Tapioca is a product that derives from the cassava tuber , a plant also known by the name of cassava or yucca .
Its scientific name is Manihot esculenta and it belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. Originally from Central America where since ancient times it was one of the main ingredients of the diet of the natives of those lands.
Cassava has begun to spread all over the world and in particular in Africa and Asia where the crops of this plant have found excellent lands to grow.
In Europe, the discovery of cassava and its products such as tapioca flour and starch have only recently become popular and their demand is increasing day by day.
Tapioca similar to …
Among the vegetables we know most commonly , cassava resembles the tuber of the potato . In fact, the edible part of the cassava plant is the underground tuber just like potatoes and is harvested to prepare products such as flour and starch.
In practice, after mechanical processing or cooking processes , products such as tapioca starch are extracted from this tuberous root, always used for food purposes.
Tapioca is therefore a product obtained from the refining of cassava. The tapioca flour is obtained by grinding while the starch is obtained after a deposition of carbohydrates in the washing liquid of the dough made with the same flour derived from cassava.
The terms used in commerce confuse customers as the starch from cassava itself is also sold under the name of “tapioca flour”.
Read also 3 recipes with tapioca flour >>
Composition of tapioca
As with potatoes, starch or tapioca flour contains many carbohydrates and starches that are excellent for the preparation of creams and purées.
Furthermore, tapioca in general contains a small part of fiber , another part of good vegetable fats , some mineral salt and finally a small part of proteins.
Its composition makes it excellent for digestion thanks to its high digestibility power.
Tapioca does not contain gluten and this allows it to be used even for those suffering from celiac disease and to maintain the most varied diet. In fact, tapioca is considered as a cereal due to its high starch content but unlike wheat and other cereals , it does not present any risk of triggering allergies or intolerances .
The low protein content and its composition make tapioca one of the least allergenic foods .
Tapioca in weaning
During weaning in the very early period, tapioca is a very suitable food for the newborn. Its high digestibility , the presence of vegetable starches and the absence of gluten make it perfect for starting weaning .
On the market we often find ready-made packages for the preparation of baby food and tapioca is one of the main ingredients.
We often find tapioca associated with corn precisely to balance and balance the composition of nutrients in the baby’s first meals.
As we know, from the fourth month the newborn can start weaning with vegetable broths and cereal creams .
Tapioca for its composition similar to cereals but without the presence of gluten allows it to become one of the number one ingredients in baby food.
The taste of tapioca is also sweet and the texture is both creamy and gelatinous . In newborns, these organoleptic aspects are highly appreciated and therefore tapioca is in effect a good food to start weaning.
Its ability to thicken and bind the ingredients in recipes therefore allows it an excellent versatility in the preparation of baby food .
A recipe for weaning with tapioca
To cook this recipe we will have to start with the preparation of a classic vegetable broth for weaning. We will therefore need a carrot , an onion , a tomato if we are in summer and a courgette .
We will wash the vegetables and cut them into small pieces and then put them to simmer in unsalted water. Cooking will end when the liquid is halved . At this point it will be sufficient to filter the vegetables with a colander without pressing them and the vegetable broth will be ready.
Usually at this point 2 or 3 tablespoons of cereal flour are added but in our case we will choose instead to put the tapioca together with corn. We will serve the baby food with a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil poured slowly.
This recipe is ideal from the first weeks of weaning even the first 15 days of initiation. However, the tapioca meals must be inserted in rotation in order to allow the newborn to acquire all the nutrients necessary for growth.
It is recommended to start for 3 days with a single food and then insert a new one and check that no unwanted effects, allergies or discomfort occur.
We also remember that during weaning it is better never to add salt or sugar at least for the first year of life.