So you've gone Paleo—but that doesn't mean you have to give up all of your favorite foods! Hey, just because you're choosing to eat healthier doesn't mean you need to skip on the good stuff. You can still make everything from cookies to fried chicken if you have one ingredient in your arsenal: coconut flour.
Coconut flour is made of coconut meat that’s been dehydrated and finely ground. This process causes coconut to lose a lot of its dietary fat and water, and its signature coconut flavor. Sure, that's kind of a bummer if you love that coconutty taste, but the fact that it’s almost flavorless makes coconut flour a great gluten-free substitute for regular flour because it won’t mess with the flavor and consistency of whatever you’re creating in the kitchen.
So it looks good and tastes good, but the party doesn’t stop there. Coconut flour is often used in Paleo and gluten-free recipes because–you guessed it!–it doesn’t contain gluten. But coconut flour really outshines other unconventional baking ingredients like quinoa flour, almond flour, oat flour, and tapioca flour when it comes to nutritional content.
With less carbohydrates than soy or nut flours, more dietary fiber than wheat, and about 1g of protein per tablespoon, coconut flour is a nutritional rockstar. Using this substitute for traditional flour will leave you fuller because of its fiber content (which means you might feel too full to reach for that second slice of cake), and it’s also a great source of manganese and lauric acid. Manganese helps you absorb nutrients like choline and biotin–both of which support energy transport in your body–and supports bone and thyroid health. Lauric acid promotes healthy, glowing skin.
If you’re looking for a low-carb, high-fiber, gluten-free option for cooking and baking, coconut flour is the ingredient you’ve been waiting for. Not ready to switch altogether? You can replace ⅓ to ¼ cup of coconut flour for every 1 cup of regular flour, but you’ll need to add eggs to your recipe for extra fluffiness. General rule of thumb: For every cup of coconut flour you use, add six eggs to your recipe.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont