Updated: Feb 10
What is packed with protein, cooks up like a whole grain, yet actually a grass seed, and is the oldest domesticated plant in the world? Give up? The answer has been around since 4000 BC, Teff. This tiny grass seed super food has more protein than quinoa. You may have to look around to find it and not just because it's so tiny, but also because you might not see it at your local grocery store just yet. But that is changing, because teff is an incredibly nutritious staple which has sustained populations since the dawn of time. Although you might have to look in a local health food store or online to find it , you may have already eaten teff without being aware of it. It's used in meal replacement shakes for its protein, its added to whole grain breads for the same reason, its also added to many gluten free foods because its naturally gluten free.
Whole teff grains are smaller than the head of a pin. This fact must be why the Amhaic name teff means, "lost". These tiny grains are usually ground into a flour and made into all kinds of delicious foods. Raw teff has a slightly sweet nutty flavor. The tiny grains are covered in natural yeast. Teff is often fermented by adding only water and allowing it to sit for days at room temperature. A popular Ethiopian food called Injera is a thin griddled bread which is used as an edible utensil for Ethiopian stews. Teff flour is mixed with water and fermented into a batter which is griddled on a hot stove. Teff also makes a popular home brewed alcoholic beer called Tella.
Teff is tough too. It can grow in almost any climate and is perfectly suited for growing in the deserts of Ethiopia or other extreme conditions. It grows quickly and requires very little water or nourishment to produce large amounts of nutrient rich food. This fact is why scientists are pinning their hopes on teff for stemming the global hunger problem. Teff is the most important crop in Ethiopia. Ethiopians get 66 percent of their daily protein consumption from teff . It is an incredible source of plant based protein which is why you should be eating it.
Whole teff grains may be harder to find than teff flour. Whole teff can be found in health food stores and online. Whole teff grains are excellent cooked into a protein packed porridge or stewed into soup. Teff also finds its way into desserts as a rich pudding. Teff porridge is easy to make by adding two or three times the quantity of water to the amount of teff you have and simmering for about 15 minutes. The grains cook up thick and have a pleasant grain flavor. Teff flour is usually easier to find. Up to half the amount of wheat flour in any recipe can be replaced with teff flour. Teff has no gluten in it so it will not hold things together the way wheat flour does. Teff is an excellent way to make gluten free foods have a nutty whole grain flavor. Teff is very affordable too. Prices ranging from $3.00 to $5.00 per pound.
Teff is notably high in protein but is also nutrient packed. Despite its miniscule size teff is loaded with calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and B vitamins. These minerals are harder to get if you're on a gluten free or plant based diet but are abundant in every serving of teff. Teff make fantastic breads, crackers and flatbreads. Teff is an excellent choice when making stuffed vegetables such as stuffed mushrooms or stuffed peppers.
Take a look at my recipe for teff crackers and watch the video below. I will also be using teff in future videos and recipes.
Here is a recipe for a simple teff porridge that could be used for breakfast although if you were in Ethiopia you might be having it for dinner. Get some teff today and you too could be having Teff for dinner as well. Teff Luck! and High Vibes!
1 cup Teff whole grains
3 cups water
dates, raisins or berries
honey or maple syrup
Toast teff over medium heat in a heavy dry sauce pan until it starts to pop.
Add water slowly. Stir and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat . Cover with a lid and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
Serve with your choice of fruit and toppings.