Cassava flour comes from ground, dehydrated cassava root and is in many Paleo recipes. The cassava root goes by different names depending on the area of the world in which it is being grown including yuca, manioc, and tapioca. Recently, I’ve grown to love Otto’s Cassava Flour because it uses the entire cassava root (after it has been peeled, washed, sliced, pressed, baked, and then milled), meaning it is a whole food flour. Unlike tapioca flour (a.k.a. tapioca starch), cassava flour uses the entire root instead of just a separated starch, so it keeps the fiber, protein, starch, vitamins, and minerals that would otherwise be lost in making tapioca flour.
Cassava flour was originally reported to be a gluten cross-reactor by Cyrex Labs (unpublished, proprietary data), but published research has since shown that it is not. The chemistry of cassava flour is so amazing and unique compared to other Paleo flour substitutes, making it a great all purpose flour that has inspired new recipes that were just not possible before.
Despite being heavy on the carbohydrate (almost 80g per cup), the cassava flour is a good source of fiber (compared to many starches, which tend to be stripped of their natural fiber content during preparation) and is a rich source of nutrients compared to many other starches: vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate are some of the highlights! A cursory view of the scientific literature would reveal that raw cassava does have some antinutrients, including phytate, oxalate, and cyanide; however, the preparation and baking of cassava reduces the potency of these, and some of them also have antioxidant properties, such as tannins. Many traditional cultures prepared cassava by fermenting it, which reduces the antinutrient content.
A great brand to try is Otto’s Natural Cassava Flour. You can find it in a growing number of health food stores in the baking section. If you can’t find it locally grab it on their website or over on Amazon.