As consumers have warmed up to all things coconut — from coconut oil to coconut milk to coconut water — coconut flour has started to find a place in the kitchen. It makes a delicious, nutrient-dense addition to all kinds of recipes.
What is Coconut Flour?
Coconut flour is made from dehydrated coconut meat leftover from coconut milk production. It has a smooth, finely ground texture and a mild but distinctly “coconutty” flavor. You can find it in the baking aisle of large grocery stores or natural foods markets — or an online retailer if your local shops don’t carry it.
A two-tablespoon serving of coconut flour provides the following nutrition:
- 60 calories
- 2 grams total fat (2 grams saturated fat)
- 0 milligrams cholesterol
- 8 grams carbohydrate
- 5 grams fiber
- 1 gram sugar
- 2 grams protein
- 30 milligrams sodium
- 10 percent daily iron
The Pros and Cons of Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is high in fiber and iron, low in sodium and cholesterol-free. Because it provides a good dose of fiber, protein and fat, adding coconut flour to a food will lower its glycemic index, which is a plus for individuals with diabetes and those who follow a low-glycemic diet. Because it does not contain gluten, coconut flour can be used in a variety of gluten-free recipes, especially baked goods. If you’re working with clients or patients on a grain-free diet such as the Paleo diet, coconut flour can be used to make bread, muffins and cookies.
However, the majority of the fat in coconut flour is saturated fat — lauric acid, specifically. Though lauric acid has been shown to raise “good” HDL cholesterol, it may also raise “bad” LDL cholesterol, which could increase heart disease risk. Those being mindful of cardiovascular health may want to use coconut flour very occasionally. In general, consider it a replacement for other sources of saturated fat in the diet.
How to Use Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is a great way to add rich coconut flavor and texture while upping the nutrient quality of a food. A tablespoon adds a fluffy, almost cake-like texture to yogurt or oatmeal. It’s great for gluten-free and grain-free baking. It works well in more forgiving items such as muffins and cookies, but can also be used in cakes, pies and pastries. Keep in mind that coconut flour needs a lot more hydration than regular flour. Make sure you use enough liquid, eggs and other moist ingredients to avoid a dry product. Also, keep in mind that it won’t spread, so if you’re making cookies, muffins or cake, it won’t expand during cooking.
Coconut Flour Mini-Muffins
- ½ cup coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Dash sea salt
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (or 2 teaspoons each cinnamon, cloves and ginger)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree or applesauce
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup honey or maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line mini-muffin tin with paper liners or grease with coconut oil or coconut oil spray.
- Combine dry ingredients (coconut flour, baking powder, salt and spices) in a small mixing bowl.
- Combine wet ingredients (pumpkin puree or applesauce, eggs, vanilla extract and honey or maple syrup) in another mixing bowl.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until well mixed. Spoon into muffin cups.
- Bake about 15 minutes. Makes 24 mini-muffins.