While we were at Expo East a few weeks ago, we were excited to see how much people loved our cassava strips. Not that we didn’t think they’d love them, but we found that many people not familiar with this root vegetable were surprised by its resemblance to another more familiar tuber.
It’s like a potato chip, many told us.
But it’s yuca, we explained.
Yuca (pronounced yoo-kah and not to be confused with the plant called yucca) is a root vegetable common in South American diets. It has a brown, tough exterior and its insides are white. In Colombia, we eat it boiled and fried, in soups or as a side. Made into a flour, it’s commonly used in pan de bono or pan de yuca — fluffy rolls commonly found at bakeries and corner stores.
You may know it as cassava or you may have never heard of it (although you’ve probably heard of tapioca, a starch extracted from yuca). Either way, yuca isn’t only a staple of the diet we grew up with, it’s also a food that we eat regularly since we embarked on our healthy eating journey.
Unlike white potatoes, yucas are not nightshades, a group of plants that include foods such as eggplant and tomatoes, which are known to cause food sensitivities in some people. That includes our daughter who had to eliminate them from her diet. Yuca is also rich in absorbable manganese and has high contents of vitamin B3. It also contains three times the amount of vitamin C per gram than a white potato. And like the plantain, yuca is available year round.
So, how do you eat yuca?
One word of caution: never eat yuca raw. Aside from boiling and frying, you can prepare it like you would potatoes. The texture isn’t exactly the same. We find yuca to be more fibrous and starchy but equally delicious. Mash it, use it to make hash browns, add it to soups.
At home, we also like to use cassava flour to make savory waffles, pancakes and as a substitute in recipes that call for regular flour (check out Otto’s Cassava Flour if you want to give yuca flour a try). And, of course, we regularly snack on our cassava strips. They’ll remind you of a potato chip and they’re great to dip.
Have you tried yuca? What’s your favorite way to eat it?