Paleo Plan

Want something bready? Eat this.

I’m a pretty strict Paleo eater, especially lately.  I find that when I veer off the path, I feel like crap.  Sugar makes me feel like a heroin addict (not that I would know…), replete with the “I’ll do anything to get more of that stuff” sensation.  Grains have a similar effect, and dairy is my most merciless enemy.  I was born to eat this way, whether I like it or not.

If there’s one thing I miss on my Paleo diet, though, it’s bread; I think most of us can probably say that.  That rich source of easy-to-use carbohydrates. That soft, supple mouth feel.  The way it browns on the outside, creating a perfectly crispy crust.  It’s a temptation that I regularly give in to.  It’s just that I’ve figured out a way to make it Paleo(ish).

As much as I’d like to believe that I could thrive on meat and vegetables alone, after a ridiculous amount of experimentation on myself, it’s become overwhelmingly clear that I need a decent source of carbohydrates in my diet.  And fruits & vegetables just don’t cut it. I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m so active, and you may be the same: maybe you’re an athlete, or you just have a crazy high metabolism, or you’re too skinny and need more carbs to keep weight on.

Some of us just need more carbs than others.  How do you know if you need more? If you’ve been on the Paleo diet for at least a month and your energy levels have plummeted, you may need more carbs.  You also may need more fat or more protein or just more calories in general, so try that first.  But if you’ve already tried eating a whole cow slathered in olive oil every day for a while and you’re still grumpy, groggy, tired, performing poorly, or losing too much weight, here’s a solution: tapioca.  That is, if you don’t love sweet potatoes and squash, which should be your first choice for extra carbs, since they have way more nutrients in them than tapioca.

What is tapioca?
What you’ve probably conjured in your mind is the tapioca pudding that your grandmother used to make – super sweet, really sticky little balls. Well, it does come in ball form, but you can also buy it as flour (or starch – same thing). For you tea connoisseurs, it’s also the “boba” in your boba tea.

Tapioca, also known as cassava, cassada, cassaba, yuca (not to be confused with yucca), akpu, kabba, boba, and mushu, among many other things, is the starch of the root of a woody shrub in the spurge family. It’s the third largest source for carbohydrates in the WORLD. That’s why it has so many names – it’s found in most parts of the world, but is native to South America. It’s a fantastic source of food, but only if it’s processed appropriately. If you just sit down and eat a raw cassava root, there’s a good chance you’ll get cyanide poisoning and die, so don’t do it. Leave it up to the pros to soak, ferment or cook it and then put it in a tidy package for you.

Is it Paleo?
While tapioca is not technically on some Paleo experts’ lists of acceptable foods for Paleo eaters, it’s not a grain, and it’s not a legume. It’s certainly not dairy or refined sugar, and it’s not a potato, so I’m calling it good. I love – LOVE – bread, and this yummy substance makes sticky, stretchy, bread-like foods. I would be lying to you if I said it offered much in the way of nutrients to your diet besides carbohydrates. It’s gluten free, of course, but it is by far the stickiest, stretchiest food I’ve found. This, my friends, is your answer to tortillas.

You can make crêpes/tortillas, pancakes, muffins, cakes, bread, or whatever you want out of this stuff. I just happen to like very simple recipes, so I make crêpes. I eat them with my egg scrambles. If I need a dessert once in a while, I’ll cook one up and put a bit of honey and coconut oil on it. Or I’ll wrap some salmon salad up in one. All good options. If anyone has any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Here’s the recipe:

Tapioca Crêpes
(makes 5-7 crepes)

1 C Tapioca Flour (or “Starch” – same thing)
1 C Organic Coconut Milk (Native Forest cans contain no BPA)
1 Pasture Raised Egg

1. Mix all the ingredients well in a bowl.
2. Heat up a non-stick pan on medium until a drop of water sizzles in it.
3. Pour in about 1/3 cup of the mixture and tilt the pan in all directions to spread out batter to desired thickness.
4. Cook both sides until very lightly brown (2-3 minutes on each side).
5. Add salt and any other herbs (sweet or savory).
6. Enjoy!

Allergen Note: If you can not eat eggs, you can substitute the egg for 2 tablespoons of water and it turns out just as well.

I usually make a double batch, cook one crêpe for myself and put the rest of the batter in a mason jar or other tupperware (preferably not plastic) and store it in the fridge for up to a week.  If you make 5 per batch, they’re each about 180 calories, 23 grams carbs, 9 grams fat and 2 grams protein.  For comparison’s sake, a wheat tortilla of about the same size contains 130 calories, 31 grams carbs, 2 grams fat and 5 grams protein.

