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Get This New Superfood: Ethiopian Teff Grain

Get This New Superfood: Ethiopian Teff Grain


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This rare and nutrient-rich cereal may replace quinoa as the world’s newest superfood

Ethiopians harvesting the teff grain, where this superfood is a dietary and economic staple.

If you haven’t heard of the teff grain — a cereal grain native to Ethiopia— listen up, because this grain is likely to replace quinoa as the world’s newest superfood, according to agricultural experts.

"Ethiopians are proud of the crop because it is almost our identity," Solomon Chanyalew, director of the Debre Zeyt Agricultural Research Centre, a teff research hub told New Vision. “But these days, teff is getting global attention.”

So what makes it a superfood? According to Chanyalew, the colorful grain, similar to a poppy seed, is packed with calcium and Vitamin C, and is gluten free(making it ideal for those suffering from Celiac disease and diabetes). In Ethiopia, the grain is used to make injera, a spongy fermented pancake that’s an accompaniment to just about every meal. In the West, celebrity chefs are starting to catch on and are pounding the grain into flour to make gluten-free bread items.

“Teff is gaining popularity because it’s one of those super grains that is fairly easy to grow and packs an amazing nutritional punch,” Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, a member of the Grain Foods Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board, told The Daily Meal.


The gluten-free ancient grain that rivals quinoa

Teff has nearly double the iron, half the fat and less sugar than the competition.

By Jessica Scott-Reid Updated August 28, 2016

Meet the Ethiopian Ancient grain giving quinoa a run for its money. (Photo, Bob’s Red Mill.)

Teff may be one of the world’s smallest grains — technically speaking, like quinoa it’s a seed — but it’s chock-full of protein, iron and minerals.

A tall grass grown mainly in Ethiopia, teff has been an key local staple for centuries, and Ethiopians eat it up to three times a day. Speculated to be the secret weapon of the country’s long-distance running stars by both athletes and researchers, it’s not so secret anymore: sales of the cereal outside of Africa are soaring (rising 58 percent in the US in 2014, according to market research) due to global interest in ancient grains and their multitude of health benefits.


Is Teff The New Superfood?

Health food junkies, we've got your newest fix. Give the quinoa a break, let kale take a rest, and give teff a chance. If you're a regular at the health food store, you've definitely seen teff around -- if not in its tiny grain form than at least ground as a flour. If you were brave enough to venture into the unknown, you gave it a try. And if you knew what you were doing with this super grain, you quickly discovered your newest favorite health food.

Teff is a tiny grain that is the national pride of Ethiopia. While it's been consumed there for thousands of years -- we're talking way back BC -- it's starting to get some global attention, and this is good news for all of us. Teff is a durable crop that can grow in almost any climate, and that same flexible characteristic holds true in the kitchen, too. As a bonus, teff boasts a ton of good-for-you nutrition. It's one of those win-win foods. Now, we don't want you to drop all of your other favorite health foods and just eat teff until the next big superfood comes along, but we do think it's worth a try. Here's why:


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"Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin which is required for blood clotting and also bone health," Crawford says.

"Interestingly, teff is the only one of the three 'grains' which contains this. Could teff be the new bone health superfood?"

In its whole, grain form, teff performs similarly to semolina or polenta, quickly becoming a thick gruel, which is perfect for soaking up sauces or eating as a porridge.

Adding raw or toasted seeds to a salad, or tossing a handful in baking is going to reap nutritional benefits, however where teff truly comes into its own is in the form of flour.

Due to its small size the milling process is not believed to remove any of the germ or bran and so all of the nutrients are retained. Unlike some other gluten-free flours that create oddly textured baked goods, it's quite good to work with.

A 2012 study by the Centre of Food at the Manchester Metropolitan University, found that eating bread made from teff during pregnancy maintains iron stores. Further studies at the Centre suggest it improves iron stores in female athletes too. When the flour is fermented, such as a sourdough process, it increases the amount of iron absorbed into the system.

But dietitian Georgie Rist cautions against applying the "superfood" label.

