flour is gaining momentum as a “go-to” gluten-free, grain-free flour. And it’s
not surprising when you consider that those who follow restricted diets
typically have to blend several flours to achieve the same consistency as
wheat flour. Which is never ideal.
But with cassava flour, that’s not the
case! After traveling Southeast Asia for several months (eating delicious,
locally made cassava breads, cakes and side dishes), I realized the huge
potential of cassava flour. In fact, it seemed to be a pretty darn close
replacement for wheat flour.
1. Cassava flour is gluten, grain and nut-free
plant is a staple crop to millions of inhabitants in South America and parts of
Asia and Africa. The plant produces the cassava root (also known as yuca or
manioc), a starchy, high-carbohydrate tuber – similar to yam, taro, plantains
As a tuberous
root vegetable, cassava is gluten, grain and nut-free, as well as vegan,
vegetarian and paleo.
2. Cassava flour is not the same as tapioca flour
the terms cassava flour and tapioca flour are used interchangeably, there are
in fact distinct differences. Tapioca is a starch extracted from the cassava
root through a process of washing and pulping. The wet pulp is then squeezed to
extract a starchy liquid. Once all the water evaporates from the starchy
liquid, the tapioca flour remains.
cassava flour is the whole root, simply peeled, dried and ground. This means it
has more dietary fiber than tapioca flour – and allows me to make cassava flour tortillas, which would not be possible
with tapioca flour.
3. Cassava flour is not poisonous
It’s true that
the cassava root contains naturally occurring cyanide compounds (also found in
almonds and spinach!) and that yes, they can be extremely toxic. But only if
eaten raw. That’s why the traditional cultures who rely on cassava for
sustenance have centuries old processes of soaking, cooking and fermenting.
These processes remove the toxic compounds and prevent one from getting sick.
that all commercially available cassava and tapioca flours do not contain any
harmful levels of cyanide.
4. Cassava flour is high in carbohydrates
cassava is a starchy tuber, you would expect it to have a high carbohydrate
profile. But it’s higher than you most likely imagined. For instance, per 100
grams, cassava has double the calories and carbohydrates as sweet potato. This
makes it a valuable and relied upon food source for millions of native people.
But it could
mean an insulin spike for you! For the vast majority of people who don’t rely
on cassava for subsistence, it would be prudent to monitor your cassava intake.
Particularly if you’re following a low carbohydrate, low-sugar or Paleo-based