If you don’t reside in a health food mecca like I do, and your local grocery store doesn’t carry tapioca, here’s a place where you can buy it online. Oh, and if you don’t like my crêpe recipe, if you google “tapioca recipes”, you’ll come up with 818,000 results (which I won’t list here), so knock yourself out. If you do try the crêpes, let me know how you like them!

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54 Comments

  1. Thanks for this! Sounds like a great bread alternative to try with my 5 children who are missing bread terribly! Can you share the brand name and where you buy?

    • Neely

      The brand name of the flour? They definitely don’t sell the crepes anywhere – you have to make them yourself. Bob’s Redmill sells it and I think there’s a link to it in the post.

  2. Elyn Lytton

    I love these! I tried them with a little honey and cinnamon and had them with my eggs in the morning. Thanks!

  3. This will come in handy thanks!!

  4. Do you think I could substitute the flour and use quinoa flour?

    • @Lana – Well, it would no longer be Paleo, and I don’t think it would be stretchy and maleable like the tapioca flour, but it’s your choice!

  5. WriteLegends

    Is there an alternative to the coconut milk for this? (The hardest part of this diet for me is working around the need for coconut)

    • @WriteLegends – I’ve heard of people using almond milk, or you can do it with just water, actually.

  6. Made these this morning. It’s hard to make them thin, but the edges are crispy and with a little fruit it’s hard to tell the difference. My daughter resists food that is labeled ‘healthy’, but she loved these. Thanks!

  7. Linda

    OMG – I was SOOOo happy to read this! I truly LOL when I read the part about feeling like a heroin addict when it comes to sugar and, and you have no idea how hard it is for me to avoid breads…. I was looking up whether tapioca is a paleo food when I saw the enticing crepes (another one of my huge-true-food-loves, along with boba tea!) on your blog. So, I’m a new ‘fan’, and just wanted to say thank you!

  8. Why do you say that tapioca is not technically paleo? I see no reason why it it would not be. It’s real food, mostly starch, great for people who need more carbs (athletes for example).

    • Paul – I don’t know why I said that. I amended the post to reflect what I actually think about tapioca. I think it’s perfectly Paleo – it’s just not on some Paleo writers’/experts’ lists of acceptable foods.

  9. Yanique

    I’m so excited to make these since I’ve been looking for something to “hold things together” when I’m on the go. I absolutely love this site!

  10. These…are…delicious!!! They taste just like the “pannekoeken” my Dutch grandmother would make us when we were kids. THANKS!

  11. WOW. We tried these yesterday for my daughter, who can’t eat wheat, corn or rice. Amazing….added a little sugar and made p b and j crepe roll ups for lunch, toasted them (in quarters) with a little salt..tasted like pita chips..baked them with pizza sauce and cheese, mini pizzas. She was so happy :)

  12. hello Grace just wondering what p b and j crepe roll ups are? thank you :-)

  13. Thanks so much for posting this recipe! I have been looking for a home made alternative to Pure Wraps and we seem to do well with some tapioca in our diet, so I will definitely be trying them this weekend – thanks again!

  14. I just found your site and it is really helping me learn how to eat paleo.. i do have a question on how you feel about agave syrup ..see honey is ok…also on the sweetener xylitol?..

  15. Awesome. I’ve got a version similar version that is based more on the Brazilian Flat breads and meant for a more savory purpose, but this, is very simple and could be a nice switch-up. I really struggled for a while with the breads as well.

    Cam

  16. I really identify with feeling like a heroin addict – If I eat even a small amount of grain, I become desperate to have more! Can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  17. This recipe is amazing, easy and so versatile. I just made a batch of fairly small ones…ate the first with a squeeze of lime juice and a drizzle of honey. HEAVENLY! Thanks for the recipe :)

  18. Hi, I love this idea, but can’t tolerate eggs. Any ideas about how to do it without?
    Thanks for all your great advice.
    Best,
    Joy

    • Neely Quinn

      Joy – You can use 1 tbs of water per egg as a substitute.

  19. I am really liking this site, but I have an allergy to nuts (hence, no almond flour or coconut oil/waster for me!). What can I substitute for nuts?

