Ever heard of tiger nut butter? This trendy superfood is gaining traction for its health benefits and the fact that it resembles a traditional nut butter but isn’t actually made from nuts at all. It’s suitable for a range of diets, including Whole 30 and paleo, and the fun name (similar to the once-highly-touted acai berry) doesn’t hurt either.
But what exactly is tiger nut butter? What are tiger nuts? What are the health benefits, and how can you make tiger nut butter (as well as use tiger nuts in other ways in the kitchen)?
We’re answering all this and more. Plus, we’ll include our 8 favorite recipes for tiger nut butter and tiger nuts.
What is a Tiger Nut?
Tiger nuts, sometimes also spelled “tigernuts,” are not nuts at all. A tiger nut is really a tuber, or root vegetable — a class of vegetables that grow underground and are usually pretty starchy. Potatoes, yams and taro are all tuber vegetables, for example. Tiger nuts fall into this family of vegetables, too. They have a taste that’s been described as nutty and slightly sweet, similar to almonds or pecans. They look a little like chickpeas and sport some stripes, hence the tiger name.
Tiger nuts are nothing new, despite their current popularity, though. Tiger nuts were cultivated in Neolithic Egypt. After that, they spread to the surrounding regions of North Africa and even to Spain over the centuries (you may have tried horchata made with tiger nuts if you’ve ever been to Spain).
While tiger nuts are getting a fair amount of attention for their use as a butter, which makes a nice alternative to nut-based butters, tiger nuts can be used in a variety of other ways. Tiger nuts can be found in milk form (similar to almond milk) and flour form (similar to sorghum flour or potato flour). They can be made into oil, similar to avocado oil or coconut oil. They’re also used roasted as an addition to dishes where you’d normally find other “nuts,” such as granola.
What are the Health Benefits of Tiger Nuts?
Tiger nuts are primarily gaining traction in the health food world thanks to their status as a superfood.
They’re high in starchy fiber, and they’re a good source of protein. Tiger nuts also contain lots of magnesium, calcium and Vitamins C and E. They’re beneficial in lowering cholesterol and promoting digestive health (but be careful — they’re actually so high in fiber that they may not be a good fit for those with certain digestive issues; if that’s a concern for you, you’ll want to talk to your doctor). Other reported benefits have included increased immunity, increased libido and reduced risk of heart disease.
One ounce of tiger nuts is about 110 or so calories, and within that ounce, you’ll get up to 7 grams of fiber, 278% of your daily value of Vitamin E and up to 40% of your daily value of iron. You’ll also get up to 11% of your daily value of phosphorus.
And, since tiger nuts are suitable for a wide range of diets — including paleo, Whole 30, gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free — just about everyone can eat them, regardless of any other allergen sensitivities or special dietary needs. In fact, you’ll see tiger nuts promoted heavily for use in AIP-friendly recipes for the AIP (autoimmune protocol) diet, which helps to reduce inflammation and pain in those suffering from autoimmune diseases such as IBD, celiac disease and arthritis.
Are There any Nutritional Downsides to Eating Tiger Nuts?
Not even superfoods are perfect. As is the case with every food and beverage, you’ll want to eat your tiger nuts in moderation, as there are a few nutritional downsides to take into consideration.
You won’t find a ton of protein in tiger nuts, at least not compared to other, real nuts, such as almonds.
Tiger nuts are also a source of antinutrients, or substances that prevent your body from absorbing some of the good nutrients you consume.
Finally, tiger nuts are pretty calorie-dense, just like any real nut, so you’ll want to watch your consumption if you’re likewise watching your calorie intake.
Where to Buy Tiger Nuts
If you want to purchase tiger nuts for yourself and give them a try, your best bet is to search for tiger nut butter. The butter is much easier to find compared to the raw tiger nuts. You can usually find tiger nut butter at any local health food store.
If shopping online, one place to look is Roots, a brand that offers a range of butter, including tiger nut butter with extra, fun flavors, such as honey and cinnamon.
If you really do want those whole, raw tiger nuts, though, whether to make your own tiger nut butter or to make another tasty treat, you can find raw tiger nuts available on Amazon, as well as on the aptly-named nuts.com.
How to Use Tiger Nut Butter
You can use your tiger nut butter any way that you’d use a traditional peanut or almond butter. Put it in a sandwich with your favorite jelly. Mix it into some cookies. Use it as a dip for your apples or celery. Spread some on your waffle before covering it with syrup. Or eat it straight out of the jar.
However you like to use your favorite brand of peanut butter, you can use tiger nut butter in the same way.
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How to Make Tiger Nut Butter
Making your own tiger nut butter at home is pretty easy. It only requires two ingredients, and the only special equipment you’ll need is a food processor or heavy-duty blender.
According to organic cooking blog Organically Addison, all you’ll need is 1 cup tiger nut flour and 1/4 cup coconut oil. Just add both to your food processor and process the mixture on high until the mixture is smooth, creamy and peanut butter-like in texture, stopping the processor as needed to scrape down the sides with a spatula. From there, you can transfer your tiger nut butter to a jar for safekeeping in the fridge.
