So it’s been a week and a half since we’ve been off Whole 30, and while we are back to eating most foods, we’re still trying to make sure we’re getting a lot of vegetables on our plates, and keeping a healthy relationship with grains.
One of the things that I am a lot more aware of post Whole-30 is understanding when I get full. The last few weeks, I’ve been surprised by how many times we’re in the middle of eating and all of a sudden, I’m aware that I’m full and that my body does not want any more food. This is a new sensation, y’all. To be fair, I was experiencing really bad heartburn pre-Whole 3o that made it hard for me to feel when I was hungry/full, however ever since we’ve reintroduced grains, and more specifically, gluten, I find out I’m full about halfway through my plate (I have a hard time with small serving sizes).
Interestingly, the feeling I get is a lot like a kid at the fair who had too much cotton candy–I feel kind of fuzzy, and like I have a sugar high of some sort. While this is by no means a gluten intolerance, it is enough motivation for me to experiment with GF foods, ESPECIALLY considering GF foods are ridiculously more expensive than their glutenated counterparts.
So why aren’t corn tortillas good enough?
I’m glad you asked, because 40+ days ago, I had no idea. Mainly, because corn has very little nutritional value. While it is a vegetable, even a sizable serving contains many times less the nutrient density of say, a bed of spinach. To add to that corn contains a high amount of prolamins. Prolamins are a protein that are particularly hard for the digestive system to completely break down. That means that if you have digestive issues, corn might not be the best food for you to be eating 50 lbs of on Taco Tuesdays.
To add to the battle cry, most corn has been genetically modified. This is important for a few reasons:
- GMO foods are engineered for herbicide tolerance. This gives way to higher use of toxic herbicides which in turn produce extra resistant weeds and bugs.
- GMO mega-corporations have a patent on their technologies that allows them to sue farmers, even if their crop is accidentally contaminated.
- We don’t have a clear idea of what exactly is being put in or used to modify foods, and that is a scary thought. My dad grew up in a town in Guatemala that is largely owned by Dole and Chiquita Banana for Banana plantations, and the water pollution was so bad that the community around them suffered a lot of health problems. The result of using such toxic chemicals in the mass production process was really detrimental for his home town. Hearing his stories makes me even more wary to buy products that encourage that kind of carelessness to the environment and to the health of the communities that live around these farms.
|| I am by no means an expert, but I do think there are a lot of potential environmental and even ethical risks in eating GMO foods. To read more about GMOs and how they affect farmer economies and the environment click here.
That having been said, there are some tortilla brands and corn that can be certified non-GMO, and I regularly buy those. I know Maseca just came out with a certified non-GMO masa, and Bob’s Red Mill carries one as well. But, in the interest of feeding everyone at my table, I think it’s always good to have an alternative on hand for those folks who might have a harder time digesting corn.
A few notes on cassava flour
So what is cassava flour? It’s the dried and pressed flour from cassava–a starchy tuber. Mis Latinos might recognize it better as yucca. I’ve heard a lot about cassava flour in the last few months. A lot of folks love it because in most cases it can be replaced at a 1:1 ratio for wheat flour. For this recipe, that was definitely true! I found cassava flour to be the perfect base for these tortillas. They have a nice nutty flavor (not overpowering) that doesn’t distract from the delicious fillings you eat with them! I also really love that depending on the size they can be good replacements for both corn and larger flour tortillas.
The reason I’ve struggled with cassava flour in the past, is that it can be flakey. Last week I was trying out a recipe for cassava flour pasta, and the dough kept crumbling. I was a little skeptical for that reason when I was trying out this recipe, because I think tortillas should be flexible and elastic enough to NOT break or crumble when folded or rolled up.
Enter coconut oil.
I added coconut oil to my recipe in the hope that it would help bind the flour a little better and it did wonders. As an extra secret, before you roll the dough into balls to make tortillas, lather your hands with a little extra coconut oil and give the dough an extra knead. The result are these beautiful tortillas that roll AND fold without breaking. They are also S T U R D Y, so you don’t have to be afraid of piling on your toppings when you’re eating tacos. These tortillas will not break under the pressure!
Most grocery stores, unless you live in a super urban environment, don’t sell cassava flour ( I looked everywhere). However, it’s pretty cheap to buy online. I bought this kind and really liked it. It’s a 2 lb bag, which makes each pound about $6. Each pound contains about 4 1/2 cups of flour, and each cup makes 8 taco tortillas or 5 large burrito tortillas. That makes 72 taco tortillas for $11.99 in comparison to these tortillas (which have the same ingredients!) that cost $13.95 for a pack of 8. I don’t know about your budget life, but that makes this a no-brainer for me.
I even used these to make my famous burritos and they held up really nicely. They didn’t leak, and they browned up well.
Two tools to never eat store bought tortillas again
Making home made tortillas was like a coming of age moment for me. I’m pretty sure I called my mom after I made them the first time to brag. But here’s the thing, y’all: they aren’t hard to make. They also take about 5 minutes time with the right tools! We’ve been making our own tortillas for about a year now, thanks to these three magic makers:
- Tortilla press. I picked this beauty up at the Portland Mercado, and it was imported directly from Mexico. It is heavy and bulky, but it is soooo beautiful, and I love that it’s so big that I can make both burrito and taco sized tortillas in them. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but basically, you put your dough in between these slabs of wood and press down on the handle to flatten it. It makes perfectly round tortillas, and when you add a piece of parchment paper to sandwich the dough, it makes the clean-up process a breeze!
Here are two alternatives:
This smaller version would be great if you’re just wanting to make taco tortillas or if you’re short on storage space. I grew up with one of these, and I love the cast iron because it’s heavy enough to get a good thin tortilla.
2. An electric griddle. This was one of those items on our wedding registry that I underestimated when we got married. We use this griddle for everything from burritos, to pancakes, to tortillas. Because you don’t cook tortillas in any kind of oil you need a nice even surface to cook them on. I have this exact griddle, and it takes about 3 minutes time total to cook a tortilla (I can cook four at a time one this, too!). The cleaning is also SUPER easy.
Love & strong tortillas,