(NaturalNews) For people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or digestive problems, making the switch to gluten-free foods is crucial to achieve lasting health. The trouble is it`s rarely easy. Once you start banning wheat and other gluten grains from your diet, suddenly they seem to be everywhere! But you don`t have to give up your favorite baked goods if you`re going gluten-free. Instead, try making your own delectable gluten-free foods at home with coconut flour.
Coconut Flour Benefits
- First and foremost, coconut flour is gluten-free. Gluten is a protein in certain grains like wheat and barley that can cause problems in those who have trouble digesting it properly. Symptoms related to gluten intolerance include fatigue, depression, weight gain, and digestive upsets.
- Coconut flour is also very high in fiber. It has more than double the fiber of whole wheat flour and five times as much as brown rice flour! Fiber is essential for regulating blood sugar response, improving digestive regularity, and the production of important metabolism-boosting fats like butyric acid. Cooking with coconut flour makes it easy to increase your daily intake of fiber.
- Coconut flour also contains the fats that made coconut oil famous: medium chain triglycerides. These protective fats are antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal. As an added bonus, medium chain triglycerides have also been shown to boost the metabolism.
- Because it`s full of fiber and low in digestible carbohydrates, coconut flour has a more gentle impact on blood glucose. If you`re concerned about your blood sugar levels, coconut flour can be a great alternative to traditional flours.
Where to Use Coconut Flour
- Coconut flour is surprisingly light and airy. It makes a fine pancake, muffin or pound cake. In fact, baked goods usually turn out exceptionally well with coconut flour if you make the right adjustments. Many people find that coconut flour tastes much more appealing than typical whole grain flours.
- This tropical flour also absorbs liquid very efficiently, making it an excellent thickening agent in soups, stews, gravies and casseroles. A little goes a long way, and it lends a more pleasant texture than traditional flour or cornstarch.
How to Bake with Coconut Flour
Coconut flour can seamlessly substitute up to about one third of the flour in most standard recipes. Because the fiber in coconut flour absorbs a lot of liquid, you`ll generally want to add an equal amount of additional liquid to your recipe along with the coconut flour.
If you want to switch completely over to coconut flour, you`ll have to do a little recipe tweaking. Since coconut flour has no gluten, it doesn`t rise or gel together like wheat flour. The easy solution for this is to use one egg per ounce of coconut flour in a recipe. So if your recipe calls for a cup of coconut flour you will use eight eggs. To get the best results, it`s best to find recipes that were designed for coconut flour. Since it`s becoming such a popular baking product, coconut flour recipes are getting easier to find.
Coconut flour has a long shelf life--up to a year in the refrigerator or freezer. But once you get the hang of cooking with it, it`s doubtful coconut flour will be sitting in your kitchen untouched for that long! With a little practice, cooking with coconut flour can make gluten-free living quite enjoyable.
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more: www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welco...