There’s a new ‘nut’ in town, but it’s not actually a nut, and turns out it’s been around a long time. Meet the tiger nut. Here’s everything you need to know about this ancient super food. By Nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box Health Editor Melissa Fine.
If it’s not a nut, what is it?
The tiger nut is actually a tiny tuber (root vegetable) of the yellow nutsedge, a grassy-looking African plant. Tiger nuts were used as a food source and in traditional medicine for early civilisations, including the Chinese and Persians.
“The Persians were so fond of tiger nuts that during the Middle Ages, after their expansion across the north of Africa, they introduced the root vegetable to Europe and the Mediterranean,” says the Terra Firma team - whose Tigernuts are our current snack obsession in the GMB office.
What do tiger nuts look and taste like?
Although related to the sweet potato and potato, the tiger nut looks and tastes much more like a nut (hence the name) than it does a root veg.
Roughly the size of a chickpea, the tiger nut has a golden-brown, slightly wrinkled-looking, edible shell. Crisp on the outside and creamier and light brown on the inside, it has a nice chew and a flavour profile that’s a mix of earthy, slightly sweet and coconut-y.
What are the nutritional benefits of the tiger nut?
Like nuts, tiger nuts are small in size but dense in nutrients like:
- Gut-loving resistant starch - similar to insoluble fibre, resistant starch cannot be digested in the stomach or small intestine. Resistant starch travels to the colon (the large intestine) where it acts as a ‘prebiotic’ – food for our body’s good gut bacteria, AKA your probiotics. Resistant starch may also help keep you fuller for longer and stabilise blood sugar.
- Heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, primarily as oleic acid, the same kind that you get from olive oil and avocado.
- Vitamins and minerals, including bone building calcium and phosphorous, and antioxidant rich vitamins C and E.
- …And they’re nut-free! Nut allergy peeps rejoice!
How do you eat tiger nuts?
- Add to a homemade trail mix. We love tiger nuts mixed with coconut flakes, cacao nibs and raw almonds for a high fibre, low sugar combo.
- Add a handful to your salad, or roughly chop and stir through quinoa or brown rice for a more interesting side dish.
- Add tiger nut flour to your oats and make porridge. If plain old porridge doesn’t keep you full, you bet it will with the addition of tiger nut. We have our eye on this Tasty Tigernut Porridge with vanilla, cinnamon and banana from Terra Firma. If plain old porridge doesn’t keep you full, we bet it will with the addition of tiger nut.
- Straight up, peeled or unpeeled (depending how much crunch factor you’d like) – could this be the new almond of healthy snacking?
What health foods do you think will trend in 2016?