Teff: An Awesome Gluten-Free Whole Grain to Try

If you’ve never heard of teff, well don’t feel bad, it’s not that well known – yet. But teff is a pretty cool whole grain that can be used in cooking and baking. It offers a ton of nutrients and is gluten free, so you may want to find out more and keep an eye out for it the next time you are browsing the grain aisle at your supermarket or natural foods store. Here’s why:

Tiny but Powerful

This Ethiopian-based grain is the size of a poppy seed and comes in a variety of colors. Renowned for its hardiness and drought-resistance, it also offers a lot of nutritional value for just a handful of the grain. High in calcium, fiber, and protein, teff is an excellent substitute for meat and dairy products for plant-based diets.

Good for Bones

One cup of cooked teff contains 123mg of calcium, about the same as a half-cup of cooked spinach. By combining those two foods you can double up your calcium content and achieve about 20% of your daily value.

High in Fiber

As a whole grain, teff is high in dietary fiber, which is good news for anyone managing their weight or blood sugar. By slowing down digestion, the high fiber content in teff helps you to feel full longer, levels your energy, and helps to manage blood sugar levels.

Get your Protein

Remember all the calcium in one cooked cup of teff? Add to that the 10g of protein it also contains and you have one powerful side dish or base for baking. Note that although it is not a complete protein, teff is pretty close and by adding other foods high in the amino acid lysine (such as dill weed or apricots) you can easily create a whole-protein, plant-based meal.

Buying, Cooking, and Eating

Teff doesn’t yet have the status of quinoa or other ancient grains, so you may have to check out natural food stores to find it or order online. Lighter colors of teff offer lighter flavors, so you may want to start with white or ivory teff to get accustomed to its nutty flavor. You can cook teff much like quinoa for 15-20 minutes, then let stand for 5 minutes, then add the grain to soups or salads. For breakfast porridge, try this recipe from The Kitchn. Many companies also offer teff in flour form, as its gluten-free properties make it a great alternative to standard flours. Teff flour can be used in many kinds of baking, but may take some experimenting as the lack of gluten makes for a different texture. However, once you have teff in hand you’ll be eager to try it out in a variety of recipes – from pie crusts to scones to peanut butter cookies! Check out The Teff Company for some teff recipes to try. Photo: The Kitchn