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Whether you’re paleo or gluten free (or neither), many of us are conscious of decreasing our grain intake. We’ve noticed a wave of products and restaurants filling the grain gap with cassava and tapioca. Cassava, a root vegetable, is native to Latin America, Asia and Africa, it is also known as yucca. Today, our Chip List newsletter (be sure you’re signed up to receive our Monthly Morsels) mentioned Siete Chips. These are made from cassava and there’s pretty damn delicious.
Then, there’s tapioca. Tapioca is the starch extracted from the cassava root. I know this is a little confusing, bear with me. For now, just know that cassava and tapioca come from the same place but are different nutritionally.
Cassava is nutritionally like a sweet potato. Cassava has more protein, a ton more vitamin C (cassava a great source), slightly more potassium and about the same amount of fiber. Cassava is higher in calories, if that matters to you (not to me). Cassava is used to make flour and breads (Otto’s cassava flour is a great brand). The concern with cassava processed improperly is that it contains compounds that convert to cyanide, sounds scarier than it is. The truth is many foods contain these compounds, flax is one of them. These compounds are in the leaves and peel of cassava and not the flesh/root. The bulk of the issues with cassava have been with people processing the tuber versus consuming it. Companies, such as Otto’s, test their products for these compounds.
And tapioca, I have to admit as a gluten free-er, I love the taste of the tapioca “sandwiches”. The tapioca makes a crepe-like wrap for any type of filling. A couple of places in NYC such as Tapnyc and Oca serve these. We tasted Wrapioca’s creations at the fancy food show and, also in NYC, is yubakery, their yubuns are not to be missed. In the sandwiches, tapioca has a slightly crunchy texture, yum. However, the more I researched tapioca, I realized it isn’t a nutritional superstar. The saving grace for tapioca is that it’s a source of resistant starch. These starches feed probiotic bacteria. So, tapioca versus white flour? Tapioca wins. Tapioca versus cassava, that one goes to cassava.
If you are in NYC, I would check out Tap. The whole place is gluten free, the “sandwiches” are delicious. We liked the vegan and also the one with prosciutto. They are very ingredient conscious, in terms of quality. Plus, they have matcha (odd for a Brazilian place but I’m happy about it).
Have you tried cassava, yucca or tapioca? Let me know your thoughts.