There is a time and a place for most food trends. Some come in strong and stick around for far longer than you’d think. From juice cleanses to paleo diets, there is someone out there who can and will argue for their cause. But today’s trendy food has been sneaking into some of the pricier food options on the shelves of Whole Foods for months. This grain free, nut free and gluten free flour has been making small waves. Today we are talking all about cassava flour.
I’ll admit. It took me a few months to get on board with cassava. Mostly because I already feel like I have a million alternative flours in my pantry. Spelt flour, rice flour and coconut flour lined my shelves. So what in the world would make me want to use or need a new option? For me, it came down to diet changes. After taking my EverlyWell test, I knew I needed to make gluten-free a bit more permanent in my life. If you also add the changes I’ve made for my hormones and teeth, cassava flour is a great alternative option that makes my lifestyle choices feel less restrictive. But let’s break it down a bit more.
What is Cassava Flour?
Like many other plant or nut based flours, cassava flour comes from its namesake: cassava. Cassava is a perennial shrub with very resilient tendencies. It’s ability to withstand stressful environments has made it a popular & life saving food source for many. Cassava is responsible for helping to feed more than 500 million people in Asia, Africia and Latin America.
What are the benefits?
If you’re on a paleo or gluten-free diet, cassava flour is a great option. Despite being low in fiber and protein, it’s another alternative for baking and provides a good source of Vitamin C. It’s nut free, grain free, gluten free and coconut free which also makes it’s an allergy friendly & anti-inflammatory option.
How does it compare to other flours?
In my opinion, cassava flour comes the closest to all purpose flour as far as alternative options go. It’s not as light and fluffy as almond meal. And it doesn’t have the same density that you’d find with coconut flour. It’s also not as sand like as brown rice flour seems to appear. Because it’s made from a starch, it seems to absorb water the same way you’d expect any other gluten based flour to perform.
Why is it so popular?
With Whole 30 and paleo diets gaining speed, cassava is an option that can still be used. The biggest place I’ve seen it being used is to replace corn products. Siete’s line of tortillas and tortilla chips feature cassava flour. So if you struggle to digest legumes, beans or corn, cassava flour based products might work best for you.
Where can I find it?
In the US, the popularity of cassava flour is still growing. And as far as I can tell, there are only still a handful of companies making products with it. You can easily find it online with amazon*, thrive market* or vitacost. If you’re looking to buy just the flour, those will be your best option. However, I’d suggest comparing prices. Despite it’s ability to feed millions in other countries, this trendy food can be overpriced. Expect to pay at least $10 for a bag or more.
How do I use it?
I’m still testing my favorite ways to use cassava flour but there are quite a few. It’s a nice alternative flour for baking but the absorbency isn’t necessarily the same as regular flour. And it doesn’t soak up as much water as coconut flour. But you could try subbing some in your next cookie recipe or when making pancakes. I’ve also seen a few recipes floating around for pasta. I’m hoping to test that one out soon and I’ll get back to you.
What products should I try that have it?
A good majority of my favorite products the last few months feature cassava flour. I’m a big fan of Siete’s chips, Birch Bender’s paleo pancake mix* and even some of the Simple Mill*‘s products. However, I haven’t seen as many products on the shelves as I thought I would given it’s popularity.