Gluten Free Reviewer Grocery

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekend Edition Hot Off the Press #20: Coconut Flour

When you embark on a gluten-free diet, you discover the world of substitutions: cornstarch for thickening instead of flour, homemade marinades in place of soy sauce, and grits instead of oatmeal. One ingredient that often pops up on labels to replace wheat flour is coconut flour. It certainly sounds delicious if you're a coconut fan, but what's it all about?

Coconut flour is made by removing moisture and fat from the flesh of a coconut, then milling the flesh into flour. It is often a byproduct when producing coconut milk or Virgin Coconut Oil. The coconut meat is pressed for oil and the defatted coconut (referred to as "residue") is then ground into a powder.

Then benefits of coconut flour are numerous. According to Bob's Red Mill's website, the company's coconut flour contains 36% fiber, 14% fat, and 14% protein. Coconut flour is revered because of its high fiber content. It has about 10 times as much dietary fiber as plain white (wheat) flour. It's also a good source of vitamin C, iron, and calcium.

Even though coconut flour is delicious, gluten-free, and healthy, it does have some downsides. The flour tends to be more expensive and sometimes harder to find if your grocery store lacks variety. Also, most recipes do not directly substitute this flour for wheat flour. Coconut flour sucks up a lot of moisture and dries out batters, so it is often used in smaller quantities in recipes. Additional types of flour will need to be used if you are baking a cake or preparing bread, for example. Coconut flour also has 12.8% more calories than white flour, according to USDA.

But don't let all these negatives deter you. Coconut flour has been a great development for the gluten-free community. It's found in many gluten-free products and can easily be ordered online if your supermarket doesn't carry it. The health benefits alone are enough to give this unique flour a try.

By Julia L. 

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