"Every week there is a new superfood. We forget that we have been eating superfoods for years, but just not calling them that," she says.

"Variety is the spice of life and it is important to have a number of options to include in a healthy, balanced whole food diet. Teff is simply an addition to our plethora of whole grains, which is exciting."

Coconut, banana and cherry muffins

2 tbsp coconut sugar or brown sugar

⅔ cup frozen cherries, roughly chopped

3 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork

Preheat oven to 180C and line your muffin tray with cases.

Combine the linseed, half the shredded coconut and one tablespoon of sugar into a bowl and mix together. Set aside to sprinkle on top of your muffins before baking.

Mix the coconut oil and remaining one tablespoon of sugar until well combined. Beat in two eggs then half the coconut flour. Mix well to ensure it is combined before adding the remaining eggs, and then the rest of the flour.

Add the teff, baking powder, yoghurt, remaining coconut, banana and cherries to your batter and stir well to combine.

Spoon into the cases and sprinkle the coconut crumble mixture evenly over the top.

Bake until they are firm and a skewer comes out clean. Cooking time varies in different ovens but it will be about 30 minutes.


4. Toasted Turmeric Milk Oat and Teff Porridge

Looking for the perfect breakfast? Look no further. This Turmeric Milk Oat and Teff Porridge recipe is easy, nutritious and most importantly – super tasty. Plus, this porridge gets its golden color from turmeric so it has tons of heal benefits come with using the magical spice.


Ethiopia's teff grain set to be the world's next superfood

Under a searing midday sun, a herd of cattle circles atop a pile of golden teff, thrashing the wheat-like grain, a method that has been practiced by Ethiopian farmers for centuries.

The crop, mostly grown in the Horn of Africa, is a key part of the country's heritage and a crucial food staple, but is also gaining increased interest abroad among health afficionados seeking a nutritious, gluten-free alternative to wheat.

"Ethiopians are proud of the crop because it is almost our identity," said Solomon Chanyalew, director of the Debre Zeyt Agricultural Research Centre, a teff research hub.

"But these days, teff is getting global attention," he said.

Relatively unknown outside of Ethiopia - for now - the cereal is predicted to replace quinoa as the latest global "super-food."

But a ban on exports to control price hikes at home has left farmers tied to local consumers, limiting their contribution to growing markets abroad.

The poppy-seed sized grain is renowned for its nutritional qualities. Mineral-rich and high in protein, teff is also a slow-releasing food, ideal for diabetics, and sought after by people with a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease.

"Teff is not only gluten-free, which is an increasingly important aspect of foods that is being sought out, but it's also incredibly nutritious. Many people consider teff to be a super-food," said Khalid Bomba, CEO of Ethiopia's Agricultural Transformation Agency.

In Ethiopia, teff is used to make injera, a spongy fermented pancake topped with meat or vegetable stew and consumed with an almost religious devotion, often three times a day.

In the West however, where it is touted by celebrity chefs and health-conscious Hollywood stars, the grain is most commonly ground into flour and used to make biscuits, breads, pastas and even teff juice.

It is also a resilient crop it can grow between sea level and 3,000 meters and is both drought- and flood-resistant, ideal for Ethiopia's dry highlands.

But despite its versatility, Ethiopia's 6.5 million teff farmers struggle to meet local demand - let alone growing demand from abroad - with limited access to seed varieties, fertilizers and modern machinery that would allow for higher yields.

Teff also suffers from a lack of research since it is considered an "orphan crop," unlike global crops like rice, wheat, and maize, which are widely studied and well-funded.

"People don't want to work on teff, basically, it's not paying," said Kebebew Assefa, one of only two full-time teff researchers in Ethiopia.

Regardless, productivity has climbed to bridge the supply gap, with the introduction of 19 new teff varieties and improved farming techniques.

In the last four years, yields have increased from 1.2 to 1.5 million tons per hectare, which Khalid said bodes well.

