Teff is the smallest grain in the world. It measures less than 1 mm in diameter. That is tinier than a poppy seed!
People living in the modern-day territories of Ethiopia and Eritrea were the first to grow teff in cultivated conditions. This happened long before the birth of Christ. Around 1000 BC.
Injera is actually a gigantic flat pancake. A very thin one and with many large holes. I think it is a splendid culinary invention. Because you don’t need any utensils to eat it. Due to its flexibility, thinness and large size, this pancake serves as an entire dinner set: a tablecloth, plate, fork and knife!
Okay, how does this look like in real life? When a pancake is ready, different foods are loaded on top of it. During a meal, pieces of injera are torn and used to grab the stuff found on a pancake. Once everything is eaten, there is no mess and dirty dishes! Smart.
A traditional preparation process of injera is simple but requires a couple days. First, raw teff flour is mixed with water and left at room temperature for 24-48 hours to ferment. Then salt is added. Then the batter is baked either on a stove or on a clay plate over fire.
Health benefits of teff
Health benefits of raw teff may surprise you. I will summarize the highlights.
First of all, as I mentioned in the teff dessert post, teff is very filling due to the resistant starch.
Resistant starch is type of fermentable starch discovered just a while ago. FYI, all starches are complex carbohydrates. Fermentable means you cannot digest it and therefore this starch reaches your colon (large intestine) undigested. In a colon, friendly bacteria takes care of resistant starch by literally feeding on it. This gives you a much better-functioning digestive system eventually.
Remember, a healthy gut is more than half of a battle already!
As for the appetite-curbing effects, resistant starch increases insulin sensitivity and lowers blood glucose levels after meals. The end result? Your feel fuller, your appetite is suppressed and you eat less. Exactly what we need on a raw food diet!
Resistance starch truly deserves 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 half of daily magnesium needs (185 mg). And with all the iron you need in a day (7.5 mg)!
As opposed to other grains and pseudograins which are poor sources of calcium, teff is a very decent source of it. One serving of teff provides about a fifth of suggested daily calcium intake (180 mg).
Here is a surprise. Teff has more calcium than milk! Look, milk has about 120 mg of calcium per 100 grams while teff has 180 mg per 100 grams!
The average protein content of different teff varieties is about 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. The reason? It gets digested quickly.
Teff is low in fat. But at the same time very filling. Thanks to the resistant starch.
This is a precisely the combination many raw fooders look for: low fat and filling. That is because many plant foods are not filling. On the other hand, high-fat foods (nuts, avocados, etc.) are filling but are hard to digest.
How to eat teff
Teff is perfect in raw form.
First of all, teff tastes great. Both, by itself and mixed with sweet, sour, and salty foods. Meaning, you can add teff to smoothies, soups and even salads!
Relative to other grains, teff is low in antinutrients. Just some phytic acid, that’s it. Simply soak teff flour in acidic water for 24-36 hours to remove phytic acid. To learn more about soaking, check this post.
However, because teff is high in indigestible resistance starch, start slowly. For example, on the first day, add a couple tablespoons to your smoothie. The next day, add more. The next week, make a whole meal out of it.
Teff is conveniently available as a flour. But if you buy teff grain and grind it before preparing something, the flavor is more pronounced.
Teff in Canada and US
Teff as a crop is resistant to extreme temperatures and many pests. So, it is surprising that in Canada (and US) it is largely unknown to farmers.
Teff’s main drawback, however, is its tiny size. In other words, it is hard to plant and harvest it.
Teff’s nutritional profile is greatly realized here though. To the point that agricultural equipment is being developed specifically for this capricious grain. Actually, some equipment is already on the market.
Where to buy teff
Are you looking for a better deal? Then go for bulk. You can get teff flour in bulk from Amazon (1-kg bags). Nuts.com is another place. It has good prices and offers teff flour in different bulk quantities.
To conclude? Try this amazing food. Raw, of course. There is a good chance that you will like it!