Monday, September 16, 2013

all about almond and coconut flours - with six bonus muffin recipes

how to bake with almond flour/meal and coconut flours with bonus recipes for blueberry muffins, pumpkin pecan muffins, bacon and cheese muffins, banana walnut muffins, apple streusel muffins and zucchini-carrot-raisin muffins

Though I'm no longer on GAPS, having spent the time to set up this blog, it rather makes sense for me to continue posting here. Today, I want to talk about gluten-free and/or GAPS and/or paleo and/or low-carb baking.

Generally, I have decided not to post recipes as... well, Google and you can find a bazillion of them. I have decided instead to post tips about food, and only my really, really best recipes.

I'm a tad lazy generally about baking. I have done a lot of ordinary baking for my husband and before that my daughter, things like pumpkin pecan bread, banana walnut bread, oatmeal raisin cookies, zucchini cake and carrot cake. I've done it for several reasons, first to limit the sugar used compared to bought bakery products, second to avoid the inflammatory oils by using coconut oil or butter, and finally because my baking usually has a large dose of fruit or vegetable in it, thus has redeeming qualities not found in Twinkies.

For myself, I don't care about these foods much. I have a very minor sweet tooth. My issues with limiting carbohydrate have always had more to do with starchy foods; I'd rather have a pizza than a cake, I crave pasta not chocolate. And if I have to provide sweetness for myself, the laziness kicks in and I'd rather dessert be a bowl of yogurt with some honey stirred in or a handful of berries with some cream.

Overall, the experimenting I have done with more healthy baking has had a great deal more to do with savory baking than sweet. I'd like something to make sandwiches with, or to dip in the yolks of my soft-boiled eggs. I have developed three recipes I really like for savory breads: a corn bread, a cheese roll (from tapioca flour) and a nacho cracker, which I'll post about later. Today, it will be muffins (but includes a savory bacon & cheese muffin!)

When first introduced to the world of gluten-free baking, I just found the whole idea a tad overwhelming in that there seem to be entirely too many flours involved. Recipes that have THAT many unfamiliar ingredients are just too much for me. I don't want to buy teff flour and sorghum flour and xanthum gum and am entirely too lazy to mix 4 or 5 flours just to wind up with flour. I admire those who do this sort of baking for their families, but I'm just not interested myself.

But I have done a good bit of baking with almond flour and coconut flour over the years and have developed some opinions about them - and handful of truly awesome recipes.

about almond flour/meal nutrition

By M.Verkerk, J.J.G.Claessens (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons
sometimes you feel like a nut

Almond flour has been around forever; Julia Child uses it in her Queen of Sheba cake recipe. Because of this, there are lots of recipes and uses for it and it's commonly available.

Almond flour is usually from blanched almonds, meaning the skin is removed and thus most of the anti-nutrients are gone without the hassle of soaking and dehydrating first. Most of your other nuts are not easily available as flours, so it's a lot more work to bake with them since you have to make the flour yourself.

The downside is that almond fat is high in omega 6 fatty acids and thus rather inflammatory; almonds really shouldn't be a large part of your diet. Those who overdo on almonds are rarely doing it by eating handfuls of almonds, but by overdoing the baking stuff I'm going to tell you about.

Note that these are TREATS, not dietary staples; I recommend that you be lazy about baking. And take your fish oil!

about coconut flour nutrition

Coconut (halved) by SingChan, on Flickr
put the lime in the coconut and sing a bad song

I'm not sure how long coconut flour has been available. The cynical bit of me thinks it was invented to sell what was previously garbage to low-carbers.

Basically, coconut flour is what is leftover after the coconut milk and oil is pressed out of the coconut meat. It's basically shredded coconut meat with all the good stuff removed. It has almost no fat at all, thus is rather neutral nutritionally.

Coconut flour is almost entirely fiber, which is either good or bad, I'm not entirely certain. It's certainly good if you're limiting carbohydrate, as fiber has almost no impact on bG.

As for the fiber content - currently, we have lots of foods being touted as "prebiotics", basically fibers indigestible to us that are food for our gastrointestinal bugs. However, there are both good and bad GI bugs and many gut protocols, like GAPs, forbid pectin and inulin, the very foods touted as prebiotic and thus good.

I believe the relevant question is whether any individual fiber is more likely to feed the good bugs or bad bugs preferentially.

But since there are hundreds of species and we don't even know which are good or bad yet, I'm very uncertain which bug foods might be good or bad yet.

If anyone knows more about this than me, please leave a comment! I need to unravel much more information about bugs busily buggering... (a phrase I coined on Facebook and have been working hard to incorporate into my writing as often as possible since!)

So, there's no telling whether coconut flour is healthy or not; it's definitly a highly processed food. Again, my recommendation is you be lazy about baking, which naturally limits your consumption.

baking with coconut flour and almond flour

Due to my lazy attitude about baking, if I am going to bake, I want it to be good. Almond meal and coconut flour have very different uses, IMO.

Almond meal tastes vaguely nutty, so it is always going to make a better crust for a sweet dessert, like a cheesecake, a pumpkin pie or, ironically enough, a coconut cream pie.

In those applications, an almond crust, or indeed any nut crust, doesn't even feel like a compromise, a nice buttery nut crust "goes" with desserts pretty much better than the SAD counterparts. I might do that for an "event" like a family Thanksgiving, but honestly, I'm much more likely to just go ahead and bake those things crustless and call them puddings or custards instead. Again, laziness will win out the majority of the time.

