Teff is an ancient grain, small in size and packed with nutrition. Because the grains of teff are so small, the bulk of the grain consists of the bran and germ. This makes teff nutrient dense as the bran and germ are the most nutritious parts of any grain. This grain has a very high calcium content, and contains high levels of phosphorous, iron, copper, aluminum, barium, and thiamin. It is considered to have an excellent amino acid composition, with lysine levels higher than wheat or barley. Teff is very high in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. It contains no gluten so it is appropriate for those with gluten intolerance.
The grain has been widely cultivated and used in the countries of Ethiopia, India and it’s colonies, and Australia. Teff is grown primarily as a cereal crop in Ethiopia where it is ground into flour, and used for baking purposes. It is also eaten as porridge. At this time it is not widely known or used in the U.S., though it is cultivated in South Dakota and Idaho and is available in many health food stores.
The common English names for teff are teff, lovegrass, and annual bunch grass. The color of the Teff grains can be ivory, light tan to deep brown or dark reddish brown purple, depending on the variety. Teff has a mild, nutty, and a slight molasses like sweetness. The white teff has a chestnut-like flavor and the darker varieties are earthier and taste more like hazelnuts.
Teff is a very versatile grain. Teff flour can be used as a substitute for part of the flour in baked goods, or the grains added uncooked or substituted for part of the seeds, nuts, or other small grains. It is a good thickener for soups, stews, gravies, and puddings and can also be used in stir-fry dishes, and casseroles.
Teff may be added to soups or stews in either of two ways:
1) Add them, uncooked to the pot a half-hour before serving time.
2) Add them cooked to the pot 10 minutes before serving.
Cooked teff can be mixed with herbs, seeds, beans or tofu, garlic, and onions to make grain burgers. The seeds can also be sprouted and the sprouts used in salads and on sandwiches.
To cook Teff :
- place 2 cups purified water, 1/2 cup teff, and 1/4 tsp. sea salt (optional) in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 to 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
- Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes.
Teff should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place in tightly covered containers such as glass jars. Cooked Teff can be kept in the refrigerator, but should be used within a few days.
This grain would be a worthy and healthful addition to your diet. Be creative, use your imagination, and enjoy this wonderful nutritious grain.
Spelt is similar to wheat in appearance, but it has a tougher husk than wheat that may help protect the nutrients inside the grain; in fact spelt is an ancestor of modern wheat. A wonderfully nutritious and ancient grain, spelt is an excellent source of protein, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and fiber. It has vitamin E and B-complex vitamins too (selenium, zinc, iron, and manganese especially niacin). The fiber in spelt can also help to reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels.
Avoid whole wheat, white flour, whole purpose flour, cake flour, wheat crackers, store bought cookies, most breakfast cereals, thickeners and many snack foods made from wheat.