Ani de la Prida is co-founder of The Tiger Nut Company alongside her husband Chris. If you haven’t heard of tiger nuts before, Ani is on a mission to share with you all the benefits of this tiny tuber. The couple’s love of tiger nuts has even led to the creation of the first unsweetened tiger nut milk in the world.
Ani and Chris’ story began six years back, on a holiday to Ibiza with their son. Having family in Barcelona, Ani had drunk Spanish horchata de chufa or sweetened tiger nut milk as a child, and it was a drink she wanted to share with Chris on that visit to Ibiza. Ani remembers, ‘It was quite hard to find. We found a very processed horchata in the end and sat with it on the beach. It was delicious – it was so lovely. We brought lots of bottles back home with us.’
Back in the UK, Ani and Chris looked for tiger nut milk, but none was available. This pushed them to consider importing the milk – just to drink. Shipping the packaged milk proved difficult, until a friend suggested that they just import the nuts. ‘We bought in some tiger nuts and made milk from them in our kitchen,’ says Ani. ‘The milk was wonderful. Around this time I researched tiger nuts and found they had been used as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and even bowel cancer. The tiger nuts themselves are delicious, really versatile and can be used as gluten-free ingredients for baking. We couldn’t believe that no one knew about this important food, and decided there and then that we just had to tell everyone’.
With a background as an ats counsellor and psychotherapist, Ani began to research – ‘I’m interested in food and how it affects psychological health. People don’t always know how to nourish themselves.’ For Ani, a healthier diet can be part of the healing process for her clients. ‘Sometimes I ask people to make a smoothie bowl and to make it beautiful and eat it mindfully. It can be nourishing at a physical, emotional and spiritual level,’ she says. ‘If someone is depressed, I ask what their diet is and often I can spot the things that are contributing to their low mood. One client had ME, a condition that left her with low energy. It turned out she didn’t eat any fresh food ever – she was living on a diet of frozen ready meals, fizzy drink and coffee. I got her making vegetable smoothies, smoothie bowls and salads. Within three weeks her energy improved drastically. Her skin changed.’ These experiences have led Ani to firmly believe that ‘the two things – food and our energy – are connected.’
As Ani learnt more about tiger nuts, her desire to spread awareness about this lesser known tuber took hold. She and Chris still wanted to import tiger nut milk, but the only horchata de chufa milks available were far too sweet – ‘The unsweetened milk we wanted just wasn’t available in Spain. We went to manufacturers and tried every single brand. In order for horchata to be called horchata, it needs to have sugar in it at a particular ratio. That’s taken seriously in Spain, so companies wouldn’t make tiger nut milk for me without sugar – they said it was for preservation, for taste…’ Finally, the couple struck lucky as two tiger nut producers split off to help them make the first tiger nut milk in the world. ‘It was delicious and creamy,’ says Ani and, most importantly, it wasn’t full of sugar.
As Ani learnt more about tiger nuts, her desire to spread awareness about this lesser known tuber took hold. She and Chris still wanted to import tiger nut milk, but the only horchata de chufa milks available were far too sweet – ‘The unsweetened milk we wanted just wasn’t available in Spain. We went to manufacturers and tried every single brand. In order for horchata to be called horchata, it needs to have sugar in it at a particular ratio. That’s taken seriously in Spain, so companies wouldn’t make tiger nut milk for me without sugar – they said it was for preservation, for taste…’ Finally, the couple struck lucky as two tiger nut producers were encouraged to split off and produce the first tiger nut milk in the world. ‘It is delicious and creamy,’ says Ani and, most importantly, it isn’t full of sugar. Ani believes that fresh is best but says that this pure ready-made tiger nut milk is the closet to home made that you can get.
As well as selling a product that is good for the body, Ani wanted it to be good for the environment too. Even though packing tiger nuts in paper bags reduces their shelf life, Chris and Ani are now switching to eco-friendly options - ‘Our new packaging is recyclable and made from recycled paper. We are developing our packaging and now say on it – ‘Real food that tastes good and does you good.’ which describes all of our products; raw, natural, unprocessed with no added sugar and with lots of health benefits.
Whilst their company started out with tiger nut milk as its staple product, it has quickly expanded. Ani’s philosophy, that food and well-being are interconnected, has inspired her to create new recipes and to reach out to manufacturers so more people can enjoy tiger nuts in other ways. ‘Most of the recipes we create are good for everyone – vegan, paleo, gluten intolerant or with a nut allergy’ Ani adds. ‘There are a lot of different eating needs and I hate leaving people feeling left out. I hope people feel we care, because we do. ’
Here are a couple of Ani’s recipes:
Tiger nut milk
Simply soak the tiger nuts for 24 hours in water in the fridge. Then drain, and pop into a blender with 400mls of water, blend until thick and creamy – then strain. It tastes delicious and creamy just as it is – but if you want a more authentic horchata taste just add half a date and a pinch of cinnamon and blend with the milk.
Don’t throw the pulp! It is pure and delicious fibre and zero waste - which you can add to porridge, or yogurt or bake into biscuits. You can also use it to make…
Chocolate and orange protein balls
Process the leftover pulp with;
½ orange – skin included
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon chai seeds
A few cashew nuts
1 teaspoon linseeds (optional)
Shape into balls and chill in the fridge.
Ani also recommends her beetroot, walnut and tiger nut bread - here's the recipe.
A whole kit to get you making tiger nut milk is included in our box this April. We hope Ani’s story has inspired you to try out your kit and enjoy an alternative milk that has a unique story behind it. If you haven't reserved yours yet, you can subscribe here or give a box as a gift.
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