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Teff: The Grain from Ethiopia


by: Andreia Domingues Moreiras (articuloz.com author)

Translation by: Hannah H.

The Origin of Teff

This tiny dark brown grain which has been cultivated for 5,000 years is native to Ethiopia. It is one of most widely grown and used grains in the country. It is from this grain that the flour used to prepare "Injera", a type of large tortilla which is served with "wot", a traditional stew in Ethiopia. Other countries have begun to grow and sell teff worldwide due to its easy adaptation to arid terrain and because of its rapid growth.

Properties of Teff

It has a high nutritional value much greater than that of other grains such as wheat or barley, and immediately supplies a lasting vital energy. It is a gluten free grain, which makes it ideal for wheat intolerance diets or diets for people with Celiac disease. It is rich in slow acting and slow-to-breakdown carbohydrates, making it useful for high performance athletes who have a rapid and prolonged need for carbohydrates.

Teff also is very good for people who suffer from diabetes type II by controlling blood glucose levels or for people who are overweight who want to control their weight with something that is highly satiating and that regulates the appetite. It is high in fiber and extremely easy to digest. It has a high percentage of starch that can be slowly ingested, which makes it great for stimulating intestinal flora by behaving as though it were a probiotic.

It is rich in available minerals such as Ca, Mg, Mn, and K, which help the body to recuperate after physical exertion or mental stress. It's high calcium content is recognized as a recommendation for decalcification processes, osteoporosis, and childhood growth. It is a source of eight essential amino acids, notably lysine, which is not found or is scarce in some grains such as wheat and barley. Lysine is very important, because it is involved in the metabolic processing of calcium by helping calcium to pass from the bloodstream into the bone.

Nutritional Information for Teff (per 100 grams of flour)

Energy value: 330 Kcal/1399 Kj.
Protein: 13.3g
Carbohydrates: 65, 4g
Fats: 2.1 g
Saturated: 0.7 g
Monounsaturated: 0.7g
Polyunsaturated: 0.7g
Fiber: 7.9g
Calcium: 170mg
Potassium: 480mg
Iron: 5.4mg
Vitamin C: 0.2mg
Manganese: 3.8mg
Copper: 0.7g
Zinc: 4.4mg
Magnesium: 186mg

Cooking With Teff

Because of its versatility in the kitchen, teff is widely used in the making of pastries and recipes that require baking, as well as as in all types of soup, stews, and desserts. Because of its size and high density, the amount used in the making of dishes is much less than other seeds or flours that you might want to replace.

For example: 1/2 cup of Teff replaces one cup of sesame seeds. Teff flour, when cooked, takes on a gelatinous texture, which makes it perfect for thickening puddings or dishes that require such. Because it is a good thickener, it is great for use in creams and sauces, sweet as well as salty. It can be sweetened with agave syrup or honey when making breads, biscuits, cookies, pastries, energy bars, etc.

Did You Know that Teff...

In addition to using the teff grain for food in Ethiopia, its straw, which is obtained from the threshing of the grain, is also used as forage for livestock being superior to the straw of other grains. They also use teff straw to reinforce clay and plaster in the construction of buildings. The starch from teff also can be used in natural cosmetics because of its thickening quality.

Where Do You Buy Teff?

You can find it in our terra Gaia herb shop.

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