Cassava or cassava is a root that constitutes one of the main foods for more than 500 million human beings around the planet.
Just as in Asia the lower classes consume rice and in the West wheat is part of the staple diet of households, in Central America cassava or cassava is the main ingredient in daily dishes.
Despite being so common, it is toxic since it contains cyanide that must be removed before consumption through prolonged exposure to heat. This can be done by boiling, frying, or steaming.
How to prepare it
The first thing is to peel the yucca well. The two ends are cut off and discarded. Then the cassava is usually cut into more or less thick slices. These are placed on a cutting board and with a very sharp knife we remove the bark with vertical cuts. Once peeled, it is opened in the middle lengthwise and a central part is removed, which is quite woody and which provides some bitterness.
At this point we can cook the yucca by the method that we like the most.
Cooked: Cook the yucca in plenty of water with plenty of salt. It should be cooked until it is very soft (it depends on the quality of the cassava but it will be about 20 minutes) at which point it can be consumed. Unfortunately cassava is quite bland so it is normal to use these cooked cassava tacos as a base that we will combine with other ingredients and sauces that will really give flavor to our dish. They can be added to meat stews, sautéed with other vegetables, or simply added spices and oil or butter. It is also very common to mash the cooked yuca tacos. In that case we will add other ingredients such as garlic, chives, butter, oil, spices ... to spice things up.
Steamed or baked: It is also possible to grate the raw cassava (with a cheese grater or similar) and the dough that is obtained is put on a cheese cloth or kitchen cloth to drain part of the liquid it contains, making a ball and pressing. Once drained, the remaining dough is mixed with other ingredients and cooked in the oven or steamed into medium-sized balls wrapped in aluminum foil (or banana leaf if you have one). The dough is quite sticky so it is not necessary to add an egg to make it stick together and firm. Either baked or steamed, you should cook the yucca for a long time (at least 40 minutes in the oven and more than an hour in the steam).
Fried: It is also possible to make fried yucca. We will give it the shape we want, either type potato chip or potato chip. But in no case will we make very large pieces that may remain raw inside despite frying. If we make the yucca in the shape of a fried potato, just to ensure that it cooks well, we will start frying with a not too hot oil. When we see that the yuca begins to brown, we remove it from the oil and raise its temperature to a high level. We reintroduce our cassava strips until they are well browned. They are then salted and served as a side.
Finally, if you want to enjoy cassava without having to cook it, you can use cassava flour or starch or tapioca pearls that are obtained from cassava starch. Cassava flour is what is used to make prawn bread for example. And the tapioca pearls give a very nice and very aesthetic touch to any soup.
Its nutritional and medicinal properties
Among the main virtues of this vegetable is that it contains a large amount of carbohydrates in the form of starch. Therefore, it not only satisfies hunger, but also offers a lot of fast energy.
In addition, its fat intake is quite low. The amount of calories in cassava make it a suitable food for those who must make considerable physical efforts, such as workers in fields, factories, buildings, etc.
Cassava gives us a good dose of vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and calcium.
1. It is a powerful digestive
Cassava is very easy to digest and, at the same time, it serves to cure or prevent certain stomach or digestive problems.
For example, it is recommended for those who suffer from poor absorption of nutrients, heartburn, ulcers and flatulence. It is also ideal for alleviating poor digestion, diarrhea and constipation.
2. It is an excellent remedy for the skin
To enjoy these properties of yucca we can use the leaves or root powder, always externally.
- The former are useful for treating conditions caused by abrasion or intoxication.
- The second is used in cases of burns, eczema or skin irritation.
3. It is detoxifying and purifying
These two properties of cassava are due to its high amount of resveratrol. This active principle reduces the levels of "bad" cholesterol (LDL) while improving blood circulation and increasing platelet production.
In addition, cassava prevents atherosclerosis and the formation of thrombi, facilitates lymphatic drainage and reduces excess uric acid, making it ideal for people who suffer from gout.
4. It is anti-inflammatory
Its great action to deflate is useful in patients with joint problems such as rheumatism, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, it can also be used if we suffer from muscle, bone or tendon pain.
5. It is a wonderful stimulant
Thanks to its ability to strengthen the immune system, cassava prevents us from getting sick by not allowing harmful microorganisms to enter our body.
- Its consumption is also recommended for seasonal allergies thanks to the saponins it contains.
- It is also effective for disinfecting wounds due to its bactericidal properties.
6. It is ideal for pregnant women
Cassava is rich in folic acid, so it is advisable for pregnant women, as well as during lactation. Improves the health of the mother and prevents illnesses in the child.
7. It's good for the bones
Since this plant provides a good amount of calcium, it ensures strong and healthy bones. This includes, of course, the teeth.
- Cassava is used in people with osteoporosis and should be consumed from the age of 35 to avoid breakage or dislocation.
- For its part, the leaves have vitamin K that also serves to take care of the bones.
8. It is beneficial for diabetics
Cassava has a lot of fiber that slows down the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the blood. On the other hand, it has a low glycemic index and that is why it is recommended for people with type II diabetes.
9. It regulates metabolism
We cannot forget that this plant is a moderate source of B vitamins. These are important for producing hormones responsible for keeping the metabolism balanced.
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