Complex carbohydrates like mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes are a widely loved favorite at nearly every dining table. Whether you work them into savory dinner recipes or use them to create sweets, their starchy nature works well in most recipes.
That being said, potatoes aren't the only root vegetable out there that you should be exploring. The cassava root vegetable is a starchy and tuberous vegetable that can be used in the same ways as potatoes and offers excellent nutritional benefits. If you've heard of cassava flour before but don't know much about the ingredient, we’re here to help.
Over the years, we've used many different types of gluten free flours in our recipes, and cassava flour is undoubtedly one of our favorites. In this guide, we'll share everything you need to know about cassava flour nutrition, how it's used and provide recipes that you can begin baking today.
What Is Cassava Flour?
What is cassava flour and what is cassava flour made from? Let's take the time to learn a little bit more about this super vegetable and where it came from. An edible starchy root with a slightly earthy and nutty flavor, cassava flour is a staple food in many West African, Latin American and Caribbean cuisines.
Also referred to as yuca, manioc, casabe and tapioca, cassava cultivation dates back to more than 8,000 years ago when it served as the primary source of carbohydrates in Central and South America. Today, cassava has become a household name, and while it can be cooked and prepared like a potato, its most common form is flour.
Is cassava flour gluten free? Cassava flour, made from the entire root of the cassava plant, is a fine, powdery substance that works well in many baking recipes. With a structure similar to wheat, it's a well-known gluten free flour substitute for regular flour or all purpose flour and easily creates fluffy baked goods like bread and muffins.
Cassava Flour Contains Potassium
If you thought potassium was only found in bananas, think again. Cassava contains potassium, one of the essential minerals in the body. It works hard to help your nerves function and muscles contract.
Cassava Flour Offers Antioxidants
Antioxidants are essential to a healthy diet. A diet rich in antioxidants may help protect your cells against free radicals, warding off dangerous diseases. Each serving of cassava flour offers antioxidants to help keep your body running and feeling its best. Anti-inflammatory phenolic compounds are also present in cassava flour and work alongside antioxidants to decrease inflammation.
It Is a Complex Carb
Carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy for the body. However, not all carbs are created equal. When choosing which carbohydrates to eat, there are two main types: simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbs are relatively easy for the body to digest, and any sugar that isn't used right away is stored as fat.
Because many processed foods contain added amounts of sugar, they aren't recommended on a healthy diet. But that doesn't mean that all simple carbs are bad. On the contrary, several foods that contain simple carbs are rich in nutrients and should be included in a healthy diet. These foods include fruit, dairy products and certain vegetables.
Complex carbs like cassava flour take longer to digest than simple carbs do. This long digestion time allows your body to use the sugar more slowly, having a less immediate impact on blood sugar and fat storage. When choosing which complex carbs to eat, stick to those that haven't been overly processed or refined. Vegetables like cassava flour are an excellent example of a complex carbohydrate that works with your body to provide it with energy for more extended periods.
Cassava Flour Contains Dietary Fiber
Fiber is one nutrient that's crucial to a well-balanced diet. Great for maintaining gut health, cassava flour contains 2 grams of fiber per ¼ cup. Eating a diet rich in dietary fiber will help add bulk to your stools, making digestion a lot easier. Fiber also helps regulate the body's use of sugars. Because of this, a diet high in dietary fiber will often keep you fuller for longer.
An Excellent Option for Individuals with Celiac Disease
If you have celiac disease or are baking for someone who does, then you've probably searched far and wide for a gluten free substitute for wheat flour. Cassava flour is just that. Because it's made from the cassava root vegetable, this flour is naturally gluten free, meaning that those with celiac disease can enjoy it easily.
But what separates cassava flour from the other gluten free flours? Cassava flour stands out amongst other gluten free flours in that it contains wheat-like qualities. When baking with most grain free flours, adjusting the ingredients is necessary to get the desired result. Often, more eggs are needed, or a binding agent like xanthan gum is required to help the ingredients stay together. When baking with cassava flour, these extras are not necessary. Its starchy nature allows it to bind to other ingredients and create a nearly identical dough to wheat.
The downside? While there aren't many downsides to cassava flour, it is denser than wheat flour and will soak up more water. To combat this, we recommend using ⅔ cup of cassava flour for every 1 cup of wheat flour; then, you can adjust the ingredients as needed. The taste of cassava flour is also a bit more earthy than all purpose flour or wheat flour. However, when combined with other ingredients, it's hardly noticeable.
Cassava Flour Is Safe for Those with Nut Allergies
While almond flour tops the list of the most popular grain-free flours, there's one problem—it's nut-based. Though this isn't a concern for most individuals, it is for those with a nut tree allergy. Cassava flour is an excellent flour choice because it's a nut-free and grain-free flour and works well in most recipes. That being said, you'll want to check to make sure that the cassava flour you're purchasing has been processed in a nut and grain-free facility, as even the smallest amounts of these allergens can cause problems for those allergic to them.
Cassava flour can be enjoyed when following several different diets. From keto and paleo to grain-free, this flour can be used to create a table full of mouthwatering treats. In addition to being versatile, it's also much lower in calories than regular flour, which makes heading back for seconds a no-brainer. Lastly, cassava flour's high fiber content satisfies hunger better than most flours and will leave you feeling energized and satiated between meals.
While baking with new ingredients isn't always easy, it's a great way to improve your skills in the kitchen. If, after reading about the many benefits of cassava flour, you'd like to test this ingredient out yourself, there are many recipes to choose from. Whether you're in the mood for something savory like this Cassava Flour Pasta made from a blend of cassava flour, xanthan gum and flaxseed meal, or something sweet like these Cassava Flour Brownies, there's a recipe for you. Take a moment to search through our online recipe library to find a cassava flour recipe that you like, and then begin baking. We are confident that whatever you choose to make is something that the entire family will enjoy. From everyone at Bob's Red Mill, we wish you a healthy and happy day!
Love baking with cassava flour? We'd love to learn what you love most about this ingredient and how you use it in your favorite recipe. Share your thoughts on cassava flour with us in the comments below. We look forward to hearing from you!