Happy last day of winter, everyone! I think we are all (more than) ready for a spectacular spring.
But first, a glorious bowl of porridge. (Yes, I used glorious and porridge in the same sentence.) And some persuasion.
It was only a short while ago that quinoa was a mystery to most of us (keen-WHAT? Kwin-noah?) Now it is a ubiquitous feature in supermarkets, magazines, blogs, TV shows and fitness journals, as well as a featured ingredient in everything from crackers to breads to cereals. It is even the subject of several single subject books (For example, umm, this one: 500 Best Quinoa Recipes). It’s undeniably versatile, as well as delicious, naturally gluten-free, and high in protein.
But now it’s time to make room for another supergrain: Teff.
It may be new to most of us, but it’s been harvested for thousands of years in Ethiopia. An estimated 6.3 million farmers grow teff in Ethiopia, where fields of the crop cover more than 20% of all land under cultivation. It’s not surprising when you consider that 1 pound of teff can produce up to 1 ton of grain in as little as 12 weeks.
Here’s why I am making teff a regular part of my diet, and why I think you should do the same:
(1) It is high in calcium and other minerals. Teff has more calcium than any other grain (it rivals spinach in calcium availibility), and is also high in manganese, phosphorous, iron, copper, aluminum, barium, and thiamin. Additionally, the iron found in teff is easily absorbed (a great benefit if you do not consume much or any red meat, or for anyone with low iron levels).
(2) It is naturally gluten-free. No spooky ingredients or special treating needed. Whether you must follow a gluten-free diet, or are simply looking to cut back on the gluten in your diet, teff is a fantastic option.
(3) It is a good source of Vitamin C. Most grains have little or no Vitamin C. Take that, orange juice!
(4) It is high in protein. 1/4 cup of dry grains has a whopping 6 grams of protein. It is not a complete protein, but almost: it boasts eight of the essential amino acids needed for the body’s growth and repair.
(5) It is an excellent source of resistant starch. Approximately 30 to 40% of teff’s fiber is resistant starch, a dietary fiber that helps balance and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Resistant starch also benefits colon health, weight management, and digestion in general.
(6) It is low in calories. Because it is so low in sugar and high in fiber, teff has fewer calories than other grains. 1/4 cup of the uncooked tiny grains has 161 calories. When it is cooked into porridge using my method above, it yields about just over 1 cup of (very filling) porridge. Similarly, the same 1/4 cup of grains yields a scant cup of fluffy grains when cooked using my basic rice-style method.
(7) It is less expensive than quinoa. In general, it costs several dollars less per pound than quinoa.
(8) It is versatile. Make it into porridge (below), or cook it using my light and fluffy method to use in salads or as a replacement for nuts and seeds in recipes (it has a delicate crunch akin to poppy seeds). It is also a terrific multi-purpose thickener for soups and stews (simply stir in a few tablespoons during the last 20 minutes of cooking).
(9) It is naturally low in fat. Teff has a mere 0.6 g of fat per 1/4 cup of uncooked grains.
(10) It is scrumptious! Hmm, I really should have put this under number one! Teff has a mild, nutty flavor that is free from any bitterness. It goes with just about everything. Really. Sunny flavors, earthy flavors, chocolate, spices, fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables, you name it.
Where to Begin?
A great way to start with teff is to let it start your day. It makes a fast, filling creamy porridge that can be topped in myriad ways (may I recommend goji berries +pepitas + a splash of coconut milk + a sprinkle of coconut sugar that I made this morning? Heavenly!)
Here’s to Teff!