"The production increases are what gives us the confidence that Ethiopia will be able to compete at a global level when it comes to tapping into the increasing demand from consumers in Europe, in London, or New York or Brisbane," he said.

An estimated two million tons per hectare is required to reach export potential.

For now, the ban on exports remains in place to avoid the pitfalls of quinoa in Bolivia, where most people could not afford the staple crop after the surge in global popularity.

The price of teff - $72 per quintal - is already too expensive for the majority of Ethiopians who earn less than two dollars per day.

But farmers are eager to export their teff, well aware of the higher prices they can fetch.

"I want to sell it abroad because it's going to have a good market and I will earn good money and it will bring good motivation for my work," said Tirunesh Merete, 60, who has been growing teff for nearly four decades.

Neighbouring farmer Amha Abraham said he is keen to make more money, but recognizes that local markets need to be fed first.

"If we export teff to other countries then we can get a lot of money, but we must provide first for our country's consumption," he said, standing near a giant pile of golden teff stalks, used for roofing and as cattle feed.

Until the export ban is lifted, Ethiopian farmers remain excluded from a growing international industry, with teff products appearing on shelves in health food stores across North America and Europe.


Ethiopia’s teff grain – the new superfood in town?

Under a searing midday sun, a herd of cattle circles atop a pile of golden teff, thrashing the wheat-like grain, a method that has been practised by Ethiopian farmers for centuries. The crop, mostly grown in the Horn of Africa, is a key part of the country’s heritage and a crucial food staple, but is also gaining increased interest abroad among health afficionados seeking a nutritious, gluten-free alternative to wheat. Also Read - Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day: Live a longer and healthier life

‘Ethiopians are proud of the crop because it is almost our identity,’ said Solomon Chanyalew, director of the Debre Zeyt Agricultural Research Centre, a teff research hub. ‘But these days, teff is getting global attention,’ he said. Relatively unknown outside of Ethiopia — for now — the cereal is predicted to replace quinoa as the latest global ‘super-food’. But a ban on exports to control price hikes at home has left farmers tied to local consumers, limiting their contribution to growing markets abroad. Also Read - Have blackcurrants daily to control your diabetes: A few interesting ways of adding it to your diet

The poppy-seed sized grain is renowned for its nutritional qualities. Mineral-rich and high in protein, teff is also a slow-releasing food, ideal for diabetics, and sought after by people with a gluten intolerance, or Celiac disease. ‘Teff is not only gluten-free, which is an increasingly important aspect of foods that is being sought out, but it’s also incredibly nutritious. Many people consider teff to be a super-food,’ said Khalid Bomba, CEO of Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency. Read more about the top Indian superfoods.

In Ethiopia, teff is used to make injera, a spongy fermented pancake topped with meat or vegetable stew and consumed with an almost religious devotion, often three times a day. In the West however, where it is touted by celebrity chefs and health-conscious Hollywood stars, the grain is most commonly ground into flour and used to make biscuits, breads, pastas and even teff juice. It is also a resilient crop it can grow between sea level and 3,000 metres and is both drought- and flood-resistant, ideal for Ethiopia’s dry highlands.

But despite its versatility, Ethiopia’s 6.5 million teff farmers struggle to meet local demand — let alone growing demand from abroad — with limited access to seed varieties, fertilisers and modern machinery that would allow for higher yields. Teff also suffers from a lack of research since it is considered an “orphan crop”, unlike global crops like rice, wheat, and maize, which are widely studied and well-funded. ‘People don’t want to work on teff, basically, it’s not paying,’ said Kebebew Assefa, one of only two full-time teff researchers in Ethiopia.

Risk of price hike

Regardless, productivity has climbed to bridge the supply gap, with the introduction of 19 new teff varieties and improved farming techniques. In the last four years, yields have increased from 1.2 to 1.5 million tonnes per hectare, which Khalid said bodes well. ‘The production increases are what gives us the confidence that Ethiopia will be able to compete at a global level when it comes to tapping into the increasing demand from consumers in Europe, in London, or New York or Brisbane,’ he said. An estimated two million tonnes per hectare is required to reach export potential.

