It is estimated that nearly one third of the World is dependent on the coconut for food and commerce. The coconut reaches maturity in just 6 or 7 years and doesn’t need expensive or environmentally damaging inputs of fertilizers and pesticides to be grown commercially. For these two reasons coconut is the ideal crop for people living in hot countries where certain resources are in short supply but voracious bugs are not.
One of the more unusual uses of coconut is to make coconut flour. Once produced coconut flour looks very similar to wheat flour and can be used in a similar way to bake bread and cakes. Coconut flour is an ideal alternative to wheat flour because it is free of gluten. It is as rich in protein as other types of flour. Moreover coconut flour is low in carbohydrates, rich in fiber and contains important minerals.
How is coconut flour made?
To make coconut flour mature coconuts are taken and the coconut meat is removed. It is then pressed to make coconut oil. The remaining coconut meat is then dried and defatted. The dried and defatted coconut meat is then ground into a fine powder which looks like wheat flour.
About Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is very different to wheat flour.
Coconut flour consists of 14% coconut oil and 58% dietary fiber. The remaining 28% is protein, carbohydrate and water.
The coconut oil in coconut flour is a good way to replace unhealthy trans fats in the diet with healthy saturated fats that are readily metabolized by the body and turned into energy.
Coconut flour has a higher percentage of dietary fiber than any other type of flour. Fiber is essential for the smooth functioning of the digestive tract.
Coconut flour does not contain any of the protein known as gluten, but does contain other proteins useful for the body. Gluten intolerance is a common problem and coconut flour is the healthy solution.
Coconut flour is low in carbohydrates. The combination of low digestible carbohydrates and high fiber is ideal for people intent on weight loss as it promotes a feeling of fullness and prevents constipation.
More Advantages of coconut flour
Most coconut flour is organic. It is also made without being treated with sulfites.
Coconut flour contains natural sugars and so when cooking with coconut flour less sugar is needed. Cooking with coconut flour is a good way to reduce processed sugar in your diet.
Coconut flour has a slightly sweet coconut taste which adds piquancy to food.
What can you make with coconut flour?
Just about anything that you bake with wheat flour can be made with coconut flour instead. Foods such as bread, cakes, cookies, muffins and pies can all be made with coconut flour. There is no loss of shape or sacrifice in taste when you substitute coconut flour for wheat or other types of flour.
Many people who use coconut flour use it to replace 30% of wheat. It is often the case that for 100% use of coconut flour 4 eggs should be added for every cup of coconut flour. For muffins and short breads coconut flour can be completely substituted for wheat.
It is not necessary to bake coconut flour. It can be added to smoothies and shakes to add protein and fiber to a drink. It can also be dissolved in water to make a quick gluten-free protein and high fiber drink with a coconut taste.
Coconut flour can also be used in cooking to thicken soups, sauces and curries. In other words coconut flour is nearly an exact match in uses for wheat flour.
Where can I buy coconut flour?
You can buy coconut flour at health food shops and online at Amazon.com and other reputable online retailers. There is now a good selection of coconut flour on Amazon, most of which is organic. Tropical Traditions do 2.2 lbs packs for under $12. It comes highly recommended by people who have made purchases through Amazon.
Resources for those who want to learn more about gluten intolerance and about gluten and wheat free foods
1) Unique Gluten-Free Grains by Danna Korn is a good overview of gluten intolerance and lists many legumes, fruits and grains that are free of gluten. Many of these grains are some of the oldest foods known to man.
2) This is a list of authority sites dealing with gluten intolerance. The medical, nutritional and anthropological aspects of gluten intolerance are all covered.