Sunday, February 06, 2005

Teff - a whole grain breakfast

Teff is an extremely small a tiny grain native to northern Africa; the seeds are oval and typically measure only 1mm x 0.5mm. For comparison, millet with the hull removed is a sphere approximately 2mm in diameter, and wheat berries are an oval approximately 7mm long and 3mm wide (note: measurements are from grains I had on hand; I have no idea how typical these are for these three species).

My SO and I enjoy trying various whole grains, and so when we first saw teff (which can apparently also be spelled tef) in the store a few years ago we couldn't help but give it a try. Handling teff can be somewhat challenging, as it has the consistency of fine sand, but other than that it can be treated like any whole grain. Teff cooks up into a soft porridge, and has a pleasant whole-grainy taste. To be honest, when simply boiled and eaten plain teff isn't very impressive, but once you doll it up a bit it's quite delicious (much like oatmeal, in my opinion).

This past week we broke out our teff and made a quick and simple breakfast with it, and thus I thought it would make a good end-of-the-week recipe blogging post. Here's the recipe we used to make enough for the two of us for breakfast.

3 cups water
3/4 cup whole teff (I don't even want to consider how many seeds this is)
Pinch salt
Brown sugar and butter, to taste

1. Bring the water and salt to a boil
2. Add the teff and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes (less if you want it chewier, more if you want it softer)
3. Transfer into bowls and serve with butter and brown sugar.

We topped each bowl of teff with a few slices of butter, and then mixed in a few spoonfuls of brown sugar to make a somewhat sweet and hearty breakfast. You could easily mix in whatever toppings you wanted (treat it like oatmeal or cream of wheat).

Being a whole grain, teff is inherently healthful. A single serving (3/8 of a cup) of plain teff has
  • 240 Calories
  • 7.5 Calories from fat (no saturated fat)
  • no cholesterol
  • 2mg sodium
  • 50g of carbohydrates (not for the low-carb eating diabetics among us)
  • 9g of fiber (36% of your day's fiber)
  • 9 grams protein
  • 30% of your daily iron
  • 12% of your daily calcium
Of course when you add in your toppings (e.g. butter and sugar above) you will increase the fat and carbohydrate content respectively.

Teff is typically available in specialty markets; we've often found it produced by Bob's Red Mill, which has an online store you can order it from (or, if you live near Portland, you could probably just drive to their store).

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