Most health food aficionados have heard of tiger nuts by now. Called “chufa” in Spanish, these little gems are actually not nuts at all, but the tubers of the yellow nutsedge plant. Tiger nuts have been cultivated in Africa and Spain for thousands of years, but have only recently made their way into the health food markets of the U.S.
Tiger nuts offer myriad health benefits, from increased immunity to blood sugar regulation. They are also a great source of resistant starch, a type of fiber that acts as a food source for beneficial gut bacteria. Tiger nuts provide a healthy dose of magnesium, iron, and zinc as well. And because they are not, in fact, nuts, anyone with a nut allergy can enjoy them without worrying about any adverse reactions.
But other than eating tiger nuts whole as a snack, which can be an extremely chewy experience, what do you do with these little guys? Read on for a comprehensive list of ways to soak, cook, grind, and extract the goodness out of your next batch of tiger nuts.
The Basics: Whole Tiger Nuts (Dry vs. Soaked)
Dry tiger nuts, as shown above, are minimally processed. They are simply the tuber from the nut sedge plant that has been washed and dried. As such, they are a very healthy choice for anyone looking for a snack. Tiger nuts fit well into any healthy eating plan, including the most restrictive ones, which would be the paleo, keto, and AIP diets. (Although keto is marginal: One ounce of tiger nuts (about a handful) contains 19g of carbs. However, 10g are in the form of resistant starch, which is not digested but reaches the large intestine intact. I’ll leave it to the keto followers to decide this one for themselves.)
Soaking dry tiger nuts in water for 24 hours before eating will soften them and make the eating experience an easier one, as dry tiger nuts right from the bag can be hard and chewy all at the same time; they can be quite a workout for your jaws, in fact.
Tiger Nut Flour
The possibilities are endless here! Tiger nut flour is one of my FAVORITE gluten-free flours. It has a naturally sweet taste reminiscent of graham crackers. In fact, I often make both graham crackers and a cheese-type cracker (with nutritional yeast instead of cheese) with this flour. And several of my favorite cookie recipes, such as Cranberry Coconut Cookies and Molasses Spice Cookies, are made with a blend of tiger nut and arrowroot flours.
Tiger nut flour has a more dry, crumbly consistency than arrowroot or tapioca flour, somewhat like corn flour. You can bake cookies or crackers with only tiger nut flour, but I recommend adding powdered gelatin or eggs (if you have reintroduced them) as a binding agent. I’ve tried making quick breads with only tiger nut flour without much success. Those recipes work much better with one-third to one-half arrowroot or tapioca added to the tiger nut flour.
Horchata de Chufa (Tiger Nut Milk)
I used to make tiger nut milk every week from whole tiger nuts. It’s a two-day process and a bit time-consuming, but the great thing is that you end up with both tiger nut milk and ground tiger nuts that you can dry and turn into flour. However, I haven’t been able to turn tiger nuts into flour that’s as fine as what I can buy, so I prefer to just use my whole tiger nuts for snacking and buy my tiger nut flour on Amazon.
Anyway, if you’d like to try your hand at making tiger nut milk, this recipe from Delicious Obsessions is the one I always used. She includes a helpful video along with the instructions.
There you have it – a variety of ways to incorporate tiger nuts into your diet. If you know of other ways to enjoy them, please share in the comments below!