In the heat of summer our thoughts are often wont to turn to ice cream. However, with my new found friend the tiger nut, otherwise known as chufa (pronounced Choo-fah), I’ve discovered a serious contender when making my first batch of ice-cold Tiger Nut Horchata. There can simply be nothing more refreshing, or good for you, than downing a glass of this Spanish-style refreshment on a hot day.
Tiger Nut Horchata a.k.a. tiger nut milk is a delicious creamy, milk-like drink that can be best described as ‘liquid gold’ for the health conscious. Tasting so good and loaded with resistant starch, raw tiger nut milk (and whole organic tiger nuts eaten as a snack) are a veritable powerhouse of nutrients (see my last two blog posts for more information). Suffice to say, tiger nuts are an original Paleo superfood with a ratio of carbohydrates, fats and protein so similar to human breast milk it almost beggars belief. Tiger nuts are, after all, just a brown, wrinkly vegetable tuber!
In spite of its name, tiger nut milk is both nut and dairy free, which is an absolute boon for people who are lactose intolerant or who suffer from a nut allergy. It’s also gluten-free so coeliacs needn’t go without either. You can use Tiger Nut Horchata as a milk replacement in tea, coffee, poured over our Nut & Seed Granola for breakfast, and pretty much for everything that calls for normal milk. Naturally sweet, tiger nut milk is non-allergic, safe for diabetics and, since tiger nuts do not contain inflammatory omega-6 fats, Tiger Nut Horchata makes for a much healthier alternative to dairy milk or other nut milks.
Most recipes I’ve found for Tiger Nut Horchata (Horchata de Chufa) are full of refined sugar (up to 200g of sugar per 250g of tiger nuts) but because tiger nuts are intrinsically sweet-tasting, I think it’s debatable whether tiger nut milk actually needs any added sugar at all. In the end I decided to stay true to Spanish tradition (I confess my tiger nut milk did taste a little ‘thin’ without) but I have so moderated the amount and type of sweetener in my Tiger Nut Horchata, it still faithfully follows Primal and Paleo dietary guidelines. My sweeteners of choice in this unique recipe are small amounts of raw organic honey and liquid stevia, which both make the grade (to see why, please read The Definitive Guide To Sugar on Mark’s Daily Apple). The end result is a slightly thickened, rich, creamy, sweet (but not too sweet), seriously satisfying vegetable milk that’s fit for the gods.
Using heathy sweeteners rather than refined sugar, I can well imagine Tiger Nut Horchata justifiably becoming the world’s next healthy-drink ‘craze’. And, with that thought, I drink to your good health. Salud!
Tiger Nut Horchata (makes 1000ml / 1 litre)
250g organic tiger nuts, covered with cold water by 5cm (2”) and left to soak overnight at room temperature
1000ml (1 litre) fresh, filtered water
40ml raw organic liquid honey (I used mild-tasting Raw Health organic acacia flower honey)
2 drops liquid stevia (*see note below for Vegan Tiger Nut Horchata)
Organic ground cinnamon
Fresh ice cubes
Whole cinnamon stick(s), if liked
Take your Nut Milk Bag and set it over a deep bowl.
Drain the tiger nuts, rinse them well under cold water then drain again and tip into the blender container. Add the filtered water, the honey and 2 drops of liquid stevia, then secure the lid and blend on high speed until completely homogenised and smooth - this will take about 3-4 minutes (depending on your blender). After blending, if the mixture seems a little too hot to handle, allow it to cool down before proceeding to the next step.
Carefully pour the blended tiger nut mixture into the nut milk bag, tighten the tie at the top of the bag to hold everything inside, then using your hands firmly squeeze out all the liquid until you’re left with only dry tiger nut pulp.
Cover the bowl containing the tiger nut milk and cool completely, then transfer to a glass bottle or lidded container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To serve, third-fill a glass with ice (small ice cubes are best), shake or stir your chilled horchata well then pour over the ice and sprinkle a large pinch of organic ground cinnamon on top (**see note below)
For a final flourish, add a whole cinnamon stick to each glass and use as a swizzle stick to distribute the cinnamon flavour throughout your drink.
You’ll need a powerful blender and a strong Nut Milk Bag to ensure this simple Tiger Nut Horchata recipe is a breeze for you to make on a regular basis. You can use 2 or 3 layers of wet cheesecloth or cotton muslin to strain your tiger nut milk through but the Nut Milk Bag sold by Love Tree Products is strong, re-usable and easy to clean. it also produces a silky-smooth milk with no bits in it. I personally wouldn't want the mess, the faff or the unpredictability of making a DIY version!
*To make Tiger Nut Horchata vegan, simply leave out the raw honey and double the drops of liquid stevia (to 4) for the same level of sweetness.
It’s recommended you don’t discard the tiger nut pulp, instead dry it out in an oven and use as a substitute for desiccated coconut. Alternatively, convert into nutritious Tiger Nut Energy Balls
** I actually prefer to put my refrigerated horchata into a blender with half dozen ice cubes and whizz together for about 10 seconds to break up the ice for a super-cold drink that doesn’t smack you around the mouth with ice cubes every time you take a sip (it was Sarah that insisted I put a single ice cube in the glass for the photographs!) You can also put the horchata into the freezer for about an hour to turn it into a ‘slushy’. Which suggests to me that I should be creating a tiger-nut-milk-based recipe for ice cream, sooner rather than later!
To calculate the carbohydrate content of this recipe I’ve referenced whole tiger nuts, not tiger nut milk. Although carb grams per serving looks relatively high, there is a significant amount of tiger nut sediment that’s discarded after squeezing out the milk. Also, some of the carbohydrate content in raw tiger nuts is in the form of a unique fibre known as resistant starch, which cannot be absorbed by the body in the process of digestion. This means it passes through your system without deleterious effects on blood sugar or insulin levels. Similarly, you don’t obtain significant calories from resistant starch either.
However, resistant starch is a highly beneficial pre-biotic that feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut, which in turn provides numerous health benefits that can ultimately assist in weight loss. Your healthy gut flora actually need this ‘food’ to survive and thrive, Thus, Tiger Nut Horchata is recommended for even the most carb sensitive individual. Even if you are trying to lose weight, it’s more important to focus on eating real, nutritious food than to worry unduly about counting grams of carbohydrate or calories. The message is: ditch all grains, legumes, refined sugar and unhealthy processed seed oils and fats, and your carbohydrate and calorie intake will happily take care of itself!
Caution: Tiger nuts and tiger nut flour have very high amounts of resistant starch which, if you’re not used to, can cause discomfort and bloating when eaten in large amounts. It is therefore advised that you slowly introduce resistant starch into your diet (less than a teaspoon per day) and gradually increase your tolerance to your particular comfort level, which will hopefully be about 15-30 grams a day.
Carbohydrate 55g Protein 5g - per 250ml serving of Tiger Nut Horchata (without ice)