For making a plain bread, something savory to soak up egg yolk for example, it almost doesn't matter which you use. All the coconut flour or almond meal bread recipes I've ever tried are mediocre. The best you get from bread is "not bad", you don't ever actually get all the way to "good". Might as well just buy gluten-free bread, which is also rather mediocre (and expensive, but it saves the work of baking mediocre stuff!) I don't have an answer for a normal bread, like for sandwiches, nothing I've tried has ever been really good.

However, quick breads do work with almond meal or coconut flour. Of course, coconut flour requires piles of eggs to rise properly, which is mostly a good thing, as whatever you're baking ends up pretty nutrient-dense if you use good pastured eggs. All your coconut flour recipes wind up with crack a dozen eggs and add a tablespoon of coconut flour (and that's only a minor exaggeration).

I don't do quick breads as loaves much, I'm more likely to do muffins. Basically because muffins are easier to freeze in portions, and I'm not going to eat a loaf of pumpkin nut bread before it goes bad, so I'd rather make pumpkin nut muffins and freeze 10 of them for some other time.

A thread on a Facebook group got me thinking about this some time ago. It occured to me how I've come down on this topic, where I prefer coconut flour to almond meal and vice-versa. I saw a pattern. Coconut flour by itself is dry. Even though you use a bazillion eggs, coconut flour recipes wind up dry tasting as the eggs cook solid and therefore don't add moisture to the dish.

All the coconut flour recipes I have liked are things like pumpkin nut bread, or banana nut bread, or a muffin I make with bacon grease, crumbled bacon and shredded cheese in it. Basically, recipes where the batter itself has a bunch of wet fruit or vegetable in it, or a bunch of fat added. Coconut flour works well in those recipes.

But something like blueberry muffins, where the fruit isn't really IN the batter, but just folded in, works much better with almond meal. The batter needs the moisture from almond meal to prevent just turning out a crumbly, dry muffin.

For me, practicality trumps the health issues, as if it isn't yummy, no one eats it. And I don't have the time and energy to bake stuff to compost!


Bob's Red Mill sells both almond flour/meal and coconut flour. Since most groceries seem to carry their line, it's widely available; if your grocery doesn't carry it, the nearest health food store almost certainly will. This is your best choice if you're new to using either.

However, if you're going to bake with these flours regularly, they can be gotten much more cheaply in bulk online. I recommend storing almond meal in the fridge, but coconut is fine at room temperature.

My best prices for these today are Amazon for almond and Tropical Traditions for coconut. Click the images below to buy and give me a few cents with your purchase, at no cost to you. Thanks!

Jackie's favorite muffin recipes

I have six basic muffin recipes that I truly love. What I do is bake a dozen and after cooling, stick them in a gallon-sized ziplock container, press out most of the air and freeze. After I've made all 6 recipes, I have many months worth of muffins available in a nice variety.

blueberry muffin, apple streusel muffin, bacon and cheese muffin, zucchini-carrot-raisin muffin
I put some thawed muffins on a plate, took a bunch of pics with my cell phone
from different angles, connected the phone to my computer via USB, uploaded to
PC, viewed and chose the best image, cropped and resized it, then uploaded to a
draft post in Blogger to obtain the URL to put in this post. WHY? Is this for the
huge influx of never-saw-a-muffin blog visitors I'm expecting? You muffin-ignorant
  • 2 1/2 cups almond meal
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (use baking soda to make GAPS legal)
  • 1/2 tsp ground sea salt
  • 1 TB vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 300 and line muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Blend all ingredients except berries; then fold in berries.
  3. Pour into muffin tins and bake 30-40 minutes, until done.

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup cooked pumpkin or winter squash puree
  • 6 eggs
  • 2/3 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Mix together coconut oil, honey, puree and eggs.
  3. Mix together flour and spices.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix.
  5. Fold in nuts.
  6. Pour into muffin tins and bake 25-30 minutes, until done.

  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 8 eggs
  • 6 TB coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  1. Cook bacon until crispy. Remove from pan, let cool and crumble; reserve. Measure 1/4 cup cooled bacon grease.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 and butter muffin tins.
  3. Beat eggs with bacon grease. Add flour and baking soda and mix until smooth.
  4. Fold bacon and cheddar into batter.
  5. Pour into muffin tins and bake 15-20 minutes, until done.

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 VERY ripe bananas (previously frozen is OK)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground sea salt
  • 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Blend oil, honey and bananas until smooth.
  3. Add flour, soda and salt and mix until smooth.
  4. Fold in nuts.
  5. Pour into muffin tins and bake 20-25 minutes, until done.

ingredients for topping
  • 1 TB butter
  • 2 large apples, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 TB honey
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
ingredients for batter
  • 3 TB coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 TB vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground sea salt
  1. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat.
  2. Add apples and cinnamon and cook until apples are softened.
  3. Stir in pecans, honey and vanilla extract and set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 300, line muffin tin with paper cups.
  5. Blend oil, honey, vanilla and eggs until smooth.
  6. Stir in flour, soda, cinnamon and salt.
  7. Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups. Top with apple mixture.
  8. Bake 20-25 minutes, until done.

  • a small zucchini
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 TB vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  1. Shred zucchini and carrots; you should have about 1 cup of each. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin cups with paper liners.
  3. Beat eggs in large bowl until frothy.
  4. Add coconut oil, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and soda and mix until smooth.
  5. Sprinkle coconut flour over top of batter, then beat until smooth.
  6. Fold in shredded vegetables and raisins.
  7. Pour into muffin tins and bake 20-25 minutes, until done.

Do you have favorite tried-and-true coconut or almond recipes to share? Post below!

Disclosure: Affiliate