Tigernuts! Wait, nuts? Nope, they aren’t nuts. A great sub for oats, gruel type cereals, and true nuts, tigernuts are high on my list for recipe development this spring.

bag of tigernutsThe starchy tuber of the Cyperus esculentus plant, tigernuts are also called chufa, earth almonds, nut grass, yellow nutsedge, earth nut, ground nut (…here I must digress… ever seen the movie “Best in Show? Highly recommended. Keep your ears peeled for the part about mixed nuts).

Native to tropical and Mediterranean regions, Tigernuts have been in the human diet for thousands of years, and were a valued food in ancient Egypt and Kenya (juicy tidbit for you ancestral diet folks).

These days, tigernuts are widely used to make the sweet milk-like beverage called horchata de chufa, or horchata. Originally of Muslim origins, horchata is now is widespread in Spain and several other countries such as the UK, France, Portugal, Argentina, and USA. Tigernuts are a common side dish in some African countries, and are also produced in some South American countries and the USA.

Packed with nutrition and goodness

Slightly sweet, with a nutty, earthy flavor, tigernuts are packed with nutrition. Looking at what they are, it’s no wonder – similar in function (but not related) to potatoes, tigernuts are tubers; the energy packets that certain plants create along their roots to serve as a nutrition and energy source for growth during the next growing season.

Tigernuts are naturally gluten (and nut!) free. If you have an allergy to soy, peanuts or tree nuts, find tigernuts from Organic Gemini; their factory is free of all three. Win!

Resistant starch: Tigernuts are high in resistant starches; undigestible carbohydrates that reach the colon intact, and serve to nourish the beneficial bacteria present in the gut. For those of us with gut health issues, this is a real plus.

If you are new to resistant starch in your diet however, start slow with tigernuts; a rapid shift in gut flora populations can result in gas and bloating. If you experience this, just back off a bit, then try increasing your intake of tigernuts by one or two ‘nuts’ per day. With that said, tigernuts are one of the lowest foods on allergen lists!

High Fiber: Tigernuts have a whopping 10 grams of fiber per 1 oz serving. This insoluble fiber is great for regulating blood sugar levels (diabetes, anyone?) and can help to lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Good source of fats: Tigernuts have a fat composition of about 73% monounsaturated, 18% saturated, and 9% polyunsaturated fats. The high level of monounsaturated fat provides a great dose of anti-inflammatory oils, similar in profile to olive, hazelnut, macadamia, avocado, and apricot kernel oils.

Antioxidant and antibacterial properties: Tigernuts are rich in Vitamins E and C, and oleic acids.

Mineral content: Tigernuts are rich in minerals, including phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron.

Nutritional profile

One one-ounce serving of tiger nuts (30 grams) contains:
calories: 120
carbohydrates: 19 grams
protein: 2 grams
fat: 7 grams
fiber: 10 grams
iron: 1.8 milligrams (10% DV)
magnesium: 28 milligrams (7% DV)
zinc: 1.1 milligrams (7% DV)
potassium: 215 milligrams (6% DV)
vitamin B6: 0.1 milligrams (5% DV)

Where the heck do you get tigernuts?

Tigernuts aren’t that well known yet in the general market. Even in my big city not many local stores carry them. I tend to order mine online – and I make sure to bulk up, because the packages aren’t very big, and I hate it when I run out!

Nom on the trail

I’ve been experimenting a lot with tigernuts for granolas and breakfast cereals lately. As I get those recipes dialed in for backcountry use, I’ll be sharing them on the blog in preparation for summer adventures. I’m stoked – having grown up loving granola, Cream o’ Wheat, and oatmeal (I know, I’m a weirdo), I’m psyched to have similar options available again! To really geek out on tigernuts, go here.

See you on the trail. With tigernuts!