For now, the ban on exports remains in place to avoid the pitfalls of quinoa in Bolivia, where most people could not afford the staple crop after the surge in global popularity. The price of teff — $72 (52 euros) per quintal — is already too expensive for the majority of Ethiopians who earn less than two dollars per day. But farmers are eager to export their teff, well aware of the higher prices they can fetch.

‘I want to sell it abroad because it’s going to have a good market and I will earn good money and it will bring good motivation for my work,’ said Tirunesh Merete, 60, who has been growing teff for nearly four decades. Neighbouring farmer Amha Abraham said he is keen to make more money, but recognises that local markets need to be fed first. ‘If we export teff to other countries then we can get a lot of money, but we must provide first for our country’s consumption,’ he said, standing near a giant pile of golden teff stalks, used for roofing and as cattle feed.

Until the export ban is lifted, Ethiopian farmers remain excluded from a growing international industry, with teff products appearing on shelves in health food stores across North America and Europe. ‘Everybody has started talking about gluten-free,’ said Rob Roffel, CEO of the Dutch company Consenza, which produces gluten-free foods from teff grown in the Netherlands. ‘The demand for gluten-free foods mainly was for Celiacs… but what we see now more and more is other target groups interested in teff flour,’ he said, adding that his business has grown 30 percent annually since 2006.

In the meantime, Khalid said he has high hopes for teff. ‘If you look at what’s happened with quinoa, it’s a $150 million market in five years and teff is actually much more nutritious and much more resilient than quinoa,’ he said. ‘So we think there’s a much bigger market opportunity for teff.’

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Step aside quinoa: is teff the new ‘superfood’ grain?

Chia seeds, quinoa and coconut everything. These products have taken over our shelves in the quest for a healthy diet. Now there’s a new contender to add to the gluten-free mix: the Ethiopian grain teff.

Teff is the smallest known grain in the world, tinier even than a poppy seed. It’s used most commonly in the flatbread injera, which is eaten across East Africa. But teff can also be added to cakes and muffins, eaten as porridge or used as a polenta replacement.

Hailed by some as the next big “superfood”, just how super is this ancient little seed?

“It definitely ticks a lot of the healthy food boxes good fat profile, high micronutrient and mineral content and bonus – gluten free,” says nutritionist Dr Michelle Crawford.

Teff is high in iron and calcium and packed full of B vitamins, which makes it great for energy plus it has an estimated 20-30 per cent resistant starch, which is a type of fibre that helps blood sugar management, weight control and maintaining gastrointestinal health.

Available in some health food stores and Coles supermarkets, Teff isn’t the first power-packed product to hit the shops in recent years. So you could be forgiven for asking: how does it measure up to current go-to ingredients quinoa and chia seeds?

“Scientifically it’s not really fair to compare cereals and seeds. Each one has their own benefits and downfalls,” Crawford says. “Teff is a predominantly carbohydrate-based grain and is similar to quinoa in carbohydrate and protein content. It is probably fairest to compare these two.”

Chia and quinoa contain folate whereas teff has none. But teff packs a little something that the others do not.

“Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin which is required for blood clotting and also bone health,” Crawford says.

“Interestingly, teff is the only one of the three ‘grains’ which contains this. Could teff be the new bone health superfood?”

In its whole, grain form, teff performs similarly to semolina or polenta, quickly becoming a thick gruel, which is perfect for soaking up sauces or eating as a porridge.

Adding raw or toasted seeds to a salad, or tossing a handful in baking is going to reap nutritional benefits, however where teff truly comes into its own is in the form of flour.

Due to its small size the milling process is not believed to remove any of the germ or bran and so all of the nutrients are retained. Unlike some other gluten-free flours that create oddly textured baked goods, it’s quite good to work with.

