When we first went grain free back in 2004, the only grain free flour available was almond flour. Several years later, coconut flour became an option. Then, finally in 2012 we learned about a new flour, cassava flour. And boy what a game changer!
What is Cassava and how is cassava flour made?
Cassava is a root vegetable that comes from a woody perennial shrub growing in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. To make cassava flour, the whole cassava root is peeled, dried and then ground. Drought resistant, cassava is a major food staple for over a half a billion people in the developing world.
So why is cassava flour such a dream come true for gluten free, grain free bakers and health conscious consumers ? Here’s a few of the reasons why:
Cassava has a very mild taste making it indistinguishable from wheat flour. It is also a one to one swap, making it easy to transform recipes into gluten and grain free. Not to mention that baked goods are no longer droopy or crumbly with cassava flour!
NO BLOATING OR GAS
As a resistant starch, cassava is a gut friendly flour! Since it is made from the whole root, it is typically more easily digested than extracted starches like tapioca. Given cassava’s lighter consistency and high fiber content, cassava can help to feed good bacteria, reduce inflammation and symptoms of bloating or flatulence. This is a dream come true for anyone like me with IBS, IBD, SIBO or other digestive issues.
LOWER CALORIES FAT AND SUGAR
Cassava flour is lighter than other grain free flours, like almond or coconut flour. It’s also got a higher water content, lower fat and lower calorie density than other gluten free flours like corn, rice, almond, coconut, and sorghum flour. Cassava only has approximately 120 per quarter cup. If you are looking to cut back on sugar or regulate blood sugar, cassava is recommended over rice or corn flours.
More fiber means feeling satisfied for longer. Cassava’s nutrient density helps reduce cravings for carbs. In addition to healthy fiber, cassava also naturally contains a fairly high amount of vitamin C and magnesium.
For anyone with nut allergies, cassava is a grain free dream come true!
SUSTAINABLE AND SUPPORTIVE
Cassava is one the most drought-tolerant crops, and thus is grown in areas for the world where fresh food is commonly scarce. Cassava is a major diet staple, as well as lifeline, to people of NIgeria, the world’s largest producer of the crop. Cassava also requires low energy to produce with high crop yields per plant. Nearly every part of the cassava shrub is used in some way.
Traditional methods of making cassava require soaking, cooking and fermenting of the cassava root to remove any amounts of toxic compounds, including naturally occurring cyanide (which by the way is also found in other crops like spinach and almonds!). So never fear, commercially sourced cassava flour is free of potentially harmful toxins.
So there you have it – cassava flour has quickly become not only our family’s go to flour and the base of our No Grainer pretzels, but is truly a food hero to many!
Suzie, GF Guru Mama