I typically try to use everyday ingredients in my cooking that are readily available and affordable, however, now and then I enjoy experimenting with new ingredients, if these ingredients allow me to expand my range of healthy, nutritious meals.
I was very pleased to see that Woolworths now sells coconut flour. I have done a little bit of cooking with coconut flour and have only been able to purchase it from my local bulk food health store. I have currently banned myself from the bulk food health store as we are trying to save money and every time I go in there I end up spending way more than I anticipated on a range of ingredients that I had not intended to buy. But when I saw 300 grams of Sunbeam Coconut Meal, also known as coconut flour, for $4.00 in Woolworths I could not resist. While this may seem expensive for a baking flour, keep in mind that coconut flour/meal is highly absorbent, therefore you actually use less than regular wheat flour.
I like coconut flour for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is far lower in carbohydrates than regular flour. Coconut flour contains 14.7 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams compared to 70.7 grams for traditional wheat flour. Secondly, coconut flour is a good source of dietary fibre, with 37.4 grams per 100 grams. Also, coconut flour is gluten free, so for those with a gluten-related disorder (GRD) (1), which is now the accepted term to encompass the whole spectrum of these disorders, it is a great alternative to use in baking and it is lower in calories compared to almond flour. Almond flour typically has around 160 calories per 28 gram or ¼ cup serving while Sunbeam Coconut Meal has only 118 calories per 28 grams. Furthermore, coconut flour or meal is actually a source of protein with 5.3 grams of protein per 30 grams.
I tried two different recipes with coconut flour, a Spicy carrot and apple slice with Ricotta lemon icing and Chocolate and beetroot cupcakes with Chocolate ricotta icing. Both were made without highly refined carbohydrates and turned out quite moist with a subtle sweetness (after multiple attempts). They were also approved by the boyfriend, which is always a good sign. So whether you have a GRD or not, try coconut flour for a lower carbohydrate alternative to wheat flour.
Spicy carrot and apple slice
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
1 apple, peeled and roughly chopped
½ cup dates or prunes, packed down
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup walnuts
10 drops vanilla flavour liquid stevia (I like Nirvana Organic – $15.95 for 50ml, which seems expensive but you do not need to use a lot to achieve a mild sweetness)
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
1/3 cup coconut flour
Ricotta lemon icing
1/3 cup low fat ricotta cheese
1/3 cup Greek yoghurt (use full fat for the creaminess and texture)
Juice from half a small lemon
Rind from half a small lemon, finely grated
1 tablespoon granulated stevia (I like Natvia – $7.75 for a 200 gram canister)
1 teaspoon gelatin dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water (see Note below regarding gelatin)
- Add the chopped carrot, apple and dates or prunes to a food processor. Process until finely chopped.
- Add the spices, baking powder, walnuts, stevia and egg to the food processor and continue processing until a thick paste forms.
- Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the desiccated coconut and coconut flour and mix well to combine.
- Spoon the mixture into a 20cm x 20cm baking tray lined with baking paper. Use wet hands to press down the mixture.
- Bake for 30 minutes in the oven at 180°C.
- For the icing add the ricotta cheese, Greek yoghurt, lemon juice, lemon rind and stevia to a small mixing bowl and mix well.
- Place the gelatin into a separate small bowl. Add the boiling water and mix until dissolved.
- Add the dissolved gelatin to the ricotta mixture and mix well.
- Place the icing in the fridge and periodically stir the mixture as the gelatin sets. This will stop it from becoming gluggy and lumpy.
- Allow the slice to cool completely before covering with icing.
Note: Some people, obviously vegetarians, may choose not to use gelatin as it is produced by the partial hydrolysis of collagen extracted from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals such as domesticated cattle, chicken, pigs, and fish. If so, it can be left out of the Ricotta lemon icing, however, the icing will not be as firm.
- Sapone, A., Bai, J. C., Ciacci, C., Dolinsek, J., Green, P. H., Hadjivassiliou, M., … Fasano, A. (2012). Spectrum of gluten-related disorders: consensus on new nomenclature and classification. BMC Medicine, 10, 13. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-13.
After 3 attempts I was finally happy with these Chocolate and beetroot cupcakes. They turned out moist and not too sweet with just a hint of the beetroot flavour. I like the colour too.
Makes 6 cupcakes
1 medium beetroot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup reduced fat coconut cream or coconut milk
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup granulated stevia
15 drops vanilla flavour liquid stevia
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup coconut flour
- Place the peeled, chopped beetroot and coconut cream or milk into a food processor. Process until the beetroot is pulverized.
- Add the cocoa powder, stevia, cinnamon and baking powder and continue processing until well combined and the mixture has a fairly smooth consistency.
- Pour the beetroot mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg and mix to combine.
- Add the coconut flour and mix to combine.
- Line a 6 cup muffin tray with baking paper. Carefully spoon the mixture into each of the 6 cups.
- Bake in the oven at 180°C for 40 minutes.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before topping with the Chocolate ricotta icing.
Chocolate ricotta icing
This icing has a light and creamy texture. Compared to a traditional buttercream icing it is much lower in calories and has no added sugar.
½ cup low fat ricotta cheese
1/3 cup Greek yoghurt (use full fat for a creamy texture)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted (sifting is important to prevent lumps of cocoa in your icing)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon granulated stevia
Mix all the ingredients well until no lumps remain and an even, smooth texture is achieved.