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Nutrition

What is Cassava Flour? + 3 Easy Gluten-free Recipes

April 12 2019

In this article:

Cassava flour is a fantastic gluten-free alternative to wheat flour. It is classified as a low-GI (glycemic index) food, so it’s suitable for individuals who are on low glycemic diets. Cassava’s mild flavor, light color and powdery texture all make it an extremely close substitute for wheat flour. It does not tend to overpower the recipe, and some people even say they can hardly even tell the difference from conventional flour recipes.

The Origins and Cultivation of Cassava

Cassava is made from the yucca root, which is also called manioc in some regions. It is inexpensive, simple to grow and minimally processed.

Cassava flour has its roots in many traditional recipes and is used in many countries in traditional baking. It is considered a staple food, much like potatoes. Cassava is a hardy and resilient plant that is considered a highly sustainable crop grown in many places in the world.

Many people rely on the yucca root and cassava flour to feed their families during hard times. Choosing to purchase cassava can be a smart move for those who hope to help support small farming communities and the cultivation of a plant that is not inflicting harsh effects on the planet.

The Composition of Cassava Flour

The cassava plant consists of a starchy root vegetable and nutritious leaves. It is high in potassium, calcium and vitamin C.

Cassava flour is considered a whole food as it is not bleached or extracted from its original form. It can also be used to make tapioca starch, which is bleached and extracted. It is useful in helping thicken soups or making pudding.

Cassava flour is low in fat and calories and has low sugar content. It has plenty of carbohydrates, though, making it similar to normal grain and wheat flours.

Uses and Benefits of Cassava Flour

Cassava is unique because it doesn't tend to trigger most allergies. This includes people with nut allergies and those who may not be able to use almond or coconut flours. It is also grain-free and easy on the digestive system. Cassava is even used in folk medicine for a variety of reasons.

Some of the many reasons that make cassava flour such a good substitute for wheat flour include the fact that it’s:

  • Gluten-free – While conventional flours contribute to problems such as leaky gut and inflammation, cassava is a completely gluten-free option. This can make it a better choice for families and those with sensitive systems. It can also be important for people with autoimmune triggers to cut back on common allergens and food irritants.
  • Low in sugar – If someone has diabetes or is trying to watch his or her blood sugar, it is very important for him or her to be aware of which foods have a low glycemic index. Many people may not realize that traditional flours and bread can spike their blood sugar even if they aren't consuming a lot of sugar. Studies have shown that cassava flour is a low-sugar alternative that can help blood sugar levels stay stable.
  • Easy to digest – For those who struggle with irritable bowels or a sensitive stomach, cassava presents a perfect alternative for troubled bellies. It is gentle and easy to digest, presenting a non-irritating alternative to heavier flours. In addition, cassava’s lack of chemicals may help protect gut flora and reduce bacterial imbalances by providing a healthy prebiotic.
  • Allergen and grain-free – For those with chronic fatigue or sensitive health, a grain-free diet can be a lifesaver. Food sensitivities and autoimmune diseases can trigger a loss of energy and irritate the body. A food allergy can even occur without causing a lot of obvious symptoms, making it hard to associate the problem with the cause. Cassava eliminates this problem by being free of common allergens.

Cooking and Preparation of Cassava Root

To prepare cassava from the yucca plant, the skin needs to be peeled, and then it should be washed and grated. The grated cassava should be squeezed to remove the liquid. The pulp is then left to dry, which will be blended into flour. Once the flour is fully dried and reaches a fine consistency, it is ready to bake with. The process is very simple and does not require the use of harsh chemicals or processing.

Traditionally, cassava bread recipes were made into flat cakes that did not rise. They were dried into biscuits that had a cracker-like consistency. In this form, they can be stored for weeks or even months. The dried biscuits can easily be rehydrated by simmering in sauce or gravy, but they taste the best when fresh.

For additional health boosts, it is suggested that cassava flour is paired with other nutrient-dense ingredients to give a recipe a power-up. Flax meal and chia seeds are popular choices for adding supplemental nutrition and fiber into a dish. The texture of cassava flour is similar to the texture of white potatoes, so it also features an attractive appearance when replacing conventional flour in recipes.

The juice byproduct from the yucca is also used to make sauces. This gravy is called cadikura and is boiled and simmered with meat. If the juices are simmered further, they are reduced down into a thick sauce called cassareep.

3 Gluten-Free Cassava Flour Recipes

Those who are wondering where they can find a good cassava recipe needn’t look any further. Here are three tasty cassava flour recipes to try.

Cassava Banana and Strawberry Waffles

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Preheat waffle iron.
  2. Place ingredients in a blender.
  3. Blend about a minute until smooth.
  4. If the batter is too thick to pour, add more milk or water.
  5. Pour batter into waffle iron, allowing extra time to cook to ensure centers are thoroughly done.
  6. When outside is crispy and brown, remove from the waffle iron.
  7. Add strawberries to the top and enjoy!

Simple Cassava Flatbread

Ingredients:

Equipment:

  • Pizza hoop
  • Stovetop pot or pan
  • Measuring cup
  • Tablespoon
  • Stirring spoon
  • Potato masher

Instructions:

  1. Measure flour and add to large mixing bowl.
  2. Gently pour water in while stirring to mix ingredients thoroughly. The result will be a grainy texture.
  3. Break up the lumps with a spoon or by hand to achieve a fluffy consistency
  4. The mixture is now ready to be baked.
  5. Heat pan to medium heat and place a pizza hoop in the center.
  6. Transfer 9 heaping tablespoons of the mixture into the heated pan. Evenly spread the mixture across the bottom of the pan, pressing the flour down into place.
  7. As the mixture cooks, use a potato masher to press down the mixture firmly, carefully concentrating on the outer edge of the bread.
  8. Let it bake about four minutes until the edges lift from the sides of the pan.
  9. Remove hoop and turn the cassava bread carefully.
  10. Cook opposite side an additional three to four minutes.
  11. Remove bread, allow to cool and enjoy!

Creamy Cassava Cake

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine ingredients for the cake (setting aside ingredients for topping) in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir well, removing any lumps.
  4. Grease two rectangular-shaped pans and distribute batter equally between the two.
  5. Bake dishes for approximately 30 minutes or until mixture solidifies.
  6. Mix together ingredients for the topping and pour on top of cakes.
  7. Bake cakes for another 20 to 30 minutes.
  8. Allow cakes to cool completely.
  9. Slice into squares and enjoy!

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