Friday, April 22, 2011

Teff - A gluten-free wonder food!


At Mesob, we use teff in making our Ethiopian crepe-like bread, injera.  Teff seed is the world's smallest grain. Each tiny seed is packed with a powerhouse of nutrition. Teff seed is gluten-free and high in protein, minerals, and complex carbohydrates. You can purchase teff online as well as in a growing number of specialty retailers.

The most important cereal in our native Ethiopia, teff grass is a highly nutritious and reliable crop. At 9 to 14 percent protein, it contains all eight essential amino acids. Most of the grain is made up of bran and germ, making it especially high in fiber and a good source of carbohydrates on the low-glycemic index.  This makes teff an excellent choice for regulating blood sugar levels and preventing type II diabetes. Adding teff seeds to your daily diet can act as nutritional insurance.

As a gluten-free wheat substitute, teff seed can be ground into flour or consumed whole, as is.   It has a sweet, nutty flavor that makes it a pleasant addition to any recipe - breads, muffins, even soups. The mild flavor and thickening properties of teff seed make it an ideal ingredient for a number of applications. When ground into flour, teff can be used in place of wheat flour in many recipes. Whole teff seeds can be used in much the same way as millet, poppy seeds, or barley. Try the following ideas to get you started cooking with teff: 

·        Combine one part teff seeds to three parts water and cook on the stovetop to make a thick and hearty soup. Sprinkle with cinnamon (or berbere).  Top off with fresh fruit and roasted nuts. One cup of uncooked teff prepared this way will provide 62 percent of your daily intake of dietary fiber.

·        Make nutritious vegan burgers combining cooked teff seeds with chopped onions and garlic, together with fresh herbs.  Shape the mixture into patties and brush with olive oil.  Grill lightly on both sides. Serve on a gluten-free bun with lettuce and tomatoes.

·        Stir seeds in soups and stews to add thickness, flavor and nutrition.

·        Add seeds to muffins, pancakes, waffles and other baked goods by stirring them into the batter or sprinkling on top as a garnish.

At Mesob, we can make 100% teff injera upon request.  You must call a day in advance.  Our homemade everyday injera does contain wheat and barley.  This is because the environmental conditions in Montclair, NJ  (including humidity and daily temperature) makes 100% teff flour injera more time consuming to prepare, ferment, and cook.  But if you call ahead, we will definitely make it for you!

Despite its wide variety of applications and power-packed nutritional profile, teff is still not widely available. If you are lucky enough to live near an ethnic market, good health food store or specialty grocer, look for teff seed alongside other gluten-free products.

If teff is not available from your favorite gluten-free vendor, consider requesting a special order. As teff is still one of the lesser-known alternative grains, many retailers might not be aware of its commercial viability. Bringing teff to the attention of local retailers could open up new options for your fellow gluten-free consumers while adding convenience to your own shopping. 

Alternatively, teff can be found online from a number of specialty sources, such as:

·        Bob's Red Mill has long been known for high-quality, gluten-free products.

·        The Teff Company is an Idaho company that first brought Teff to the United States nearly twenty years ago.

More than just a wheat alternative, teff is a nutritional giant in a tiny little package. Few foods offer so much goodness in such a palatable and convenient format. Whether you suffer from gluten intolerance or are simply looking to get the most nutritional bang for your buck, it is worthwhile to add teff seed to your diet.


1 comment:

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