    • Neely Quinn

      Hi Chris – I’m sorry to ask a stupid question, but are you sure you’re allergic to coconut products? My substitution for almond flour is usually a half/half mix of tapioca flour and coconut flour. That’s why I ask. Otherwise there’s always sweet potato flour now… Coconut oil just sub for bacon grease, olive oil, lard, tallow, or ghee if you can handle dairy.

  20. Yes, very sure about the allergies. All tree nuts and some drupes. . . . .anaphylactic shock type reaction to these foods. Which makes it very hard to go Paleo all the way, unfortunately. Or, even just gluten free.

  21. I admit I was hungry but I ate half of the first one plain before I could slow down to even put anything on it. Way better than my previous attempt at gluten free crepes, which fell to pieces in the frying pan. Even better when I put honey on it.

  22. Andrea

    Hi Neely,

    Thank you so much for you blog, very informative and I love the way you write. I am slowly getting into ‘paleo’ but finding it a bit hard as I don’t know/like/have time to cook, therefore my animal protein intake relies on tinned fish, eggs and dairy! Anyway, I will get there. I live in the UK and am finding it hard to find tapioca. However, there is a local asian shop which sells water chestnut flour (also known as Shingoda Power) so I was wondering if this would be ok to use. Cheers.

    • Neely Quinn

      Andrea – I’ve never used water chestnut flour. Sounds intriguing! Please let me know how it goes. You can also probably find tapioca flour on amazon. We can in the states. If not amazon, somewhere around you online must sell it!

  23. These were really spongy, gel-like in my mouth. Is that how they are supposed to taste? I cooked several, all light brown…. Maybe it’s a texture thing with me, but usually I don’t have any issues. Curious to see if that is how they are.

    • Neely Quinn

      Tera – The thinner they are the less spongy they are. You can also play around with the ratio of coconut milk/eggs/tapioca and add things like pumpkin or banana to switch it up and change the consistency.

  24. Jennifer

    I made these into chips today – they were amazing!!! I cooked them in the pan, then brushed them olive oil, sprinkled a little salt and popped them onto a cookie sheet into a 350* oven until they were crispy.

  25. Pao de quesu.. Brazilian recipe for cheese bread. I haven’t looked up the calories., question whether it’s Paleo however it’s fantastic!!

    1 cup of Tapioka flour
    3/4 cup of organic sour cream- no carrageenan
    3/4 cup or Parmesan cheese

    Mix well, roll into balls bake for 20 min on 350..
    Don’t brown th or check on th too much, so if your ovens hot cook less or turn it down.
    Eat them hot… Enjoy!

  26. abgirl

    This was fantastic! I had a chicken, bacon & avocado ‘wrap’ and savoured every mouthful – thank you so much!!

  27. abgirl

    @Andrea in the UK – I got my tapioca flour online from healthysupplies.co.uk it was £2.89 for a 1kg bag :)

  28. Hey, I like your style…and tapioca, so I’m glad you support the use of it.

  29. For those having trouble finding coconut flour, almond flour, or tapioca flour. Try either Whole Foods, Win Co, or any store having bulk foods. Win Co (in Nevada, USA) is my favorite. Very reasonable price, no shipping, instant gratification.

  30. Also, I love this recipe very simple, quick, and goes in the green pancake flip pan like a dream. My first attempt was kind of spongy in the middle so I tried thinning them out. Much better. Going to make some more today, cut into “tortilla chips” and make homemade salsa. Can’t wait to try this out. I’m not big on bread but I do miss the occasional chip.

  31. Patrick

    You’re going to laugh, but this post/recipe is the reason I switched to the paleo diet. I had steadfastly held to my sprouted whole wheat bread and quinoa/amaranth, thinking that was the way to go. (I’ve discovered less bad doesn’t mean good) Now I finally have a bread alternative for my post-crossfit turkey sandwiches and carbs as needed throughout the day.

    I appreciate that this recipe is simple and easy as I’m single and eat pretty plain. The tweaks I’ve done on it are to substitute 1/4 c almond flour and 1/4 c coconut flour for half of it. That mixes in some fiber/protein/fat and you still get the carb benefit of tapioca but in reduced quantity. If you use coconut flour, bump up the milk required.

    Another twist is to use some almond milk as well as the coconut milk. I’ve been disappointed with the additional ingredients/perservatives in the most commonly found coconut/almond milk, so I’ve started making my own. I’ll be trying other nut milks to see how they work.

    Thanks!

