What is Teff? Info and Recipes for this Whole Grain!

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Harvesting teff (Eragrostis tef) in Ethiopia

Harvesting teff in Ethiopia (Photo credit: treesftf)

While giving my "Fighting Cancer With Your Fork" seminars, I highlight the American Institute for Cancer Research's Foods that Fight Cancer list. Included on that list is Whole Grains. During this part of my talk, I encourage participants to branch out and try some new grains. There are so many different kinds that many have never tried! Teff is one of those that most people haven't tried.

I first found Teff while walking the aisles of our local grocery store. I was looking for Quinoa and noticed the dark brown grain. I wondered what is was, so I bought it to take home. It cooked like oatmeal, but was really small, like cream of wheat. Tasty! And a great alternative to cream of wheat or grits, which are typically not whole grains.

Why Bother? Nutrition Benefits of Teff

You might wonder what the nutrition benefits of Teff are. Since Teff's bran and germ make up a large percentage of the tiny grain, and it's too small to process,Teff is always eaten in its whole form. It's never refined!

Other than being a whole grain, which is known to be beneficial for heart disease prevention as well as cancer prevention, Teff provides a variety of beneficial nutrients including (per 1/2 cup cooked Teff):

  • Calories: ​130 kcal
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrate: 30 g
  • Fiber: 4 g. Interestingly, Teff is high in resistant starch, a type of dietary fiber that can benefit blood-sugar management, weight control, and colon health. It's estimated that 20-40% of the carbohydrates in Teff are resistant starches.
  • Glycemic Index (GI): ​Low   
  • Calcium content: 63mg, (about the same amount of calcium as in a 1/4 cup of cooked spinach)
  • Excellent source of vitamin C (a nutrient not commonly found in grains)
  • Gluten-Free, although cross contamination in processing is possible.

According to the Whole Grain Council, It's been estimated that Ethiopians get about two-thirds of their dietary protein from Teff.  Many of Ethiopia's famed long-distance runners attribute their energy and health to Teff.

You know what that means - someone is going to make a Teff pill and claim it increases energy! I suggest you buy the grain as is and try it! Here are some suggestions on serving it. I just cooked it according to the directions and it was very good. Here's a link for that: You Can Cook: Teff.

Here's a Teff recipe that I think sounds interesting. Try it and let me know what you think
- Julie

Teff Porridge with Dates and Honey
(This recipe was developed especially for Bob's Red Mill by renowned whole grain specialist, Lorna Sass, author of Whole Grains Every Day Every Way).

  • 1 cup Teff Whole Grain
  • 1 T butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup pitted dates (halved crosswise) or date pieces
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3 to 4 T honey
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • Milk or cream for serving (optional)

  1. Set a heavy, 2 qt pan over medium heat. Add the Teff and toast, stirring frequently until the grains emit a mild, toasty aroma and begin to pop (3-6 minutes).
  2. Turn off the heat and stand back to avoid sputtering.
  3. Add 3 cups of boiling water, the butter and cloves. Stir well.
  4. Turn the heat to medium, cover and cook at a gentle boil for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time and mashing any lumps.
  5. Stir in the dates, salt and honey, to taste. Cover and continue cooking until the grains are tender.
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1 Comment

I'm excited to try out some Teff! Thanks Julie! I found another recipe using teff in a dessert:

Mocha Tofu Apricot Teff Pie

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Crust: Cook:
2/3 cup teff grain
1 cup dried apricots or other dried fruits
2 cups of boiling water
pinch of sea salt
Pour and spread cooked teff and apricots evenly into a casserole dish or large pie pan
Blend in a food processor:
1 pound of tofu
1/2-2/3 cups of rice syrup or 1/2 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup tahini
1/3 cup grain coffee (eg. Pero)
1 tsp. vanilla
Pour tofu mocha filling into teff crust.
Bake 10 minutes or until the top is slightly darker brown.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Julie Lanford MPH, RD, CSO, LDN published on January 3, 2013 10:53 AM.

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