Properties of coconut flour (and how to make it yourself). Coconut flour is free of gluten, contains saturated fats, fiber, and protein, among other beneficial properties for health.
The pulp of the coconut that is obtained after extracting its milk can be dried at low temperature and converted into a soft flour with very interesting nutritional and culinary properties. It can be used, for example, in baked preparations such as cereal flours.
Main properties of coconut flour
Gluten-free (if it’s pure)
Pure coconut flour is gluten-free. Anyway, celiacs should check if the product shows the “gluten-free” symbol to avoid the risk of cross-contamination during the manufacturing process.Keep in mind that some brands may offer a coconut meal with added ingredients that contain gluten.
On the other hand, coconut flour is a good source of protein with 18 g per 100 g. However, it is an incomplete flour, deficient in three of the eight essential amino acids. Therefore, it should be combined with consumption throughout the day with cereals and legumes.
Coconut flour is fat by 14%. Most (65%) is saturated fat but composed of medium chain fatty acids with beneficial effects on weight and cholesterol, if consumed in moderation. However, the proportion of fat can vary from one brand to another. Therefore, before using flour in a recipe, see if it requires more or less fat and take into account when choosing the product.
Although the studies on the properties of medium chain fatty acids are of quality, not all nutritionists are still in agreement to recommend its use without hindrance. For many, it simply continues to be about saturated fat, which is traditionally related to cardiovascular problems.
Therefore, it should be moderate: of the 70 g of fat that is recommended to consume per day, 20 g can be saturated fat. The rest can proceed to other healthy fatty foods such as olive oil, flax seeds, avocado or nuts.
Low in carbohydrates
Coconut flour contains fewer carbohydrates than other flours: 50% of the weight, compared to 74% of wheat flour. Therefore, it can be considered low carbohydrate food. A tablespoon of coconut flour provides between 1.5 and 6 g of carbohydrates, depending again on the brand that is purchased.
Coconut flour contains an average of 30% fiber. It is a good complement to reach the daily minimum of 30 g that an adult should consume (this is twice the amount consumed by the population average). Fiber is associated with optimal weight and less risk of colon cancer, cardiovascular disease, heart and brain infarcts, and diabetes.
In addition, the increase of fiber in the diet also helps with digestion, prevents constipation and favors the good state of the intestinal microbiota.
It has a low glycemic index
Thanks to the proportions of fiber and fat in coconut flour its glycemic index is 51, which places it in the group of low foods (less than 55), which do not contribute to the increase of blood glucose levels and therefore they serve to prevent obesity and diabetes. In comparison, wheat flour has a glycemic index of 69, which means it causes a quicker rise in blood sugar levels.
Making your own homemade coconut flour is easy. You only need a fresh coconut. Remove the pulp and mix it with the coconut water in a good mixer. Then use a cloth or filter to make vegetable milks to separate the pulp from the liquid. You already have rich coconut milk and now we are going to get the flour.
Spread the pulp on a tray and bake at 50-60 ° C for 4-6 hours. After this time, the touch and texture should be very similar to those of wheat flour.
How to cook with coconut flour
Coconut flour can be used in both sweet and salty recipes. It has no sugar and offers a slight smell. And taste of coconut that combines well with other ingredients in the recipes. Before adding it to the recipe, stir it with a fork so that the lumps are unraveled.
You can substitute up to 20% of any cereal flour in a recipe for coconut flour. But depending on the preparation it is advisable to introduce some changes -such as reducing the proportion of liquid- so that the result is not too dense or humid.
Coconut flour is rich in fiber, so it absorbs a lot of water while cooking with it. In comparison with other flours, it behaves like a sponge. In general, it is recommended to use the same proportion of coconut meal as a liquid. With coconut flour, you can make dense textured bread, muffins, buns, biscuits, cookies, crepes … This flour can also be used on its own to thicken soups and stews or to bake.A