You got to love grass.. but just the right one! Common names for Eragrostis tef include teff and Williams Lovegrass. Teff is an ancient cereal native to the northern Ethiopian Highlands of Northeast Africa. It is very versatile, may promote weight loss, is great for athletes and vegetarians, is gluten-free, and tastes good!

Small seed: Great Nutritional Value

Teff is a cross between wheat and grass. Teff is a type of grass that is considered a “whole grain” cereal. The word “Teff” is an Amharic word that means “lost”. The name was kept for this grain for being so tiny, that if dropped, the grains would be close to impossible to retrieve. Because the beads are so small, it is not possible to peel them before they are milled. Teff flour is always whole wheat flour, which means that it is rich in dietary fiber.

Teff nutritional value consists of Proteins and an excellent balance of Amino acids. It is actually a much richer source of essential amino acids than wheat or barley. Teff also consists of Iron, Phosphorous, Magnesium, and Copper. It is also extremely abundant in healthy Manganese, and extremely low in Cholesterol, Saturated fat and Sodium.

Teff and Weight loss?

More and more people are looking for weight loss diets. For many years most of them learn to live with the fact that some fats they consume are bad for the body and others are good. Similar characteristics of carbohydrates are being discovered. Scientists consider it likely that the food sources that do not raise your blood sugar levels too much are less likely to be stored as fat AND maybe can even burn fat! By a steady release of glucose over several hours, Teff may help to suppress hunger, preventing you from overeating. Foods that suppress hunger are believed to be able to promote weight loss.

The Teff Athlete

The great success of the Ethiopian athletes Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele by themselves are partly attributed to teff. With its low Glycemic Index, teff provides a continuous supply of glucose to the body over several hours. it has slow digesting carbohydrates and contains a lot of iron, which unlike iron from other cereals is well absorbed into the body. These properties make teff suitable as nutrition for endurance athletes.

For athletes a high iron intake is critical for the conservation of red blood cells. A high number of red blood cells improves the intake and release of oxygen, which is directly related to the endurance and fitness. Humans usually compensate their daily loss of iron through meat, since most grains are not the best source of iron for the body. Teff is an exception, so it’s a great source of iron for vegetarians as well. The B-Vitamin complex in teff are important in relation to good energy.

Gluten-Free

Our health and our daily food intake are much more connected than we often like. Unlike 20 years ago the average Westerner consumes consciously or unconsciously a (too) large amount of grain originated gluten. Although teff contains some kind of gluten, it is suitable for people with celiac disease (gluten intolerance), because the gluten in teff does not contain the a-gliadin-fraction that causes a reaction in those with celiac disease. It does however contains all unique qualities that nutritionists find so appealing in cereals.

Gluten is also shunned by another group: People who simply think gluten encourages weight gain and who claim to feel more energetic when they don’t consume it. They say humans didn’t evolve the ability to digest certain domesticated grains containing gluten, and that avoiding gluten leads to more energy, better absorption of nutrients, and loss of excess weight.

So some people prefer a mostly gluten free diet because it has a positive effect on losing the last bits of stubborn belly fat and has a positive effect on their energy level they claim. A strict gluten-free diet forces you to stay away from some refined carbohydrates that can lead to weight gain. Could this just be where the weight-loss secret lies?

Possible Ways of Enjoying Teff

The flavor and aroma of the whole grain are mild, nutty and slightly sweet. It is similar to millet and quinoa in cooking, but the seed is much smaller and cooks faster, thus using less fuel.

Teff is an extremely versatile grain and one should not fear from experimenting in the kitchen. The easiest way of incorporating this food into your diet is by making use of teff flour. You can use teff flour for baking an apple pie crust or even for waffles and pancakes. You can even use boiled or steamed teff as an alternative to rice. Teff is also an extremely tasty and healthy grain to make porridge out of. All you need to do is add some crushed nuts and fresh fruits to your cooked teff. It is also extremely tasty to make in stews and even stir fries. Or you can make Injera, a typical Ethiopian flatbread that is on their menu daily.

RELATED: Teff Fitness Food pancake recipe

Teff Panecakes

READ MORE: Could Teff find foothold in warming California?

Sources

Eragrostis tef – Retrieved from Wikipedia:

Teff – Retrieved from Wikipedia:

Teff – Fitness Republic:

Teff voor een smakelijk glutenvrij leven – Teff Centre:

Is gluten making us fat? – Men’sHealth

First published in 2012, updated in 2019