Many of us have been bombarded with messages that whole wheat or whole grain flours are much healthier for us. That may be, however, when it comes to their effect on blood sugar levels, the reality is that there may not be much (if any) difference. If you haven't tried it, test your blood sugar after consuming a roll made with refined white wheat flour, vs. one made with whole wheat or whole grain flour.
Pastries, cakes, and other goodies are doubly hard because now our bodies also have to contend with sugar as well.
There is where dietary substitutions come in. In this case, coconut flour is a tasty way to enjoy many foods that normally call for wheat flour.
Coconut flour is essentially ground-up, dried coconut meat. It comes in a powder-like substance and is low in carbohydrates and higher in protein than regular flour. It's also super-high in fiber, gluten-free and easily digestible.
The extremely high fiber content helps to make you feel full faster. And because baking with coconut flour requires a lot of eggs, there's extra protein too - another way to feel fuller, faster (eggs are used as a binder to substitute for gluten and provide structure to the baked product). Feeling full helps us to eat less, and weight management is an important part of controlling blood sugar levels and overall treatment of diabetes.
Coconut flour is also low in carbohydrates (it's somewhere around 60-65% fiber). That means it won't cause blood sugar levels to rise as high, or as fast. This is what makes coconut flour a great ingredient to use in diabetic recipes.
No. There's no getting around it, there will be a difference in flavor and texture when baking with coconut flour compared to baking with regular wheat flour. Coconut flour contains a huge amount of fiber - and that makes it absorbs a lot of liquid. Coconut flour is also gluten-free. That means it doesn't rise easily, like wheat flour does. Sometimes people complain that baked goods made with coconut flour are fairly dense or taste too 'eggy'. While they won't ever taste the same as baked goods made with wheat, some experimentation to get the right balance of liquids and coconut flour will result in some wonderfully tasty treats.
There is a subtle taste of coconut in coconut flour and a somewhat noticeable smell, depending on the brand purchased. Some people immediately notice it, while others don't notice it at all. Chances are that neither the taste nor the smell will be particularly noticeable when combined with other ingredients.
Organic coconut flour can be found in the health food stores or in the natural foods section of some grocery stores. You can also buy coconut flour online. It may initially seem a bit expensive (especially since the bags it tends to come in are pretty small) - but a little bit goes a long ways.
Do not substitute coconut flour one-for-one for regular flour. Coconut flour requires more liquid (due to its high fiber content) and additional eggs (to help with the rise of baked goods, since coconut flour is gluten-free). Every recipe will behave differently when substituting coconut flour. There's no way around it, you will need to experiment to get the texture / taste right, or use a recipe that was specifically formulated for coconut flour. Here are a few general tips:
If you don't want to use so many eggs, consider making an 'substitute egg' out of chia seeds and hot water. It doesn't matter if you choose white or black chia seeds. Simply soak one tablespoon of chia seeds with three tablespoons of hot water. Let sit and cool until it forms a 'gel' (put the mixture into the refrigerator to speed up the process). You can use this gel in place of one egg. Chia seeds are a super-food that's gluten-free, grain-free, and highly nutritious. You can find them at health food stores or buy them online.
You can adapt any recipe to use coconut flour, although it will likely take a few tries (or more than a few!) to get the proportions correct. Coconut flour is unfortunately not an easy substitute for regular wheat flour - but it's healthier and worth the trouble. There are lots of wonderful coconut flour recipes; following a recipe is much easier until you get the hang of how to do the substitutions.
Here are a couple of favorites to get you started:
Baking with coconut flour can take a bit of experimentation and time until you develop a 'feel' for it. Don't give up! Baked goods can still be a part of your diet even when you have type 2 diabetes. And baked goods made with coconut flour are even better than the ones traditionally made with wheat flour - coconut-flour baked goods are delicious, nutritious, and a great source of both fiber and protein.