Crazy about Coconut & Substitutions

Over the last decade we’ve seen a switch in how we look for, prepare and cook food.  Often it is gearing towards healthier alternatives!  This is great, but some of those alternatives can actually cause more harm than good (if you say have an allergy or are on a budget).  Here are some substitutions I’ve found that are healthful (although sometimes still not healthy)

Coconut Oil

coconut oilWe all know too much butter is a bad thing, but the difficulty is its consistency!  Finding a good option that is also solid at room temperature.  A while ago this would have been a difficult option, but now with the explosion of coconut oil and its wide availability you’ve got a great option!  Coconut oil is mostly solid at room temperature and can be switched out in equal proportions to butter.  If you need to use it in a more solid state (say pie dough or scones) measure it out, freeze it and then cut it into small pieces, and use a food processor or dough cutter to incorporate into the flour.  (It will melt too quickly if you use your hands)

Almond Meal (or almond flour or ground almonds, they are all the same)

almondThis is a great substitute for flour.  Unless you’re allergic to almonds (more on that in a moment).  Almond meal has a heavier texture, similar to that of rice flour or whole wheat flour.  It gives a great texture to cookies and brownies, plus it adds and extra layer of nutty flavor.  Some recipes don’t tolerate the texture well so be prepared to either research it or make some test batches of things like breads and cakes.  Another great gluten free option widely available are baking mixes.  So many companies have come out with flour substitute mixes that incorporate a combination of flours to help with the texture and flavor of not using classic wheat flour.

Ground Sunflower Seeds

sunflowerThis is a great substitution for the above as long as your recipe doesn’t have baking soda in it.  There is a chemical reaction naturally between the seeds and the soda that cause a bright green color.  That being said at Halloween and St Patrick’s Day, this is a natural and easy way to add some bright color to your baked goods without having to add food colorings.  If you’re looking for an almond meal substitute aside from that, it’s a tough call, if you’re not allergic to walnut, ground walnuts would be a good option; you can try rice flour which could work if the main flavor of the item isn’t coming from the flour.  Or you could just use whole wheat flour if you don’t have a gluten allergy.

Maple Syrup and Coconut Sugar

I live in Maine, so my favorite alternative to granulated sugar is Maple Syrup.  It’s maple syrupabundant here and super fresh, we always have some in our house.  It is by far my favorite way to sweeten oatmeal and coffee, although it’s very expensive.  It also does cause glycemic jump so that makes it not the best option, although still a great sub if you’re just looking to not use sugar.  You’ll need to do about ¾ cup for every 1 cup of sugar and as with any liquid instead of solid ingredients reduce other liquid ingredients a little.

coconut sugarCoconut sugar is a great sub because it can sub for both regular and brown sugars.  With a mildly nutty flavor it makes a great addition to any baked goods.  It’s hard to find though.  Most Whole Foods and natural stores have it, but it’s not widely available like Maple or Honey is.  Bonus though, it doesn’t cause a glycemic jump like regular sugar or maple syrup does.  There is some question to this statement though and there is little evidence to fully prove that theory.  It does contain antioxidants that can be great plus some minerals so that’s a bonus.  But in the end, it’s still sugar, and it’s ok in moderation.

I hope you found this interesting.  If you’d like to hear more options for substitutions let me know.  I find it kind of fun to research these, see what works, what doesn’t.  It’s always good to know a couple subs.  You never know when you might need them! BTW, the pictures are all from amazon and link to the products so check them out!

Good new guys!  ITS THRUSDAY NIGHT which means, TOMORROW is FRIDAY!  Woohoo!  Enjoy the rest of your work week and we’ll see ya again tomorrow!

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