The Remarkable Properties of Teff Gluten-Free Flour
Meet teff, the new miracle grain from Ethiopia that’s gluten-free and remarkably high in protein, iron and calcium. It’s similar to other ancient grains such as quinoa, only better. Some have already called teff the “ultimate gluten-free crop” and celebrities such as Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow have embraced this ancient grain as part of a healthy, nutritious diet.
Teff sounds almost too good to be true, and even native Ethiopians are amazed by the healthy nutrient content of teff. Imagine being told that a food that you grew up with is a new miracle grain! However, nutritionists in Europe have verified that teff is indeed worthy of being considered the next big super grain. If you enjoy the nutritional benefits of quinoa, you’ll enjoy teff even more.
That’s because teff comes packed with protein, iron and calcium. It is also an excellent source of Vitamin C and several essential amino acids. Even head-to-head with other ancient grains, Teff is a superstar. Take calcium, for example. A cup of cooked teff offers 123 mg of calcium, about the same amount as in a half-cup of cooked spinach.
Teff is also a great source of protein for vegetarians. In fact, teff is 13 percent protein, which makes it a great source of slow release energy – and one big reason why Ethiopia’s world-class long-distance runners swear by it as part of their training regimen.
The key selling point of teff, however, is that it’s gluten-free. And that’s why teff, when ground into wheat flour, is starting to attract Western consumers looking for gluten-free food ingredients. Teff has a mild taste that’s both sweet and light, so it’s easy to substitute into almost any recipe.
Back in Ethiopia, teff has been part of the traditional diet for centuries. In Ethiopia, teff is most commonly consumed in the form of injera, the Ethiopian national bread that’s spongy and fermented. But the tiny gold and red teff seeds (approximately the size of poppy seeds) are nearly ubiquitous anywhere you look in Ethiopia. According to The Guardian, teff grain accounts for 20 percent of all land under cultivation in Ethiopia and over 6.3 million farmers grow teff, making teff “a national obsession.”
Until now, however, it’s been difficult to find teff on the shelves of Western supermarkets. Only in-the-know celebrities and health aficionados have known about the remarkable properties of teff gluten-free flour and where to buy it. But as word of mouth has spread – thanks in part to Ethiopian immigrants making their way to the West – people have discovered the many variable uses of teff flour – everything from breads and pastas to waffles, pancakes and pizza crust.
Basically, for anything you’d use wheat flour, you can also use teff gluten-free flour. For vegetarians and people on a non-dairy diet, this could end up being a tremendous way to ensure they are getting enough daily protein and calcium. In Ethiopia, for example, people get nearly two-thirds of their dietary protein just from teff.
So where do you go if you want to experience teff first-hand and make it part of your diet? You can start by looking for it under the brand name “Lielit" in a supermarket or health food store near you.