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Tigernut Flour

Tigernuts have been around for a few years, but it wasn’t until this summer that I took some time to fully experiment with it in my baking and cooking.  I know summertime isn’t always the best time for some of you to bake, yet for me it’s a time to slow down and explore new areas of cooking.

Cornbread with Tigernut Flour

Cornbread with Tigernut Flour

I’ve had tigernut flour on my radar for quite awhile, so here is what I learned:

What are Tigernuts?

Despite the name, tigernuts are not really nuts at all (and they’re not from tigers, either). They are the tubers of a grass that grows in Northern Africa and the Mediterranean. The flour that is ground from these roots is naturally gluten-free and Paleo since it comes from a root, not a grain.

Gluten-Free Living magazine says in its blog (August, 2015) that tiger nuts are “high in fiber, iron, potassium, protein, magnesium, zinc and vitamins E and C, tiger nuts were the primary food of our ancient ancestors who lived in East Africa between 2.4 million and 1.4 million years ago, according to a 2014 Oxford University study. One ounce of these crunchy root vegetables contains 40 percent of the recommended daily fiber intake.” By my calculations, that means that just 1 ounce contains 10 grams of fiber. That’s a lot!

That same blog article goes to say “Tigernuts are also high in natural sugars, healthy fats, and resistant starch which reaches the colon intact. Resistant starch promotes prebiotic growth and supports a healthy immune and digestive track. It can also lower blood glucose levels and improves insulin sensitivity.”

Tigernut flour tastes slightly sweet and nutty—although I think the term “nutty” can be interpreted in many ways. Suffice to say, tigernut flour is pleasant-tasting and won’t dominate flavor-wise. However, it is a light beige in color and so it may slightly “color” your baked goods. You can find it in natural food stores or order online.

How Do I Use Tigernut Flour?

Knowing that this flour is high in fiber and sugar gives us some hints about how to use it. Its high fiber content means it’s slightly grainy so I would use it in foods where you want “crunch” such as cookies,  bars, pancakes, and so on.  It’s high in sugar, so you might be able to reduce the sugar in your recipe. And, its resistant starch is a good thing but avoid using too much in case it upsets your digestive tract.

Like all gluten-free flours, tigernut flour needs to be used in combination with other flours. Some Paleo bakers combine it with tapioca flour or coconut or almond flours.  I’m fond of my own grain-based flour blend (sorghum or brown rice flour blended with potato starch and tapioca starch), so my approach is to replace some of my flour blend with tigernut flour in a recipe that I’m already familiar with rather than starting from scratch with a brand-new recipe.

If you are Paleo, you should rely on a Paleo-based recipe and then modify it to include tigernut flour.

Given all of these traits of tigernut flour, I am more likely to use it in sweet items, rather than savory, because of its natural sweetness.  So, I would use it in cookies (maybe biscotti?), bars, a cookie-crumb (or graham cracker) pie crust), or even breakfast pancakes and smoothies. 

For savory dishes, I might add some to burgers (either meat or veggie), or a no-bake pie crust made from savory crackers and tigernut flour (perhaps as a crust for quiche), or even cornbread (see below) or other quick breads. This doesn’t mean it won’t work in other savory dishes, but my experiments were confined to sweeter dishes.

CORNBREAD (WITH TIGERNUT FLOUR)

Adapted from Gluten-Free 101 by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013)

Cornbread is a staple at our house. It bakes quickly, allowing us to have fresh bread with our meals more often. I especially like it with soups or stews, but it also nicely rounds out a light salad. I use ¼ cup of tigernut flour in this recipe, but you could increase it to ½ cup if you like.

1 ¼ cups cornmeal

¾ cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below)

¼ cup tigernut flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup water, at room temperature

1/3 cup canola oil

[1] Place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Generously grease a 4×8-inch or 8-inch round or square nonstick (gray, not black) baking pan.

[2] In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour blend, tigernut flour, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda until well blended. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat in the eggs, water, and oil until just blended. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat until the batter is slightly thickened, about 30 seconds. The batter will be the consistency of thick cake batter. Spread the batter evenly in the pan.

[3] Bake until the top is firm and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the corn bread in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 12 servings (1 slice each)

Per serving:  180 calories; 3g protein;  8g total fat; 2g fiber; 26g carbohydrates; 31mg cholesterol; 290 mg sodium            

Gluten-Free Flour Blend

1 ½ cups sorghum flour or brown rice flour (color of cornbread will be lighter with brown rice flour)

1 ½ cups potato starch

1 cup tapioca flour

Whisk together until thoroughly blended. Store, tightly closed, in a dark, dry place.

 

 

 

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