snack Balls (Under 6 grams of carbs & 3 grams of sugar per serving)
Mini Honey-Lemon Muffins (Under 6 grams of carbs & 4 grams of sugar per serving)
Lastly, when choosing coconut flour, always choose organic. I'm partial to Nutiva Brand & Let's Do Organic Brand, but Bob's Red Mill or other organic varietals are great as well...go for what's on sale! I often order products like these online to save some money and time. Check out the list of coconut flour products, including the ones I mentioned above, available on Amazon by clicking here. I also recently started to use Thrive Market for some products as well and have been very happy with their service...check that out by clicking here.
Please share your comments, questions, and favorite recipes with us below. Happy Baking!
Billie Shellist, FDN-P
I practice functional nutrition, an approach that allows me to look at your entire health history and help you find the "root causes" of your chronic health complaints.
This cuts out the trial and error process and helps you get real symptom relief and resolution!
Food is medicine and knowledge is power -I hope you enjoy my anti-inflammatory recipes which are gluten, dairy, and soy free as well as very low grain and sugar.
If you'd like to heal from the root cause(s) of your chronic symptoms, try starting with a complimentary 15-minute consultation. Click here to request your free session.