Take this tiger by the tail
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
I’ve got a question for you today…
If, as you likely know by now, you are equal parts bacteria and human, just who (or what) are you feeding when you sit down to your morning meal?
Honestly, it’s not a trick question. And if you think about it with that data in mind (shall I say it again? Equal parts bacteria and human), I believe you know the answer.
And while we’re still learning more each day—mapping what’s going on with those microbes and how they influence our states of health and illness, from gut to brain and immunity to pain—it’s time for each one of us to take the tiger by the tail.
A few weeks ago, I introduced the summer SI (small intestine) challenge and we’ve got some great dog days of summer ahead of us to continue to sink into this initiative.
Don’t sweat. This is a fun challenge. It merely involves trying (or re-trying) out some surprising culinary ingredients that help your gut do its job a bit better.
Food is medicine after all.
Today’s summer lovin’ ingredient is a bit nutty it may be new to you! it’s tigernuts
First, to be clear, tigernuts aren’t actually nuts. (Good news for all among us who are allergic or sensitive or intolerant to those edible kernels.) Instead, tigernuts are a small root vegetable tuber that originates from Northern Africa and the Mediterranean.
Are you curious, yet?
Tigernuts are a rich source of resistant starch and that makes them one of my favorite digestive superfoods. Resistant starch is like nutrition for the probiotic (ie. good guy) bacteria in your colon. There are a number of foods that contain resistant starch and even a number of types of resistant starch, but they all have one thing in common: This type of starch resists digestion.
What this means is that it travels through the gastrointestinal tract—from mouth to colon—without breaking down and becoming fuel for the cells throughout your system, like other foods do.
Once resistant starches reach the colon they’re ready to do their job. In the colon or large intestine, much resistant starch is converted to short-chain fatty acids, one of which is called butyrate.
Butyrate not only supports the colon to rebuild, repair and replenish, but it helps to lower cancer risk and increase the population of good colon bacteria that serve to ward off disease. Butyrate is like a superfood for your colon and resistant starch is how you deliver that superfood to your system!
Quick Health Advisory:
If you have gas or bloating, watch how you feel adding these foods that contain resistant starch to your diet. You may have to go slow and build your way up. Your body will adjust over time.
And hey, if you’re new (or not new!) to tigernuts, I’ve got just the recipe for you below. In my house we’ve been enjoying these bars as part of our breakfast or as an afternoon treat. My taste buds and my gut bacteria are grateful and I know I’ve taken this tiger by the tail. Here’s to summer lovin’ and a bar that packs a gut loving tiger growl! Your homework? Give tigernuts a try (in whole or flour form!) and focus on feeding you and your microbiome. And keep your eye on the tiger!
Tigernut Banana Bars
While I adore tigernuts in their whole form , I’m also a fan of a bar that I can enjoy for breakfast or an afternoon snack. Tigernuts in flour form lend a nutty taste to baked goods that will tickle your tastebuds and feed your microbiome! These bars work best with bananas that are “just ripe” (no black spots, please!)
- 2 bananas (not too ripe as it will make your bars too soft)
- 1/2 cup roasted sweet potato (fresh or canned)
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 cup coconut nectar
- 1 TBSP vanilla extract
- 1 cup tigernut flour
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1.5 TBSP cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- Optional: raw pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 350℉ and line an 8×8 glass baking dish with parchment paper or grease it with coconut oil. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the bananas (mashing them as you go), the roasted sweet potato, coconut oil, coconut nectar, and vanilla until well combined. Add the tigernut flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, ginger, sea salt, and baking soda and mix well until combined.
The batter will be thick! Scoop it into the prepared baking dish and spread it out evenly in the dish. Top with pumpkin seeds. Bake for 35 – 45 minutes until a fork inserted comes out clean. (Start checking it at 35 minutes and add 5 more minutes of bake time as needed). Allow the bars to cool before cutting them. Depending on the ripeness of your bananas, the bars may be soft but they’ll firm up after a few hours (and even soft, they’re still delicious!)
4 ways to take the tiger by the tail with Tigernuts!
1) You can eat these nuggets raw right from the bag but be warned, these little nuts can be tough on your teeth. Soaking them overnight softens them up a bit and brings out their naturally sweet and nutty flavor. Soak them for 12-48 hours, drain them and enjoy.
2) Try tigernut flour in baked goods or add it to smoothies. Companies that make the flour claim you can sub it 1:1 for white flour but your recipe will likely take a bit of tweaking. I find the flour has a slightly crunchy texture which might surprise you.
3) Make (or buy) milk or horchata. Just as with “real” nuts, you can make a simple milk using tigernuts. Soak them for 12 – 48 hours, drain them and blend them up in a high speed blender with water to make a creamy and delicious milk (strain as desired). Or pick up a bottle of tigernut horchata.
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