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Teff the Grain of the Week

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I never heard of this grain till I just watched a taped show of Dr. Oz. It was one of the foods he recommended for longevity. I just had to research it as I always love to learn new things to help me on my journey to a new me.

Teff is an ancient grain, minute in size, and packed with nutrition. Teff is believed to have originated in Ethiopia between 4000 and 1000 BC. Teff seeds were discovered in a pyramid thought to date back to 3359 BC.

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, fermented for three days then made into enjera, a sourdough type flat bread. It is also eaten as porridge and used as an ingredient of home-brewed alcoholic drinks. The grass is grown as forage for cattle and is also used as a component in adobe construction in Ethiopia. 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.

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 high in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. It contains no gluten so it is appropriate for those with gluten intolerance.

Teff grain is tiny when compared to wheat; it takes 150 grains of teff to equal one kernel of wheat. Teff is an excellent source of protein, amino acids and fiber. For instance, a 2-ounce serving of teff has 7 grams of protein, equal to an extra large egg. Teff is higher in calcium and iron content than wheat, rice, oats or millet.

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. The grain is somewhat mucilaginous. It is interesting that documents dated in the late 1800's indicate the upper class consumed the lighter grains, the dark grain was the food of soldiers and servants, and cattle consumed hay made from teff.

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. Due to it's small size, only 1/2 Cup of teff is needed to replace 1 cup of sesame seeds. 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.


The folowing two recipes adapted from packages of Arrowhead Teff.

Teff Pancakes

1 cup cooked Teff
1/4 tsp. Sea salt
1 cup multigrain pancake mix or whole grain flour
1 cup water or enough to make pancake batter
1 tbsp. Oil (optional)

Mix all ingredients; cook on a hot oiled griddle.

For variations try adding nuts, berries, or apples to the batter.

Teff Carob Cookies

3/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup barley flour
1-1/2 tbsp. Carob powder
1/4 cup uncooked teff
1/4 cup molasses or maple syrup (or try brown rice syrup or agave syrup)
1/2 cup water or organic milk
1/4 tsp. Almond extract

Mix dry ingredients. Mix liquids. Combine mixtures. Drop small spoonfuls onto oiled baking sheet. Bake at 350ยบ for 8-10 minutes.

For variations try adding nuts, seeds, and / or raisins to the dough.

Peanut Butter Cookies
Ingredients (Makes 24 Teff Cookies)

1 1/2 cups teff flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup crunchy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugars. Mix thoroughly.

In a food processor or using an electric mixer set on medium speed, mix the oil vanilla, and peanut butter.

Add flour mixture a 1/2 cup at a time to the peanut butter mixture. Blend well after each addition.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool 2 - 3 minutes before removing and placing them on wire racks to cool completely.

Teff Pancakes

1 cup Teff grain, cooked
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup multigrain pancake mix
1 cup water (adjust for desired consistency)
1 tablespoon butter (for griddle)

In a medium bowl add cooked teff, salt, multigrain pancake mix. Mix thoroughly. Stir in water and blend well.

Add butter to griddle and warm over medium-hot heat. Form 4 inch pancakes out of the batter. Once bubbles form on the top of the pancakes, flip them over, and cook them on the other side for about 3 minutes. Continue until all the batter has been made into pancakes.

Substitutions and Additions

For more flavor consider adding berries, nuts, or apples to the batter.

Teff Polenta
(Serves 4 -6)

1 3/4 cups water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
7 cloves garlic, sliced thick
1 cup onions, coarsely chopped
1 cup green peppers, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup teff grain, uncooked
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
grated parmesan (garnishment)

In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil.

In a 10-inch frying pan add the oil and warm over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add peppers, and saute for 3 minutes or until peppers are bright green. Stir in the teff grain. Turn off the heat.

Add the boiling water and salt to the frying heat. Set heat to medium and simmer for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and basil.

Cover and continue simmering for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the water is absorbed. The polenta is done when the teff is no longer crunchy.

Place polenta on a 9 inch pie plate. Garnish with grated parmesan. Allow to cool at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I forgot to read this when you posted it darn I just got back from Whole Foods. Would have loved to pick some up to try it out.

    the high in protein and Calcium is a plus plus.. Maybe next time. emoticon

    Thanks for posting this this is great news.

    Don't know if you did a post for Amaranth don't think so you should post something on that. lol Just helping you get some ideas for next post. emoticon

    Gardein (Vegan Meat products) uses Amaranth and it's super high in protein. 1 serving of the vegan meat gives you about 18g of protein the BBQ and Tri-Tip type meals are my favorite and delicious you can't tell the difference.


    Thanks for posting.


    Oh checked the internet and very similar to Amaranth

    Amaranth is a very ancient grain used by the Aztecs and Incas. Grinding it makes a light and tasty flour. Rich in lysine, its protein content is high quality. There are 60 mg of calcium per 1/2 cup, and amaranth is gluten free. Amaranth has a nutty, slightly spicy flavor, and a sticky gelatinous texture. It makes a highly nutritious hot cereal and can be cooked like any other grain, but becomes sticky when cooked. Can be mixed with corn, onions, and pinto beans.

    Nutrition Facts

    Serving Size: 1/2 cup cooked

    Nutrient Amount

    Calories 129 Fat 1.5 g Carbohydrate 22 g Dietary Fiber 2 g Sodium 14 mg

    Protein 5 g Calcium 60 mg
    2916 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/28/2010 7:57:50 PM
  • DS9KIE
    great blog
    2917 days ago
    This was a very interesting little grain that you taught us about. I haven't heard of it either, but will certainly start looking for it. Thank you for all the great info!!!
    2917 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    I just heard about Teff yesterday on the Dr. Oz Show Fans SP team. And today you ride the crest of the wave with info and recipes etc. You are the emoticon
    2917 days ago
    This sounds yummy!

    You're definitely introducing me to foods I'd never heard of before!
    2918 days ago
    My friend Jennifer makes the most wonderful gluten free stuff out of teff. Her chocolate chip cupcakes are to die for!
    2918 days ago
    This was very interesting, I hadn't heard of teff before. I may have eaten some in the past, I love enjera at Ethiopian restaurants. Thanks for the knowledge!
    2918 days ago
    Teff? Teff? Oh Yvonne, are you sure you're not a private investigator in real life? You are always uncovering the mysteries of life, in this case the mysteries of grain. Thank you once again for teaching me something new!
    2918 days ago
  • NWFL59
    Thanks for introducing yet again something new to me and some recipes utilizing teff. I'll have to look for it and give it a try.
    2918 days ago
  • L*I*T*A*
    new to me........shall search them out .......
    thanks for the great recipes too...
    blessings and hugs...........lita
    2918 days ago
    Neer heard of Teff... Has a catchy name though, like Soylent Green.
    2918 days ago
    I have never heard of this, so thanks for the great info
    2918 days ago
    I have not heard of this tiny powerhouse grain! If anyone trys it please report back on it. I will look around here and see if I can find any.
    2918 days ago
  • MTNHIKER1971
    Teff sounds pretty tough! Thank you for posting this, and the delish recipes for the bonus!
    2918 days ago
  • GLORYB83
    This is really new to me, thanks for the info Yvonne! I need to make it a point to be in front of my TV when Dr Oz comes on, lol.
    He's awesome, isn't he?

    2918 days ago
    I've never heard of teff. Thanks for the detailed info & recipes! I have friend who's trying to go gluten free and she's looking for all the gluten-free grains she can find. If you try it, let us know how it works out.
    2918 days ago
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