A 2012 study by the Centre of Food at the Manchester Metropolitan University, found that eating bread made from teff during pregnancy maintains iron stores. Further studies at the Centre suggest it improves iron stores in female athletes too. When the flour is fermented, such as a sourdough process, it increases the amount of iron absorbed into the system.

But dietitian Georgie Rist cautions against applying the “superfood” label.

“Every week there is a new superfood. We forget that we have been eating superfoods for years, but just not calling them that,” she says.

“Variety is the spice of life and it is important to have a number of options to include in a healthy, balanced whole food diet. Teff is simply an addition to our plethora of whole grains, which is exciting.”


Tiny grain, big nutrition

What makes teff such a nutritional powerhouse? This poppy-seed-like grain is high in protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and vitamin B6. It contains high levels of lysine, the amino acid that our bodies use to build and maintain muscle tissue. It's gluten-free and easily digestible, so it's good for people who have Celiac disease or other digestive conditions. And it has a low glycemic index, so it's a good choice for diabetics or others who need to closely regulate their blood sugar levels.

So, yeah, teff has a lot going for it, and it doesn't hurt that it tastes great and can be used in a wide variety of sweet and savory dishes.


Ethiopian Food

Ethiopian Food. If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re in for a special surprise. Flavorful and delicious, this unique set of dishes is quite unlike any other. And if you have already tried it, hopefully this little explanation of its nuances will help you appreciate it more!

Ethiopia is a diverse country with diverse cultures, and while there are some dishes that are unique to some parts of the country, this is our guide to the staples that are eaten and available in most parts of the country – Injera, the different sauces that go with it, seasonal specialties, and of course, spices!

This guide also presents Ethiopian food cultures and norms around how food is served and consumed which is usually in a social setting.

Teff and The Mighty Injera

The foundation of most Ethiopian dishes is Injera, a round shaped soft flatbread, traditionally made with fermented Teff flour. Teff is a tiny gluten-free grain native to the Ethiopian highlands. It is rich in iron, calcium, protein and vitamins hence its status as a new super-food.

As Teff becomes readily available in our supermarkets, it is being used in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes as a gluten-free alternative to flour. In Ethiopia, Teff is mainly used for Injera but is slowly making its way into artisan bakeries.

The process of making Injera takes a few days where a thick batter of Teff flour is left to ferment to create the unique taste and look of Injera. The fermentation also gives Injera the tiny holes and spongy texture intended to absorb the amazing flavours and juices of sauces it is served under.

Although Injera is the foundation of dishes across Ethiopia, its ingredients may vary from place to place. In the south of the country, Kocho (another fermented flatbread made from the starchy Banana pseudostem) is the main food and is usually served with Kitfo or roasted collard greens. Kitfo is is one of the most popular Ethiopian foods, made with prime beef mince and spiced butter.

Ingredients and Nutrition

The use of nutrition rich vegetables, lugumes and spices in Ethiopian cooking makes it one of the healthiest in the world. Unlike most African cuisines which are high in carbohydrates and saturated fat, Ethiopian cuisine is high in protein and vitamins and is heaven for vegans and vegetarians.

The nutrition of Injera in itself is very ideal for a healthy diet as it is full of vitamins and minerals that aren’t found in a lot of other grains.

Ethiopian cuisine is wholesome and well flavored with a blend of spices and herbs. Most dishes are mildly spiced and well seasoned. Some of the most popular spices used in Ethiopian cuisine are chili blends (Berbere, Mitmita), Turmeric, Ginger and Garlic.

How to Eat Ethiopian Food

In Ethiopia, food is not meant to be eaten alone hence the popularity of sharing platters such as the Beyaynet and Mahberawi. Most Ethiopian dishes are eaten using hands, similar to in Indian cultures, hence hand washing is a must.

Start by tearing a small piece of Injera using your right hand fingers and use it to scoop the sauces and stews of the plate then slowly take and place it into your mouth.

Gursha is an Ethiopian tradition where you feed a friend or family a couple of bites during a meal, a traditional and intimate gesture.


Watch the video: Ethiopian teff hailed as new superfood (July 2022).


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