The Story of Cassava: History, Health Benefits and how it's Best Enjoyed!
Let’s talk about cassava; the latest trend in healthy baking! Cassava is a truly amazing vegetable that few people outside of Africa have heard of. Recently, it has taken the world by storm with its nutrient rich composition and has fast become one of the most popular baking alternatives for those with dietary restrictions. If you want to learn a little more about the history, processing and use of this magical root, read on!
Cassava, also called Manihot esculenta, originated from tropical America and was first introduced into Africa in the Congo basin by the Portuguese around 1558. It is cultivated throughout the tropical world for its tuberous roots that are a major source of carbohydrates and key vitamins/minerals. Today, Cassava supports the livelihood of over 300 million Africans and is the primary calorie source in tropical regions around the world. In many parts of Africa, cassava flour is grown as subsistence farming and not commercial, mainly to feed the family while what is sold is the surplus. The crop is famous for withstanding difficult growing conditions and is fairly drought tolerant. Whilst cassava is grown in 80 countries across the globe, Nigeria remains the largest cassava producer – producing over 34 million tonnes of the tuberous root per year.
As well as being low in fat and sugar, it is rich in carbohydrates, calcium, potassium,vitamins B and C, and essential minerals like thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. cassava uses and benefits is also a good source of dietary fiber and resistant starch (which is great for gut health!) Comparable to soluble fiber, resistant starch feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut and promotes digestive health.
Due to its high carb content, it serves as an excellent source of energy. Interestingly, the root of cassava is the third richest source of carbohydrates after rice and corn! So, it is a great source of complex and fast digested carbohydrates – which can help with appetite suppression for weight loss regimens. However, nutrient composition differs according to variety and age of the harvested crop, and soil conditions, climate, and other environmental factors during cultivation.
How Cassava can be used
gluten Baking free is an extremely versatile vegetable that can be processed and eaten or used in a variety of other ways. When boiled, the roots can be enjoyed much like potatoes are but with a distinctive flavor. Commonly, it is boiled and then mashed, fried, pureed or added to stews. You can even turn it into chips or use it in a dessert (cassava cake). Cassava leaves are also edible and contain a good portion of protein if cooked or dried properly. They are commonly used in soups and stews in parts of central Africa.
Starch is a derivative of cassava, and it is used in making textiles, plywood, glue, food, and other materials. The root is also used to extract tapioca – a type of starch that has little dietary fiber and can also be used as a flour.
Finally, you have cassava flour which serves as the best Baking gluten free wheat alternative for those who need a gluten, nut and grain free flour for baking. It is flexible to handle and has a mild flavor, making it the perfect flour for baking bread, biscuits, cakes, brownies and more. You can really enjoy your favorite recipes without the wheat! In Africa, it is often used to make fufu, a popular dough-like mixture that accompanies meat and vegetable dishes.
Due to its versatility, cassava could be cooked, grated, sun dried, fermented or ground – all of which serve to damage the plant tissue and make it safe to consume. Processing is done according to the product, whether fufu, or cassava flour. Cassava should always be peeled, soaked and cooked before consumption.
Cassava is a versatile and nutrient rich food that continues to feed millions of people across the world. We work with a great network of Nigerian-based farmers to process and package cassava flour. We are proud to bring to the market our 100% natural, nutrient rich and grain-free flour that is the perfect wheat substitute. Enjoy your favorite brownies, pancakes, muffins and more without the wheat!