We Tried It: On Tiger Nuts, Prebiotics, and “Eating Like A Caveman”
A few months ago I was visiting the Gansevoort Market in the West Village when I happened upon a paleo-friendly stall selling nut milks and brownies that looked too good to pass up.
I’m perpetually in a phase of trying to cut down on grains and sugar (often unsuccessfully) and at this juncture I was looking for a gluten-free snack that I could feel good about (stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before).
“Much of the dialogue surrounding the modern obsession with having a “healthy gut” focuses on probiotics, but the human stomach also requires a healthy dose of prebiotics, in order for those probiotics to flourish.”
Enter tiger nuts. As I learned from the packaging of the multiple nut milks and snack bags that I purchased, tiger nuts are not a nut but a tiny tuber– a prehistoric root vegetable rich in prebiotic fiber that was supposedly consumed regularly by cavemen.
Prebiotic fiber is a type of digestion-friendly bacteria on which probiotics feed. Much of the dialogue surrounding the modern obsession with having a “healthy gut” focuses on probiotics, but the human stomach also requires a healthy dose of prebiotics, in order for the probiotics to flourish.
Most raw vegetables (and root vegetables in particular) are rich in prebiotic fiber, but often these vegetable aren’t consumed raw, as most people cook their sweet potatoes. tiger nuts, and other “root-nuts” like them can be consumed for the same effect. While the nut itself is very tough, it can be soaked or ground into flour to make nut milks or a grain-free flour substitute.
On this day on the Gansevoort Market, I purchased a mayan-chocolate brownie made with Mexican chili spice and tiger nut flour. As such, it was both gluten and grain-free, and I couldn’t taste the difference (which is true of most alternative flours, as long as you add chocolate). Since that time, I’ve become something of a tiger nut acolyte, as I love the “creamy” taste of tiger nut milk and I find the toughness of the raw tiger nuts oddly satisfying.
Tigernuts are a snack that you really have to gnaw on, but that’s also why I like them– they’re very filling and energizing, so our verdict is that they’re worth trying. Tiger nuts haven’t really made it into the mainstream conversation about superfoods yet, but they will.