Teff: Such a Powerhouse it’s Considered “Flour of the Week!”

While shopping in the bulk food area of our local whole foods store a few years ago, I noticed a sign, “FLOUR of the WEEK: TEFF!” Next to this announcement was a break-down of this grain’s nutrition profile: Serving Size 1.1 oz., with approx. 15.2 servings/pound; 113 calories per serving, total fat 1 g or 2%, saturated fat 0g, cholesterol 0mg, sodium 5mg, total carbohydrate 22g or 7%, dietary fiber 4g or 16%, sugars 0g, protein 4g, calcium 5%, and iron 13%.

If you can get past all the scientific mumbo-jumbo to the bottom line, you’ll see that this grain is one healthy powerhouse! I was impressed so I bought a few cups-worth and have been using it ever since.

This highly nutritious, pleasingly light, uniquely flavored whole grain flour is made from the smallest grain in the world. Compared to other grains, teff flour has a much larger percentage of bran and germ so it's a very good source of dietary fiber, protein and iron. And to top it off, it’s gluten free! History-wise, it’s been a nourishing staple of highland Ethiopians for centuries.

The only drawback I see to teff is the need to buy it as a pre-ground flour, due to its small size—it is almost impossible to grind in your home mill, so you do need to get it from a whole foods store or whole grain supplier. This means then, that it should be stored either in the fridge or freezer. It will store well this way for up to six months.

As I researched this flour, there were two names that repeatedly kept coming up—Bob’s Red Mill (found in most grocery stores; on their website, www.bobsredmill.com, and on www.amazon.com) and www.nutsonline.com. Here’s a customer review from the Amazon.com site regarding Bob’s product:

“I buy this flour for our younger son who is on Gluten-free/Casein-free diet, but ALL family enjoy teff pancakes. I like Bob’s Red Mill as my source for this flour—it’s been the best of all I’ve tried.” And then she shared her easy teff pancake recipe:

Teff Flour Pancakes

Serving size: 1
Calories per serving: 330

3 large eggs
2 tablespoons raw honey
4 cups water
2 1/4 cups teff flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda + 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (you can add this mix at the end as a multi-purpose rising agent for any baking)

1. Using a blender, mix all pancake ingredients on medium until smooth. If the dough is too thick, add 1/4-1/2 cup water to thin batter for a runnier consistency.

2. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Once hot add a small amount of butter for each spoonful of batter.

3. Fry on medium-low heat for about a minute on each side. Flip the pancake once some bubbles appear on the surface of the first side, making sure not to burn the bottom side. Test the first pancake to make sure it's cooked through. If you need to cook for a longer time, be sure the heat is low enough not to burn the outside.

4. Serve with butter and fruit, drizzled with a dash of pure maple syrup.

Recipe formatted with the Cook'n Recipe Software from DVO Enterprises.

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The nutsonline.com folks had a lot of interesting information on the flour. Here I learned that teff is a relative of millet but has a more interesting taste. It is used to make "injera," an Ethiopian crepe-like bread. They recommend that if you are not used to teff or are experiencing some indigestion-like symptoms, you may need to mix all-purpose flour or pancake mix with it to dilute its effects. Then slowly increase your teff intake as your body gets used to it. This is typical of most whole grains, though.

Nutsonline.com had customer reviews as well. One customer reported: “It smelled a bit like hazlenuts when I opened the package. I bought this to use in a recipe for a tart crust. It substitutes for about half of the all-purpose flour. It was absolutely delicious! It acted more like a pastry flour in this recipe (but with a lot more calcium and iron- this grain is a nutrient powerhouse). The crust was unbelievably light and moist (almost like freshly made shortbread) and was much better tasting than the typical tart crust.” Again, I was impressed.

Another customer said she loved the quality of the product and how the finely ground texture was especially nice for the injera bread that she makes. If interested, you might go to their site, www.nutsonline.com/cookingbaking/grains/teff/flour and check it out. They have one pound bags for $4.99.

All this said, it’s easy to see why my whole foods store featured it as the flour of the week!

  •   www.nuts.com
  •   www.familyfood.co.za
  •   www.influenster.com
  •   www.onegreenplanet.org
  •   www.yumuniverse.com

    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
    Email the author! alice@dvo.com

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