What is dried coconut?
Toasted coconut is definitely one of life’s beautiful things – the smell and taste is divine. There is a lot of confusion about coconut flakes vs. desiccated vs. coconut flour, but don’t worry here is the low down!
Coconut flakes, shaved coconut, desiccated coconut and shredded coconut are all forms of dried coconut flesh. Coconut flakes/shaved coconut is typically wide, thin shavings of coconut while desiccated or shredded coconut is usually thin long strands. The key difference is visual and textural – so select depending on your cooking needs.
Dried coconut tends to get a lot of heat from people due to its high concentration of fat, however, it is basically fresh coconut meat that has been dried – although fresh is always best (the water in fresh coconut dilutes some of the fat), the dried form is by far way more convenient than having to crack open a fresh one and scoop all the insides out. If using coconut flakes is the best you can achieve, you are still doing a much better job than using tummy hurting white flour in terms of nutrition and health.
Coconut flour is the same as the other forms mentioned above which has had the additional step of removing the fat and moisture out of it which makes it a dry flour consistency.
What are the health benefits of Coconut Flakes/Shredded Coconut?
New studies have shown that the medium-chain triglycerides found in coconut are absorbed directly by the liver, not stored in fat cells. This means they produce energy much faster, raising the body’s metabolism. So even though the fat content is high, the body uses it in a way that is good for you. If you are still concerned about the fat content, you can use coconut flour instead, however, due to the smaller fat content coconut flour will give you a slightly drier texture.
An ounce of dried coconut will get you 5 grams of fibre and 2 grams of protein. Additionally, coconut is known to have a glycemic index which is great for slow release energy which is useful for diabetes management.
Where to get it from:
Quality does make a difference, some brands can be dry and bland as with all extraction methods there are difference processes which achieve different price points. Trying different brands is recommended but if it is going to be hidden in a cake then this doesn’t matter so much. If you are toasting and putting it on top then buy the freshest you can from a nut shop. Otherwise this is easily found in the supermarket and health food stores.
What to look for:
Choose unsweetened dried shredded coconut or coconut flakes over sweetened dried coconut, which have 2 teaspoons added sugar per ounce. If sulphates and preservatives are an issue for you, make sure to read the packet as most brands have some sort of agent in them.
Coconut flour should be fine and light in colour, once again the fresher is better and it is worth buying fresh from a nut shop.
How to use coconut flakes and shredded coconut:
Dried coconut is excellent in a variety of both raw and cooked sweet and savoury dishes. It can be used as the main base of the dish or can be toasted / used as decoration for desserts, breads and raw treats.
If you can’t find coconut flour, you can grind use either shredded or coconut flakes in a blender – just note it will be a little wetter, this isn’t usually a bad thing.
You can find lots of delicious recipes with coconut flakes, shredded coconuts & coconut flour such as Raw Glamingtons, Raw Carrot Cake & Fruit Loaf here.