Cassava Root: A Grain-Free Flour Alternative
Grain-free living has never been more popular. It can also be a little intimidating. Trying to find replacements for all your old favourites that fit within a grain-free lifestyle can be a daunting task as it is, but when you add a nut allergy into the mix it can become a real challenge! Since many grain-free baked goods rely on nut flours to give them that yummy consistency and taste, it can be tough to find a nut-free alternative. Meet cassava flour: the grain-free, nut-free, one-to-one alternative to all-purpose flour.
Cassava, also known as manioc or yuca, is a starchy, white-fleshed, tuberous root vegetable native to South America. Popular in Latin American, Caribbean, and some African cuisines, it has a slightly nutty, neutral taste and is as adaptable as a potato. The plant produces high yields and is very hardy, and the flour itself is made by roasting or sun-drying the root, then grinding it into a fine white powder. When cooked, it develops an elastic property similar to wheat flour. It is a rich source of carbohydrates and is high in resistant starch, which helps to feed beneficial microbes in the gut and supports digestive health. Resistant starch found in cassava can also support blood sugar regulation and reduce the risk of metabolic disorders such as type-2 diabetes and obesity. When it comes to nutritional value, cassava flour is an excellent source of thiamine (vitamin B1), vitamin C, and manganese.
Finding cassava root flour
When choosing a cassava flour, check the label to make sure that it has been peeled before processing. Like apples and apricots, cassava contains cyanogenic glycosides, an antinutrient concentrated in the cassava peel that can cause illness in large amounts when eaten raw. Look for a flour that is pure white in colour, and no matter how you use it, ensuring that it is cooked properly before consuming will result in a delicious (and safe!) product.
With its increased popularity, the price of cassava flour has come down quite a bit and it is much more widely available. Since it can be used as a cup-for-cup substitution for flour, let your imagination run wild! From cookies and tortillas to soup thickeners, there isn’t much cassava flour can’t do!