Healthy snacking. An oxymoron perhaps?
When I decided to watch what went in my mouth, I found that one of the most challenging things was finding a healthy snack. Thrown in was the fact that I was advised to get a lot of fibre into my diet. So began my search for a healthy snack which could meet my dietary fiber needs. I also wanted something I could buy locally (yes, buying things that are Nigerian grown is very important to me). And lastly, it had to be cheap if it was something so that I could afford to eat it everyday if I wished.
I didn’t need to look far as I realized that Tiger nuts would do the trick. In case you are not familiar with that name, in Nigeria the Hausas call it “Aya”, Yorubas call it “imumu”, the igbos “ofio” or “aki Hausa”. The Spanish call it Chufa and make a drink called Horchata de Chufa from it. The Hausas make a drink called Kuunu Aya from it as well.
I have always liked Tiger nuts but had a problem with the way it was sold by our local vendors – carried around in a wheel barrow, open to the elements and rehydrated with water from an unknown source. In the past, I had bought a lot of Tiger nuts which looked like they had been eaten into by rodents.
Luckily for me, I found these ones which are hygienically packed and very importantly, have no bite marks on them. Don’t bother calling the phone numbers on this pack – I did some digging and found that it doesn’t work. Luckily, I was able to get this number for the vendor: 0805-155-5959. They are no longer at that address either.
So what is so great about Tiger nuts? A lot. Apart from the fact that they are really cheap (A small pack costs me just N50 ~ approx $0.30) they have are used for medicinal purposes, in cooking, baking, as an aphrodisiac, they are anti-oxidants…..the list goes on and on.
I will reference a very educative journal article and will just highlight the points here:
A rich source of nutrients such as vitamins C and E, minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, and also carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, proteins and some enzymes which help in digestion
Drinks made from Tiger nuts contains more iron, magnesium and carbohydrates than cow’s milk and has the added advantage of not containing any lactose, casein, sugar or proteins of the milk, or cholesterol and is therefore an ideal drink for people who do not tolerate gluten or cow’s milk.
Tiger nuts can be used as part of a weight loss program (bet that has gotten your attention).
- Tiger nuts are actually little tubers, not nuts
- They taste like coconuts.
- Tiger nut oil, milk and flour can be made from these nuts.
- Tiger nut oil compares favorably with olive oil.
- Tiger nuts can be quite hard to bite into. If you do not want to exercise your jaws, you can soak them in water for a few hours or overnight and they will be just a wee bit softer. Not soft. Just softer. It also rids the tuber of anti-nutrients (read the article referenced below). A dried tuber nut can absorb up to three times its own weight.
- You can make and flavor your own drink of tiger nuts. It can be flavored with Cinnamon, lemon and further sweetened with honey.
According to the Regulating Council of Denomination of Origin “Chufa de Valencia”, they are high in unsaturated fatty acids and are good for skin and hair.
I decided one day to make my own drink.
The next step if you want some milk is to strain this mixture using a cheesecloth. The resulting milk can be served plain or flavoured with vanilla or a pinch of cinnamon. It can also be served cold – a good thirst quencher for our weather.
I wanted my fiber intact so I drank it this way. A smooth drink it was not but it was really good.