Coconut flour has become the new “it” food. Packed with nutrients, it can be found in an array of food items from pancakes to muffins, offering a healthy alternative for those who follow a gluten-free and paleo lifestyle.
Coconut flour is made by drying and finely grinding coconut meat, and is the natural byproduct of coconut milk production. Coconut flour is high in dietary fiber, protein and specialized fats, and is a naturally gluten-free food. It is also low in sugar and calories, making it the perfect food for balancing blood sugar and maintaining a healthy weight.
The best part? The taste. Coconut flour provides a relatively neutral base for both sweet and savory recipes and does not overpower other flavors. It does have a slightly sweet flavor – which we just feels adds an extra dimension to our favorite baked goods. One thing to note, though, is its density. While seemingly light and airy, once baked it can be quite heavy and dry – so make sure to add extra ingredients that increase moisture (like eggs or applesauce).
Not sold on the nutrient profile and taste factor alone? Here are five other reasons to switch your wheat flour for coconut and start adding this incredible superfood into your diet…
Coconuts have a very high smoke point, meaning that their nutrients remain undamaged under high heat. This is very important because most foods are damaged when heated. Their precious fats, vitamins, minerals and proteins are destroyed or altered, leaving a food with low-nutritional value. In addition, many foods once heated can create toxic compounds that may even injure the body when consumed, so switching to coconut flour is a safe and healthy alternative.
Rich in Fiber
We always hear that we have to increase our fiber intake – and this is an easy way to do it. Coconut flour is high in fiber, delivering 5 grams with only 8 grams of carbs. Fiber not only keeps you feeling full for longer, but it also has numerous proven health effects. A diet rich in fiber has been shown to prevent colon cancer and may even prevent breast cancer as well. Fiber also helps to clear toxins from the body, and to normalize cholesterol and hormone levels. Eating a diet rich in fiber also helps with weight loss and normal bowel movements.
Coconut flour is low in sugar and carbohydrates while high in fiber, making it a low glycemic food. This means that it slows the overall glycemic impact of food by stabilizing blood sugar levels. As a result, eating coconut flour keeps energy levels high and prevents the normal crash that other carbohydrates, like wheat flour, cause.
Just like coconut meat and oil, coconut flour is rich in lauric acid. Lauric acid, a natural compound found in certain fats, is known to be a powerful antimicrobial. It supports the immune system and helps fight off a wide range of harmful invaders. Lauric acid has also shown to be effective against viral infections such as the cold, flu, cold sores, and even parasites.
One of the main reasons people have begun to eat coconut flour is its gluten-free status. As many as 18 million Americans are classified as gluten-sensitive, meaning that they react to wheat products. For many, eating wheat causes bloating, skin breakouts, foggy head, unclear thinking, headaches, diarrhea and/or constipation, irritability and other mood disorders. Therefore, the simple switch from wheat flour to coconut flour can be a key step in regaining health.
How to get it: Coconut flour can be found in most health food markets, either in bulk or in pre-packaged baking products. We use Nutiva Coconut Flour for baking bread, pizza crust and crepes, but have been loving ProCakes Protein Pancake mix for making muffins, pancakes and waffles. To get started, try this killer recipe for Coconut Flour Protein Pancakes with Raspberry Chia Jam from ProCakes.
Coconut Flour Protein Pancakes with Raspberry Chia Jam
Makes 3 pancakes
For the jam:
1 10 oz bag of frozen raspberries (or any kind of berry you like)
3 Tbsp of chia seeds
2 to 3 Tbsp of xylitol or raw organic honey (if you prefer stevia, use much less)
a pinch of salt
1 tsp of lemon juice
For the pancakes:
1/2 cup ProCakes Protein Pancake Mix
1/3 cup – 1/2 cup milk (non-dairy options: almond, coconut, rice*)
1 organic egg
For the jam:
Put chia seeds in a little bowl and cover with water. Just enough so that they’re totally covered. Let them soak for about 5 minutes until they form into a gel.
Meanwhile, add frozen berries in a pot over medium heat and stir until berries melt into a sauce-like substance. You can crush the berries as they melt, or leave some whole depending on how lumpy you want your spread to be.
Add the chia mixture and the remaining ingredients. Add sweetener a little bit at a time as the volume will vary based on the sweetener you use, and how sweet you want the end product to be.
Stir well and take off heat once berries are fully melted into the mixture.
Store in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.
For the pancakes:
Mix egg and milk in a bowl, then add ProCakes baking mix.
Stir well and pour batter into a lightly greased pan at low to medium heat. (Do not cook on high.)
When mixture starts to bubble, flip over and cook until golden brown on both sides.
*if you are using non-dairy milk, you may need to use up to 1/2 cup.