I popped home last weekend for a family reunion, and was presented with a little jar of wrinkly and very strange-looking tiger nuts by my brother. Tom works for Nav’i Organics, a specialist online superfood store, that sell these strange-looking (deceivingly non-nut) tiger nuts, and so had brought down a little jar for each of us to try. He claims they will be the next superfood to hit the UK health food stores as they have fantastic nutrient properties – they’re even said to have an almost identical macro-nutrient ratio to human breast milk! Seeing as I had never heard of a tiger nut before, I thought I would do some research into what they are, what ‘superfood’ benefits they can offer us and how we can eat them.
So, what is a tiger nut? First off, it’s not actually a nut… but is a type of root vegetable – a starchy tuber to be exact. Also known as chufa, nutgrass or yellow nutsedge, tiger nuts are grown in the ground in Africa and Spain, and are harvested in much the same way as a potato. They are said to have first been recognised as an important food source for humans c.4,000 years ago and supposedly made up 80% of a caveman’s diet….so these little products are very much part of the original paleo diet. There is also evidence that they were a highly valued food source in Egyptian times – there is even Egyptian art depicting the careful sorting of Tiger nuts!
WHAT ARE THE SUPERFOOD BENEFITS?
Tiger nuts are high in Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamin C & E and Omega 9. They are also a natural pre-biotic, high in resistant starch and fibre, which means it nourishes the good bacteria in your digestive tract. There has been a lot of hype about resistant starch in the health food world recently, as research indicates that this plant fibre could be linked to the prevention of diabetes and obesity….so stay tuned for further research developments on this topic! Unlike other starchy foods, tiger nuts are also a good source of healthy fats as they have an acid composition similar to olive oil which has minimal levels of poly-unsaturated fats – the kind that can be highly inflammatory. Finally, they are completely soy, dairy, grain, nut and seed free….they’re also gluten-free too, as long as they are handled in an appropriate facility. So they are a great alternate for allergen foods.
HOW SHOULD I EAT THEM?
First off, if you’re wondering what these strange looking things taste like….I would say they don’t have a huge amount of flavour, but they do have a slightly earthy/nutty taste with a hint of sweetness….and maybe an inkling of vanilla. They are both crunchy and chewy at the same time – slightly reminiscent of coconut flesh.
I love drizzling them with olive oil and toasting them in a frying pan until crispy, before sprinkling on salads. Or combining with dried fruits and nuts for a nutrient dense trail mix! You can also use tiger nut flour in baking as a substitute for standard white flour, although it doesn’t act in exactly the same way. However today I’m going to start with a basic recipe, homemade Tiger nut mylk – a delicious dairy-free milk alternative.
Here is my recipe for tiger nut milk – why not give it a go and let me know what you think!
2 cups tiger nuts
4 cups water
Nut milk pulp bag/ muslin cloth
2 medjool dates, pitted
a pinch of cinnamon
Add the tiger nuts to a jar and fill high with water. Put in the fridge to soak overnight (I do this for 24 hours).
Drain the tiger nuts and add them to your blender with 4 cups of water.
If trying out a seasonal twist add in the pitted dates and cinnamon now.
Blend on a high-speed for around 3 minutes until blitzed.
Pour through a nut milk pulp bag/muslin cloth, squeezing the bag to get all the milk out.
Keep in a air-tight bottle and store in the fridge.