About teff – lilliputian but almighty grain (perfect for raw vegans)


About teff - lilliputian but almighty grain - comparisonAs promised, here is a little essay about teff. Plus found in it starch.

Teff is the smallest grain known to the modern world. It measures less than 1 mm in diameter which is tinier than a poppy seed.

People living on the modern-day territories of Ethiopia and Eritrea were the first to grow it in cultivated conditions. This happened long before the birth of Christ, around 1000 BC.






From the deep antiquity and up until these days teff grain is milled into the flour and made into injera. Injera is adored in Ethiopia and Eritrea to the point that it is eaten at least twice per day! And not only there! But in all Ethiopian restaurants around the world injera pancake is always a main dish. It is in fact a pancake, a very thin one and with many large holes. I think it is a splendid culinary invention as you don’t need any utensils to eat it. Due to its flexibility, thinness and usually a large size, this pancake serves as entire dinner set – a tablecloth, plate, fork and knife.

Okay, how does this look like in real life? When a pancake is ready, different food is loaded on top of it. During a meal, pieces of injera are torn and used to grab delicatessens found on a pancake. Once everything is eaten, what is left is no mess and dirty dishes! Smart.

The traditional preparation process of injera is simple but may require a couple days. First, raw teff flour is mixed with water and left at room temperature for 24-48 hours to ferment (evident by the appearance of bubbles). Then salt is added and the batter is baked either on a stove or on a clay plate over fire.




Health benefits of teff


Health benefits of teff grain in raw state might very likely leave you in awe. I will summarize the highlights.


Resistant starch

First of all, as I mentioned in the teff dessert recipe post, teff is very filling due to found in it resistant starch. Resistant starch is type of fermentable starch discovered just a while ago (all starches are complex carbohydrates). Fermentable means you cannot digest it and therefore starch reaches your colon (large intestine) undigested. In a colon, friendly bacteria takes care of resistant starch by literally feeding on it, with time giving you a much better-functioning digestive system. A healthy digestive system is more than a half of battle already. As for appetite-curbing effects, resistant starch significantly increases insulin sensitivity and lowers blood glucose levels after meals. The end result? Your feel fuller, your appetite is suppressed and you eat less.

Resistance starch truly deserves much more attention, so I will try to devote a post to it in the future.



In term of micronutrients, one serving (100 g) of raw teff provides you with a half (185 mg) of daily magnesium needs and with nearly all (7.5 mg) daily iron needs! As opposed to other grains and pseudograins which are poor sources of calcium, it is also high in this teeth-and-bone-supporting mineral, providing you with about a fifth (180 mg) of daily calcium needs. Here is a surprise – teff has even more calcium per 100 gram than milk! Look, milk has about 120 mg of calcium per 100 grams while teff has about 180 mg per 100 grams!



Now, protein. The average protein content of different teff varieties is around 14%, while some dark-coloured varieties might have up to 20% of protein. For comparison, beef contains about 25% of protein. Not bad for a plant, ha? Besides, teff protein is easy on your gut as it digests very quickly.



Teff is very low in fat. And at the same time very filling, thanks to the resistant starch. This is a precisely the combination many raw fooders look for in food – low fat and filling. That is because most raw vegan low-fat food is not filling. On the other hand, high-fat food (nuts, avocados, etc.) is filling but hard on digestion and in large quantities bad for health.




How to eat teff


Teff is perfect in raw form.  First of all, it tastes great in raw form. Both, by itself and mixed with different flavors: sweet, sour, salty. Meaning, you can add it to sweet smoothies as well as savory veggie soups. What’s important, is that it’s safe eating it raw. The reason is, relative to other grains, it has a low level of antinutrients; just some phytic acid, that’s it. Raw teff is also easy on digestion. Having said that, because it is high in indigestible resistance starch, if you never had teff before, you might need to start slowly, depending on the health of your digestive system. For example, the first day you take it, add a couple tablespoons to smoothies. The next day, add more. The next week, make a whole meal out of it.

Although teff is available as flour, if you buy teff seeds and grind them just before preparing something, the flavor would be more pronounced.




Teff in Canada and US


Teff as crop is resistant to extreme temperatures and many pests, so it is surprising that in US and Canada it is largely unknown to farmers. Its main flaw, however, is its tiny size which makes it hard to plant and harvest. Its nutritional worth is greatly realized here though, and agricultural equipment is being developed specifically for this capricious grain. Actually, some equipment is already on the market.




Where to buy it


You can buy teff grain in most health food places and some conventional stores. Bob’s Red Mill carries teff as a whole grain and as a flour.

If you are looking for teff in bulk, Calyx.com has teff grain and teff flour in bulk (25 lb or 11.3 kg each).


Try it, raw of course, there is a good chance that you will like it!





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  1. Hi, many time I have enjoyed those Ethiopian pancakes but had no idea they where this Teff grain you have written about. It does sound like a pretty versatile grain and I think it would be great if it was more widely available as it has good nutritional value and pretty high in calcium and protein. There is so much excellent natural food available and it’s a shame that the companies who make massive profits from processed food are not allowing this information to be available to the public. So it’s awesome that you have started this website and wish you the best of luck in sharing your knowledge with a wider audience.

    • Manny you have made an important point about big companies concealing the info. Thanks.

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