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I rediscovered tapioca recently, and a new way to eat it, that I’m suuuper excited to share with you.
Sorry to say that tapioca isn’t for GAPS Diet folks (but it can be in the future, so keep on healing!); but it is appropriate for those on the AIP diet and certainly all Paleo and gluten-free folks.
It’s super delicious, in addition to being a complex carbohydrate (translation: energy), which I expound on below.
We like it so many ways, and in the heat of summer– it’s that extra-bit-yummy-special!
In the winter, we were eating it for breakfast! You can make it snip snap the night before, put it in the fridge– and an instant breakfast is ready for all– like porridge, but cold.
Serve it in a bowl, or serve it in a glass, but here’s how it goes:
You just bring water to a boil (I’ll show you how much below); you sprinkle in the organic broken pearls (like these); you stir a bit and it rolls around in that big pot you got; and then– it’s translucent and ready to be chilled.
So my version is only cooked in water! I discuss below adding coconut or raw milk (if you’re not AIP) afterwards, as a float/topping; but the cooking in water is part of the revolution. It’s DELICIOUS, affordable, easy to cook, and so versatile.
If you have hungry home-campers that need that chilled goodness now, you can simply stir in frozen fruit, like raspberries or blueberries– and the gel will happen.
But I LOVE it the next day. I add: maple syrup, about 2 teaspoons; it is SO pretty. The syrup’s lovely texture settles into all the pearly nooks making golden crannies; it settles down down with gravity in amber lightning shapes of sweet. NOW you can even add a bit of water, no foolin’– it’s GOOD like that. SO simple and with a beautiful mouthfeel.
Or you can add herbal coffee, or a shot of decaf. espresso (if you do coffee) or coconut cream or raw cream (if you do dairy), or your milk of choice.
Really make it float, is the key. You can even drink it now. Or use a spoon and your sipping mouth alternating. SO GOOD, SO refreshing.
Is Tapioca Actually a Complex Carb?
An unexpected discovery happened in trying this food again after many years: our bodies love it. I thought maybe I’d get shaky, that it would be too starchy, that it wouldn’t be a good fit for us. But instead– we always eat it with protein first– our bodies felt fueled and happy– as if we’d just eaten a complex carb, not a starchy thing that won’t keep giving energy.
My confusion stemmed from the fact that tapioca products are indeed too starchy for those on the GAPS Diet. So is whole cassava root, from which tapioca is derived. They’re meant to be introduced further down the healing path.
So is tapioca worth introducing at all? Is it remotely healthy?
Most articles on tapioca depict it as a carbohydrate with little nutrition, while others claim it contains beneficial amounts of calcium (30 mg per serving), folate (6 mcg), manganese (8% of your body’s daily needs), iron (13% of your body’s daily needs), potassium, and some sources say vitamin C.
Why was my family experiencing a surge of lasting energy after consuming it?
As mentioned above, tapioca is indeed a complex carbohydrate. This means that it digests slowly, providing long-term energy to the body, instead of causing an insulin spike and being stored as fat…a cycle that can cause diabetes.
All carbs are converted into glucose by the body. But if there is too much glucose, the body will release excess insulin and store the unused energy as fat. The glycemic index (GI) was introduced to help prevent and control diabetes, so patients could know which foods would cause the insulin spike and which carbs would digest more slowly, providing a balanced energy source.
While the glycemic index (GI) measures how much of an insulin spike different carbohydrates cause, there is a newer measurement called the glycemic load (GL) that measures how much of that carbohydrate ratio-wise is in a certain food. This is where tapioca is vindicated. While tapioca is relatively high on the glycemic index (which is why I thought it might make me shaky), it is low on the glycemic load, meaning my body doesn’t release a lot of insulin to process the glucose.
The glycemic index of tapioca is 85, which is considered high (and bad).
The glycemic load of tapioca is 12, which is considered low (and good).
How is Tapioca Made?
I contacted Let’s Do Organic to find out how tapioca is made. Here’s how they explained their process of turning organic cassava into tapioca pearls:
“The tapioca starch is mixed with some water to dampen it, and it is then forced through a screen to make small particles. These are tumbled to build layers and get them round, and then sorted through a screen to size them to the different tapioca pearl sizes. The pearls are then dried to about 12% moisture to reduce the water activity and keep them stable. The granules are basically the same process, but additional water is added to the small particles of tapioca while they are heated to ‘gelatinize’ the starch. They swell and change structure. They are then dried, and as they were hydrated once, they cook faster the second time, hence the ‘minute’ tapioca. It’s a process of crumbling, cooking, grinding, drying, sieving, and finally is transferred to humidity to moisture the product, and sieved once again.”
There is never any high pressure used. The techniques are sometimes mechanized, but still use basic indigenous cooking methods.
Tapioca was first developed in America. It’s a native American crop, and was used in the 19th century for babies, the elderly and invalids because of how easy it is to digest. While it may not be rich in vitamins and minerals, it does provide important carbohydrates.
By the way, if you’re curious, bubble tea is the unnatural cousin to tapioca and best to be avoided. Bubble tea does use modern processing methods, like microwave heat, and usually has added industrial ingredients beyond tapioca itself.
In conclusion, is tapioca a complex carbohydrate? YES! It may not be nutrient dense. BUT it will yield lasting energy, won’t cause an insulin spike, and in moderation it’s an acceptable food for a well-rounded diet. For those on restricted diets, it’s a boon of fun, a healthy treat.
I hope you’ll love it too. Isn’t it pretty? SO festive and creative for summer. Serve it for breakfast in a bowl; or serve it outside in glasses to showcase its unique texture and beauty. Add a little honey herbal simple syrup. It’s kind of like bubble tea, so you could pour lightly sweetened herbal tea over it, and garnish with herbs from your garden.
I love it best with maple syrup and water, or maple syrup and milk.
Okay, fire away: little bubbles! 🙂 🙂 🙂
How long’s it been since you had tapioca? Don’t you love that this one doesn’t cook in milk? 🙂 But you can pour over that creamy coconut milk or cream or raw milk, as desired afterwards…
Here’s how they look with raw cream, espresso, and maple syrup poured over top…! Beautiful.