What are tiger nuts?
Several months into my strict AIP, low FODMAP adventure and I was on the prowl for something that would satisfy my sweet tooth. You may have noticed already that AIP desserts tend to have one thing in common. The coconut. Coconut flour, coconut milk, coconut chips, creamed coconut....and any other coco-nutty variation on this you can think of. I dove head first into a variety of coconut based kitchen experiments. I used the flour for baking, added the milk to soups and smoothies and devoured thick coconut yoghurts. And I hurt. Not only did my stomach ache but my brain joined in as my emotions ran riot. As if my elimination wasn't already strict enough, I could not tolerate coconut either. Coconut oil is another story however, requiring no enzymes for digestion. But the fibre from the flesh and meat just doesn't work for me. There it was. In one fell swoop I had wiped out the vast majority of AIP desserts. I searched in vain for other substitute flours but if they were AIP compliant they weren't FODMAP friendly and vice versa. Then I stumbled across the humble tigernut. A food claimed to be hypo-allergenic, low FODMAP, AIP and choc full of awesome health benefits. How had I not heard of these before? And where could I find them? All I knew was I needed some immediately.
What are they?
Well for starters they are not a nut. Nor are they affiliated in any way with the nether regions of a large wild feline. No Tigers are harmed in the harvesting of these gems. They are in fact vegetable. A small starchy root commonly found is Africa and Spain, and a plentiful source of food for our paleolithic ancestors. They are also a delicious, sweet, almond-esque revelation that reduced me to tears of impeding dessert joy.
What are the health stats?
These tiny sweet morsels are packed to the rafters with valuable nutrients and health enhancing properties:
A rich source of resistant starch. A pre biotic that helps feed and support your good gut bacteria. It also enhances production of butyrate, a potent anti inflammatory which has been linked to reducing rates of colon cancer.
Rich in vitamin E and antioxidants, reducing oxidative stress.
Loaded with fibre, leaving you feeling fuller for longer and aiding weight loss. These little roots pack more fibre than most fruits and vegetables.
Exhibit antibacterial properties
Excellent source of protein for non meat eaters.
Rich in essential minerals - magnesium, iron , potassium and calcium.
A great source of healthy fats, similar in composition to olive oil.
How do I eat them?
Nuts - You can buy packets of these peeled and ready to go, and you can snack on them as you would nuts. I have posted a link at the bottom for my favourite brand.
Milk - In Spain, tigernuts are traditionally made into a milk called 'horchata de chufa'. This is a beautiful, creamy, naturally sweet milk perfect for those who cannot tolerate lactose or are on an AIP or low FODMAP diet where other milk alternatives are scarce. If you have some tiger nuts then the milk is so easy to make yourself at home. You just need a good blender and a nut milk bag. I will be posting a recipe for this shortly.
Flour - You can buy tiger nut flour easily online to use in your baking. There are two types of flour and the best is the finer, more powdery version. The slightly denser flour can sometimes have an almost gritty texture which works well in biscuits but not so well in breads and cakes.
In the coming weeks I will be posting a few recipes using tigernuts so you can create delicious AIP, low FODMAP treats too!
A word of caution. These little roots do pack a lot of fibre. Although they tout a lot of benefits for the digestive system, introduce them slowly if you have a sensitive tum. Try a few at a time for a couple of days and build up gradually to test your threshold. Don't guzzle them like your knocking back the popcorn as you may experience a bit of bloating while you adjust.
This blog tells an ongoing story about me and my journey back to health and happiness. A boho soul always looking for my next European adventure. I am a Coeliac, Yogi, paleo advocate, dreamer, Bon jovi connoisseur, sun worshipper, snuggly jumper wearer and wife to my lovely Paulie.