  32. I honesty don’t crave bread. It’s yummy and delicious and filling and all, but I feel great. The only thing is, after four weeks of Paleo, my muscles are all suddenly whacked out. I have had midnight leg cramps here and there, which is helped by evening stretches, but today I can feel my muscles tweaking out, shaking, and cramping like something electrical is out of sorts. I eat a lot of organic vegetables, greens, eggs, healthy fats, grass-fed beef, salmon, sweet potatoes, avocados, spirulina, and plenty of spring water. As far as I know, I’m getting all my minerals, fats, proteins, vitamins, so is it that my body needs more carbohydrates than a sweet potato can bring? What is really confusing is that I never felt this way eating a raw food diet. I guess I’ll try adding white rice and tapioca to my daily meal plan. Which sounds crazy, I just don’t know what else to do at this point.

  33. I loved this recipe! It has made going paleo so much more fun. I use them as a wrap for lunch or dinner. I also felt like I needed more carbs day to day. Seems to give me energy sometimes. However I do try to eat low carb. I made them egg free due to my high cholestral…and they were delicious. Thanks, I have learned a lot here. Hmmm I’m wondering if arrowroot could be substituted?
    I have heard arrowroot is good for you too.

  34. These sound delish – and so easy! Has anyone tried freezing them? I’d love to have a stash on hand for my husband and son to grab when they need a “bread” fix.

  35. Hello Neely,

    Thank you for the recipe. I made these this morning and what can I say – wow! My husband wolfed these down almost faster than I could make them. In the past I had tried various GF “pancakes” (mostly yuck) and even Paleo pancakes just didn’t do it for me. The funny thing is that I had a bag of tapioca starch in the pantry for ages and just never knew what to do with it (I know, should have looked it up on the Internet…).

    And the simplicity of it! 3 ingredients, a bowl, minimal effort and time et voilà … Crêpes.

    I will definitely be making these more often, also as some have suggested, use them for wraps or burritos.

    Daniela

  36. Hello Neely,

    I am just starting on the Paleo Plan and have a question. I am 60Lbs overweight, all my joints hurt and am frequently out of energy. Over the last 2 months I have tried going on a 1200-1300 calorie diet and lost about 7 lbs. On the Paleo plan if I want to lose weight should I still count my calories?

    • Julie – I’d eat to satiety as well as you can for about a month on Paleo. Then if you find you’re not losing weight, look at your calories.

  37. This recipe is wonderful. I have been paleo for 2 1/2 years and never found anything that made a good packable lunch. Hasn’t been a big deal for us, but now that my son is getting to school age, packable paleo lunches are getting more important. Thank you.

  38. If you read Dr. Loren Cordain’s new book, tapicoa/casssava has the same negative anti-nutrients as white potatoes and he doesn’t recommend including this in a Paleo diet. Is there some other research contradicting what he presented?

    • LeB – I think if we all listened to what Dr. Cordain said, we’d all be very hungry ;) I have a lot of respect for him, but there are anti-nutrients in everything, and we have to figure out what works for our own bodies. I can eat white potatoes, but my husband can’t (joint pain). I can eat tapioca, but my friend can’t (fatigue, bloating). So in my opinion, root vegetables are a way better option for you than glutenous grains as a carb source (that is, unless your body tolerates gluten very well). To each her own.

  39. Just a suggestion- sago (tapioca) pudding cooked in coconut milk/cream…a traditional Thai dessert. I would not add any sugar of course.

  40. Sunny2da2

    I made a paleo lemon curd and oh what a dangerous combination these make!!! Mine are kind of soggy but I had to cook them in a little coconut oil because I only have stainless steel pans and they would have stuck. I have the rest laying out on the counter “drying”. Hoping it works! Otherwise it’s lemon curd crepes instead of wraps… Not that I would mind. :)

  41. ColleenW

    thanks for this recipe ,,,I have been craving bread and this looks like it will do it

  42. I think the questionable Paleo category comes from the fact that you don’t eat it in it’s original form (like legumes, corn, grains, etc) It has to be “manufactured” even though nutritionally it is not grain, legume, etc. I didn’t even know that thing about the cyanide…can’t wait to try these. I just stumbled in tapioca to coat chicken bites for crispier nuggets. Thanks!

  43. Rachael

    I made these this morning and had high hopes…they looked alright, but turned out super gummy/chewy/gross. I couldn’t eat them. :(

    • Try sticking a toothpick in to test whether they are fully cooked, if not, you will want to let them cook a little longer and this should reduce the “gummyness”. Good luck.

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