We’re nuts about the tiger nut! Learn all about this gluten-free wonder and grab a super easy recipe in today’s W.E. post.
Perhaps you’ve seen them sitting on the shelf of your local health food store, shriveled and mysterious, like some kind of brainy-looking nut. Or an edible rock. These, my friends, are tiger nuts. While relatively new to grocery store shelves stateside, tiger nuts have a long history of sustaining humans the world over with their rich protein, starch, and fibre content. In fact, the tiger nut, which is actually a tuber, is believed to have sustained some of the earliest-living Paleo humans — traces of the dried tubers have been found in predynastic tombs dating from 6000 years back!
Also known as earth almonds, tiger nuts are the tuberous root of Cyperus esculentus, a sedge plant that extends across much of the world and depending on location is classified as a crop, a weed, or a wild plant. Perspective is everything. While the grassy foliage may seem workaday, it’s what’s beneath the surface of the earth that truly earns this plant a nutritional gold star. These small almond-size tubers are chock full of fibre, protein, vitamins and prebiotic goodness, meaning they feed the good bacteria in your gut. Until recently tiger nuts were most often used in Spain to make horchata de chufa, but now that they’re becoming more widely known their many benefits and uses are gaining attention. Intrigued? Me too! Learn all about tiger nuts below, and be sure to scroll on for an easy gluten-free recipe.
What is it? Tiger nuts, or earth almonds, are the starchy root of the Cyperus esculentus sedge plant. Native across most of the Western Hemisphere, tiger nuts have long been prized for their high levels of starch (more than twice the amount of a potato), protein and fibre.
What are the benefits? Containing prebiotic digestive enzymes, which provide food for the probiotic bacteria in your gut, high-fibre tiger nuts can ease stomach distress, reduce bloating, and even reduce the risk of colon cancer. Their blood-pressure friendly lipid profile mirrors that of olive oil and can help reduce blood pressure and prevent thrombosis and heart disease. When ground into a powder, tiger nuts are also a wonderful gluten-free flour alternative to wheat-containing flours and their high protein content means tiger nuts are a great plant-based protein for those eschewing meat.
How do I use it? Dried tiger nuts can be found at many health food stores, either plain or flavored, and can be eaten whole. They can also be soaked and made into a sweet Spanish drink, known as horchata de chufa, or a drink similar to a nut milk. Tiger nuts can also be ground into a flour and used as a gluten-free flour alternative, or added to smoothies, yogurt, or cereals as a protein-boost.
Tiger Nut PB Cookies
Makes 12 cookies
1 organic egg
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-natural peanut butter (any nut butter will do, though)
1 tbsp tiger nut powder (flour or smoothie booster — both will work)
1/4 cup finely chopped dark chocolate
Pinch sea salt + more to top
Beat together egg and coconut sugar until light and smooth. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the peanut butter and mix on high until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the tiger nut flour and mix well. Scrape down sides of bowl and fold in chopped dark chocolate.
Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, but up to overnight.
When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out dough into 12 evenly-spaced balls. Top with sea salt and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown and firm. Allow to cool (or risk burning your tongue and just dig in!).
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