Nuts are delicious, but if your child is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts or both, this tasty and nutritious group of foods is totally out. There is a food new to the U.S. that is just beginning to get more popular and that can serve as a safe alternative to nuts. Although it isn’t actually a nut, the tiger nut is a tasty new superfood you might want to try.
What Exactly Are Tiger Nuts?
The name is misleading, as this food is not a nut at all. It is actually a tuber, like a potato. The plant goes by several names, but in the U.S. it is most commonly known as yellow nutsedge. To farmers and gardeners, nutsedge is an insidious weed, difficult to eliminate. However, since ancient times, people have cultivated and eaten the tubers from this plant
Today, the small, shriveled tubers have been christened “tiger nuts,” and they are becoming more popular with people on paleo diets and those who are interested in the latest superfoods. Tiger nuts have crunchy exteriors and soft insides. The taste has been described as earthy, nutty, smoky and even milky. They are not too easy to find just yet, but you can buy them online, whole or as flour.
Health Benefits of Tiger Nuts
The tiger nut is being named a superfood because of its nutrients and health benefits. As a tuber, it is starchier than a true nut, but not as starchy as a potato. It also has more protein than other tubers, but not as much as true nuts. Tiger nuts also have a lot of fiber and antioxidants, and have been found to have antibacterial properties. Some of the potential health benefits of tiger nuts include lowering cholesterol, reducing gas, helping support weight loss and lowering blood sugar.
Tiger Nuts as a Nut Alternative
Perhaps best of all for parents of kids with nut allergies, tiger nuts are safe. They are not related to nuts at all and can be eaten by anyone with a nut allergy. They are still not common in North America but are commonly eaten in North Africa, and in Spain, where they are called chufa, tiger nuts are made into a milk substitute. This can be used by children with milk allergies.
The simplest way to eat tiger nuts is whole as a snack. Online, you’ll also find packaged foods made with tiger nuts, like granola. You can use the flour made from tiger nuts in any baking recipe. It can serve as an alternative to wheat flour for anyone with a gluten intolerance and as a substitute for nut flours, like almond flour, in gluten-free recipes.
Otherwise, use tiger nuts wherever you would use nuts: in pancakes, in cookies, in homemade granola bars or snack mix, on salads or anywhere else they taste good. You can even make a veggie burger using ground tiger nuts. The possibilities are nearly endless, so get creative and look online for recipes and inspiration.