One of my favourite things about being a nutritionist is experimenting with new foods and flavours. From therapeutic foods (like turmeric to lower inflammation) to specific diets geared towards healing (like autoimmune or elimination diets), I've done a lot of research and self-experimentation over the years! This year I made a tasty discovery that I'm so excited to see gaining in popularity - Tiger Nuts. Not only are they suitable for those with tree nut allergies, they contain a special starch that benefits digestive health, lowers inflammation and promotes weight loss. I've shared some health info, my favourite brands and recipe links, and my own seasonal recipe for Tiger Nog.
Tiger Nuts - A Tasty Tuber
Oh the confusion names create. Tiger nuts are actually not a nut at all, but rather a vegetable. They grow under the ground and are a starchy tuber, similar to a yam. This makes tiger nuts an amazing substitute for those with coconut, seed or tree nut allergies. Tiger nuts can be soaked and turned into 'milks' or ground into flour and used in baking.
Tiger nuts can be extremely helpful for a range of conditions, including digestive, inflammatory and blood sugar disorders.
One of the main health benefits of tiger nuts is a special starch they contain called 'resistant starch'. Resistant starch is a prebiotic, meaning that it is food for the probiotics in your colon. These special starches don't get broken down in the stomach or small intestine (hence the name 'resistant') and move through the body intact until they reach the colon and become a feast for the beneficial bacteria in our gut. If you're eating fermented foods or taking a probiotic supplement, you're introducing beneficial probiotics into your body, but to maintain their populations, you need to feed them! Resistant starches maintain your helpful guests who are essential for digestive and immune health.
Resistant starches are also helpful for reducing inflammation, promoting weight loss and balancing blood sugar. Beneficial bacteria ferment prebiotics in the colon and turn them into short-chain fatty acids that are fuel for your colon. Having adequate amounts of short chain fatty acids help to prevent inflammatory bowel disorders. As an added bonus, extra short chain fatty acids that aren't used by the colon, enter the bloodstream where they help to lower overall inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity (beneficial for weight loss and diabetes) and boost metabolism.
1/2 cup tiger nuts, soaked in 2 and 1/2 cups of warm filtered water for 12-24 hours
1 Medjool date, pitted, OR 1 tsp raw honey
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
pinch sea salt
Soak tiger nuts to soften them and make them easier to blend.
Add nuts with soaking water to a blender along with remaining ingredients and blend until creamy. Strain through a nut milk bag, several layers of cheesecloth or repurposed nylons. Reserve strained mash and add to smoothies, oats or porridge. (Here's a recipe for a Spiced Coconut Squash Breakfast Porridge that uses tiger nut flour that I found super tasty.) You can also buy tiger nut flour. One of my favourite food bloggers shared a recipe for Tigernut Spice Cookies.
Leftover Tiger Nog will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days. Shake well before serving.
Not into making your own? Our lovely friend Rosa brought a few bottles of The Chufa Co to one of our workshops for us to try. Her daughter is working for the company and we're so excited to see them being sold at more and more stores. Find them here.