Weekly Ways to Replenish Yourself
The kitchen is my meditation room. There I make the food that will allow me to thrive, nourish my family's health, delight friends, and hopefully inspire you to try the same. The Archives section of Replenish PDX houses the newsletters where I write about recipes, nutrition information and the wellspring of reflections that come from those kitchen meditations. With these words, my hope is to bring you deeper into the connection with food your body and your understanding of how you feel and function. This is where you get to take it all home.
take this tiger by the tail
Posted on: July 3rd 2015
I’ve got a question for you today:
If, as you likely know by now, you are 90% bacteria and 10% 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? 90% bacteria and 10% human), I believe you know the answer.
Yet bacteria aren’t just good or bad. As Michael Pollan stated in a 2013 NY Times Magazine article called ‘Some of My Best Friends are Germs':
These bacteria, which number around 100 trillion, are living (and dying) right now on the surface of my skin, on my tongue and deep in the coils of my intestines, where the largest contingent of them will be found, a pound or two of microbes together forming a vast, largely uncharted interior wilderness that scientists are just beginning to map.
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 is time for each one of us to take this tiger by the tail.
Today’s summer lovin’ ingredient is a bit nutty:
it may be new to you!
Two weeks ago, I introduced the summer SI (small intestine) challenge and we’ve got some great dog days of summer ahead of us to sink into this initiative.
Don’t sweat. This is a fun challenge. It merely involves trying out some surprising culinary ingredients that help your gut do it’s job a bit better.
Food is medicine after all.
And, ‘taking a tiger by the tail’ means to become associated with something powerful and potentially dangerous; to have a very difficult problem to solve. This is nothing short of the truth when we think about the role of our microbiome in our health.
- the bacteria in your gut are powerful and maintain tremendous influence over how you feel
- when out of balance, bacteria can wreak havoc and become dangerous to their host (that’s you)
- and we do have a difficult problem to solve, as a culture that accommodates a decreased diversity in our guts due to our environment, lifestyle, and, yes, diet
With that bug in your ear, it’s time to get nutty!
First, let’s me 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 African and the Mediterranean. Are you curious, yet?
Tigernuts are new on the scene in the States but don’t be fooled, these nuts aren’t new to the GI tract. Our primal ancestors were likely eating them over 2 million years ago.
But why are tigernuts suddenly making such a splash?
(hint: tigernuts love your gut or, more precisely, the critters in your gut I’ve been speaking of; tigernuts are food as medicine)
Tigernuts are a rich source of resistant starch and that makes them one of my favorite gut-lovin’ 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 starch reaches the colon it is ready to do it’s job.
In the colon or large intestine, much resistant starch is converted to shortchain
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.
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.
4) Use cold-pressed tigernut oil for roasting and sautéing. It’s high content of oleic acid means it can take higher heat without chemical decomposition (ie. oxidation). It’s rich, nutty taste is especially delicious with roasted vegetables.
I confess, I love granola. But being sugar and grain-fee, as I tend to be, most granola recipes don’t love me. (Sound familiar?) When one of my FBS students recently gifted me a bag of tigernuts, I was inspired to get my granola on ~ tigernut style!
The tigernuts are tough little nuts so be sure to run the food processor long enough to grind them into very small pieces, it may take a full minute or two, but it’s worth the wait.
Note: This recipe is super flexible. Use it as a guide. Get creative with your favorite nuts, seeds, dried fruit and spices. Give it a whirl. Let me know on the Replenish Facebook page about your winning combos.
1 cup whole tiger nuts (soaked overnight and drained)
1 cup of your favorite nuts or seeds (sub banana chips or other dried fruit if nut-free is needed)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (or more nuts/seeds)
1 tspn cinnamon
1/4 tspn ground cardamom or ground ginger, or both (optional)
1/2 tspn sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 Tbspn coconut nectar or yacon syrup
2 Tbspn pureed pumpkin or applesauce (or use more coconut nectar or yacon)
6-10 drops liquid stevia
1 tspn vanilla extract
Place tigernuts in a bowl, cover with water, and allow to soak for 6 – 12 hours.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Once soaked, drain the tigernuts and place them in a food processor. Give it a whirl until they are broken up into very small pieces (this might take a few minutes, keep whirling!).
Add the 1 cup of nuts/seeds to the food processor and pulse until the nuts are also in small pieces.
Add the shredded coconut, coconut flakes, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt to the food processor and pulse a few more times to combine. Pour the mixture into a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix the melted coconut oil, vanilla, pumpkin puree or applesauce and sweetener until well combined.
Stir the coconut oil mixture into the tigernut mixture and incorporate wet and dry ingredients well.
Scoop the tigernut granola mixture onto the lined baking sheet, spread it evenly on your tray. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until just beginning to brown around the edges.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the granola to cool completely. Store it in a glass container or jar in the fridge or pantry.
I’ve been enjoying my granola with nut milk and fresh summer berries. A sweet start to my morning. My tastebuds and my gut bacteria are grateful and I know I’ve taken this tiger by the tail.
Here’s to summer lovin’ and granola that packs a gut loving tiger growl!
Your homework? Give tigernuts a try and focus on feeding you and your microbiome. And keep your eye on the tiger!
The doors to the Digestive Intensive Jumpstart are open.
Summer school is in session and starts next week. Join me and this community of hundreds of practitioners changing the way we do healthcare and harnessing the real meaning of food as medicine!
Beyond the Gut: Other Nutty Health Benefits You Don’t Want to Miss!
> high in magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and potassium plus vitamin E and vitamin C
> tigernuts have the macronutrient ratio almost identical to that of human breast milk (crazy, huh!?) and may help increase the production of breast milk for lactating mamas
Boost your Blood
> these little tubers are a good source of iron (as much as red meat)
> tigernut oil is nourishing for your skin (inside and out) and it’s turning up more and more in skincare products
Reminder: As with all gut food, start low and go slow.
We’re each unique and we all respond differently to new ingredients. While introducing tigernuts to your diet, start low and go slow to be sure your microbiome is game to grow!
If you have a delicate GI and have any concerns, please consult your dedicated healthcare provider.