Questions About Coconut Flour & More by Dana Carpender


Hello Dana,

I am a big fan of your cookbooks, but I have a question, can your substitute coconut flour for pumpkin seed meal and almond meal?

What do you think of konjac root power as a thickener?


Don Milligan

Hey, Don, thanks for writing, and for buying my cookbooks! I’m glad you like them.

To answer your questions, no, you can’t substitute coconut flour for pumpkin seed meal or almond meal, at least not one-for-one. Coconut flour is very high in fiber, and sucks up moisture like a camel hitting an oasis after a month in the desert. You’d need far more moisture in the recipes – recipes most commonly add extra eggs – and a smaller quantity of coconut flour than of the almond meal or pumpkin seed meal. I’m just experimenting with coconut flour myself, and it has something of a learning curve. You might look at Bruce Fife’s Cooking With Coconut Flour to get ideas for how to use the stuff.

As for konjac powder, aka glucomannan, I like it fine as a thickener. Andrew sent me a bag, and I used it in place of guar or xanthan in a wide variety of recipes. I thought it worked great. For those who don’t know, this is the same fiber that is used to make shirataki noodles. There’s some evidence that glucomannan can help weight loss by reducing appetite, and also lower blood glucose by slowing carb absorption, but A) I don’t know that it does those things any more effectively than guar or xanthan, and B) I don’t really see the need for a fiber to time-release digestible carbohydrate if you’re keeping your total carb load quite low. Still, it’s a useful thickener, and appears to be healthful.

Hope this helps!


I found a link to your recipes on the Nevada Manna Sugar/Sugar Alcohol Free Chocolate Chips page. As a chocolate lover who needs to cut the sugar and absolutely cannot tolerate sugar alcohols (one half of a maltitol sweetened protein bar left me very ill for two days!), I am having one heck of a time finding chocolate without sugar alcohols. This is a new “quest” for me and I would really like to start baking my own healthier cake/cookie/brownie for a treat.

Anyway, sorry for the lengthy email, my real question to you is:
Do you have to use the sugar alcohols in this recipe? Why do you use sugar alcohols over just Splenda in your recipes – is it necessary in some way to the outcome? I would love to try your recipe, but cannot use the sugar alcohols. Also do you know of any sites or products for folks like me who cannot tolerate sugar alcohols? Any help would be greatly appreciated:)

Thank you for your time,


Santa Barbara, California

Hey, Tammie —

I have learned that no matter what sweetener I use, someone will complain. The anti-artificial sweetener set will object if I use Splenda. The anti-sugar-alcohol follks will object if I use erythritol or another sugar alcohol. People on a tight budget often want me to use Splenda, because it’s inexpensive, while others accuse me of “taking the cheap and easy route.” I’ll won’t use straight stevia extract, ’cause it’s just plain problematic to work with, and can taste nasty, though recently I’ve been combining Stevia In The Raw with erythritol to good effect. And honestly, I don’t have the time or money to try every option.

I actually originated the Espresso Chocolate Chip Brownie recipe using only Splenda Granular, so yes, you can use it in the recipe. I changed it because I think adding some erythritol improves texture; indeed, I’ve added some erythritol to a number of baking recipes in the past year or two for that reason. But my earlier books have a plenty of recipes using only Splenda.

That said, be aware that of all the sugar alcohols (aka polyols), erythritol has the least gastric effect. I find it doesn’t cause, er, social offensiveness at all in me, though maltitol certainly does if I eat more than a bite or two. That’s one of the reasons I use erythritol. The other reason I use erythritol over the other sugar alcohols is that is has the lowest rate of absorption of all of them, and is effectively carb-free. By contrast, roughly half of maltitol is absorbed. If your problem from maltitol was gut-cramps or diarrhea, you might try a very small quantity of erythritol to see if you can tolerate it. You may be pleasantly surprised.

As for sites, right here at CarbSmart there’s a link to a section with all their sugar-alcohol-free products. Take a look!

A gentle warning, though: Sugar alcohols aren’t the only variety of sweetener that can cause gas. Inulin and FOS, sweet-tasting fibers, make me offensive if I eat them in quantity. After all, they’re fiber.

Hope this helps!


© 2011 by Dana Carpender. Used by permission of the author. What do you think? Please send Dana your comments to Dana Carpender.

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