Many people have never heard of teff, but this unique gluten-free grain dates back to the age of the pyramids. Most often ground into flour to make injera, a fermented flat bread, teff has served as a primary food source in Ethiopia and Eritrea since approximately 3000 B.C. Despite its enduring history as an African staple, teff’s presence in America is less than forty years old. In the 1970s, an entrepreneurial farmer observed a parallel between the weather of Idaho’s Snake Valley and Africa’s Great Rift Valley, and began successfully cultivating teff in the United States.
Individual grains of teff are extremely small, just 1/150th of the size of a kernel of wheat. When cooked as a hot cereal, the tiny grains — comparable to the size of a poppy seed — create a deliciously smooth texture. In fact, the taste and consistency of teff porridge is more like cream of wheat than any other gluten-free whole grain I’ve prepared.
When you see teff’s impressive nutritional profile, you’ll see why it provides a compelling case for adding this gluten-free grain to your diet.
Just one serving of teff delivers —
- 20% of the total RDA for iron
- 10% of the total RDA for thiamin (B1)
- more bran and germ than any other grain
- 8 essential amino acids
- 17 times the calcium of wheat or barley
- higher lysine content than wheat or barley
- excellent source of boron, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc
To make a basic teff porridge, stir 1/2 cup of whole grain teff into 2 cups of salted boiling water. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with honey and fruit for a delicious vegan breakfast.
Image via Bulgew1 on Flickr under a Creative Commons License