Coconut flour is my favorite flour
As you may have noticed, most of the baked good recipes on Empowered Sustenance call for coconut flour. Hands-down, coconut flour is my favorite grain free flour.
Almond flour, a little darling of grain free baking, creates delicious results but carries some significant problems including inflammatory fatty acids and enzyme inhibitors. As a result, I believe it should absolutely not be used on a daily basis and but reserved for special occasions.
I previously used other nut and seed flours for baking. You’ll find that a couple of my old recipes use Homemade Sun-Flour. After learning about the problems with nut and seeds flours, rarely use these. Fortunately, thanks to coconut flour, I don’t miss them at all!
The Benefits of Coconut Flour
Non Allergenic: Like I mentioned, grain free baked goods usually rely on almond flour. Coconuts are actually a seed and much less allergenic than tree nuts. (But the FDA considers coconut a tree nut… totally weird).
Light Texture: Coconut flour boasts a light and fluffy texture and produces tender baked goods. The flour varies between brands, but I’ve had good results with every brand I’ve used. If you end up with dense or crumbly coconut flour baked goods, it means that either you have a bad recipe or you are measuring it wrong. To properly measure coconut flour, stir it with a fork and then dip the measuring cup into the fluffed flour, leveling it with the back of a knife. Don’t pack it into the measuring cup.
High in Protein: Coconut flour packs five grams of protein in just two tablespoons!
Nourishing Fats: There are four grams of healing saturated fat from coconut oil in two tablespoons of coconut flour. Did you know that coconut oil is extremely high in metabolism-boosting medium chain triglycerides? As a bonus, the protein and fats in coconut flour will reduce the glycemic load of baked goods containing a sweetener.
It is Heat-Stable: Unlike almond flour and other nut/seed flours which contains a large percentage of polyunsaturated fats, the fats in coconut flour are saturated and therefore heat-stable.
It tastes delicious: I love coconut flour because it doesn’t have a strong flavor. If you don’t care for coconut, you will probably still enjoy baked goods made with mild, slightly toasty flavor.
A little goes a long way: Coconut flour seems pricey at first, but a little goes a long way. One batch of my popular Coconut Flour Pancakes with Gelatin use only 1/4 cup of coconut flour for 2 generous portions.
It doesn’t require soaking: Grain flours contain phytic acid, a harmful substance that binds to minerals and prevents your body from using these important minerals. This is why traditional cultures from across the globe soaked and fermented their grains before consuming them. For example, Europeans made sourdough bread and Etheopians enjoyed Injera, which is fermented teff bread. Coconut flour contains no phytic acid.
It doesn’t contain enzyme inhibitors: All other nuts and seeds in their raw state contain harmful enzyme inhibitors. This stresses the digestive system (especially the pancreas, which secretes enzymes) when we eat large amounts of raw nuts/seeds. As a result, nuts and seeds should be soaked and dried to reduce the enzyme inhibitors, a routine practiced by early cultures across the world. Nourishing Traditions gives directions for soaking and dehydrating each type of nut/seed. Coconuts, however, contain negligible amounts of enzyme inhibitors and therefore require no extra preparation.
It’s the healthiest flour available: Wheat and spelt flours contain gluten, which is extremely hard to digest. Other grain flours including teff flour, quinoa flour, amaranth flour, and all those other eccentric gluten-free flours contain phytic acid and so should be properly soaked or fermented before use (this book explains how). In addition, they contain starches which perpetuate damage to vili of the small intestine.
What about other grain free flours? As we discussed, almond flour and other nut/seed flours contain non-heat stable fats and enzyme inhibitors. Tapioca and arrowroot flours, made from tubers, are the second best option to coconut flour because they lack phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. They do contain high amounts of starches, however, and these starches can perpetuate damage to the vili of the small intestine. As a result, gut-healing protocols like the Specific Carb Diet and the GAPS Diet eliminate these flours until the vili has significantly healed.
In summary, coconut flour contains no problematic starches, enzyme inhibitors, phytic acid and/or non-heat stable fats. It easily gets my vote for the healthiest flour around!
Is Coconut Flour for You?
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to food, however. While coconut flour is generally well-tolerated, consider the following points.
Baking with 100% coconut flour almost always requires eggs. Eggs provide structure and binding for coconut flour baked goods. I’ve been asked about using chia and flax eggs as a replacement in many of my coconut flour recipes. These egg replacements simply do not works with 100% coconut flour baked products.
Also, recipes which combine coconut flour with other starches, such as plantains or cassava flour, can sometimes be make grain free. See these Egg Free Paleo Waffles or my Egg Free Plantain Bread, for example.
It is high in fiber: Coconut flour contains a whopping 6 grams of fiber in two tablespoons. Contrary to information publicized by the media, high fiber foods do not produce regularity, a healthy digestive system, or promote satiety (learn why).
The fiber content in coconut flour may aggravate an inflamed digestive tract (such as a colitis flare-up). I enjoy only 2-4 tablespoons of coconut flour on a given day, due to the fiber content. Additionally, fiber may aggravate an inflamed digestive tract and should be avoided by those experiencing a colitis or Crohn’s flare-up, for example.
How to store coconut flour
Coconut flour lasts for many months in an airtight container. The fats in coconut flour are saturated fatty acids, which are more resilient to heat and light. This is in contrast to other nut/seed flours, which should be stored carefully to prevent rancidity of the delicate polyunsaturated fats. To make coconut flour last even longer, however, you can keep it in your fridge or freezer. Just bring it to room temperature before using for baking.
Coconut Flour 101 Recipes
Most of my coconut flour recipes are extremely easy, one-bowl recipes. Here are five simple coconut flour recipes to get you started:
- Simple Coconut Flour Muffins
- Coconut Flour Butternut Flatbread
- Ultimate Coconut Flour Pancakes
- Coconut Flour Pumpkin Muffins
- Coconut Flour Brownies
Where can I find (free!) coconut flour?
Thrive Market is my favorite online health food store, and I’ve taken advantage of the steep discounts and the occasional free products they offer members. I can pass on one of those freebies to you today (this is not a sponsored post): Thrive is offering a FREE 1 lb. bag of organic coconut flour, with orders over $50 here.
Like Costco, Thrive offers wholesale prices to their members, and this gift is available to both new and returning members. Membership starts with a month-long free trial. The membership fee is worth every penny – I saved so much on my first Thrive order that it canceled out the cost of my yearly membership.
Ready to start baking with coconut flour, and 25-50% on healthy living essentials? Click here to get your free coconut flour at Thrive.