If you’re using whole tiger nuts to make tiger nut butter, rather than tiger nut flour, you’ll just want to process the nuts first until they’re fine enough to resemble flour. Then, add your other ingredients to the food processor.
Our Favorite Tiger Nut and Tiger Nut Butter Recipes
Now that you have your tiger nut butter (or just some tiger nuts), how can you use it to create something delicious and healthy, beyond merely whipping up a peanut butter lookalike? We have a few ideas.
1. Tiger Nut Butter Cups
Say goodbye to your favorite peanut butter cups — these tiger nut butter cups are about to become your new favorite sweet treat. They come together in about 15 minutes and then chill for an hour. Which means you’re less than 2 hours away from a batch of homemade candy.
This recipe includes instructions for making your tiger nut butter from scratch, but you can also use any tiger nut butter that you might have on hand. The “chocolate” exterior of the cups is made from a mix of carob powder, coconut oil, palm shortening and honey.
2. Tiger Nut Butter Shortbread Cookies
Despite the name, these tiger nut butter shortbread cookies don’t actually contain tiger nut butter. Instead, they combine the ingredients that you’d normally use for tiger nut butter, plus the ingredients you’d use for a gluten-free, paleo cookie, and combine them all for a delicious, peanut butter-chocolate chip shortbread cookie that’ll be difficult to resist.
Suitable for a range of specialty diets, the cookies only include tiger nut flour, tapioca starch, palm oil, coconut oil, coconut palm sugar, baking soda, Himalayan pink salt and dark chocolate chips.
3. Tiger Nut Energy Balls
If you love those peanut butter or date energy balls that are easy to make, easy to take on the go and an easy way to get in a healthful snack, you’ll love these tiger nut butter balls that are paleo, soy-free, grain-free, nut-free, gluten-free and dairy-free. They combine tiger nut flour with coconut, dates and a dash of cinnamon and sea salt for a portable energy bite that everyone in the family will love.
4. Tiger Nut Butter Balls (the Chocolate Version)
But if you looked at that tiger nut butter energy ball recipe and thought, what that really could use is some chocolate, then you’re going to want to try this recipe out instead.
On the sweeter side and definitely a treat versus a pre-workout snack, these tiger nut butter balls are similar to the chocolate-covered peanut butter Buckeye balls that you might find around Christmastime in the Midwest. The filling is made up of tiger nut butter (the recipe includes separate instructions on how to make your own), while the exterior “chocolate” coating is made up of coconut cream, coconut oil, carob powder and maple syrup, with a little extra gelatin powder to help it all stay together.
5. Tiger Nut Butter Muffins
For a yummy, healthful (gluten-free) way to start your day, whip up a batch of tiger nut butter muffins. This recipe makes it easy to create filling, tasty, bakery-ready muffins in under an hour. While it does include dairy and other nuts, there’s an option to swap those out in case you need to keep your kitchen nut-free and dairy-free. Plus, you can further customize the recipe to make fun muffin flavors, such as an apple streusel muffin, carrot cake muffin or chocolate walnut chunk muffin.
6. Paleo Brownie Cookie Bars
For something totally decadent, try these paleo brownie cookie bars that combine all the goodness of a brownie with all the greatness of a cookie. Brownie batter is cooked atop a cookie dough, and when it’s done, you spread a sweet maple butter on top of it all. The tiger nut flour is crucial for the cookie dough and forms the dough base alongside smaller portions of coconut flour.
7. Tiger Nut Breaded Shrimp
But don’t think that tiger nut butter and tiger nut flour are only useful in sweet recipes. Tiger nuts have their place in savory recipes as well. You can use tiger nuts to create tiger nut flour and then use that flour as a breading for some of your favorite fried recipes — like this fried shrimp recipe.
8. Tiger Nut Sweet Potato Casserole
Similarly, you can use tiger nuts in your favorite holiday side dishes, such as with this recipe for a sweet potato casserole topped with tiger nuts. You’ll need both sliced tiger nuts and tiger nut flour for this recipe.
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Tips for Cooking with Tiger Nuts
Not getting quite the result you want from your tiger nut recipes? You may need to try one of two solutions.
Use a Sifter
If you find that the texture of your tiger nut butter or your tiger nut flour isn’t quite as smooth as you’d like, and your food processor or blender just isn’t blending the nuts down any further, you might want to use a sifter to further remove any of the larger nut particles from your mixture. Just make sure you do this before you add any oil or other ingredients to the ground nuts.
Use a Binder
If you’re trying to use tiger nut flour in one of your favorite baking recipes, and the texture just isn’t right, it may be because you need a more robust binder. In baking, binders keep your cake or other items together while also keeping it light. Try adding tapioca starch to your tiger nut flour the next time you swap it out for regular flour in your recipe.
Your New Favorite Not-a-Nut
So, what are you waiting for? Tiger nuts may just be your new favorite nut that’s not really a nut. With a whole lot of health benefits and many versatile ways to use this tuber vegetable, tiger nuts provide an easy alternative to nut-based butters and other nut-based products.
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