What is Teff? Why You Should Try This Delicious Gluten-Free Grain

Gwyneth Paltrow and I don’t have a lot in common. Our hair is kind of similar but that’s about it – until now. See I recently got to try bread made from a grain called Teff. This Ethiopian grain is being hailed as the next big thing in healthy eating after Gwynnie and Victoria Beckham both sung its praises. And now it’s my turn to do the same.

large slice of dark brown teff flatbread rolled into a spiral shape

What is Teff?

Teff is an Ethiopian grain that’s about the same size as a poppyseed. It’s believed to be the world’s smallest grain.

A member of the grass family – that’s a field of it below, traditionally, teff is ground into flour and turned into a flatbread called injera (above).

However, the flour can also be used to make more traditional loaves of bread, waffles, pancakes and even biscuits – or, you can steam or boil the grain and eat it as a side dish.

What are the Health Benefits of Teff

The nutritional information in regards to teff is impressive. Because the grain is naturally very small, it doesn’t have the husk removed when it’s being ground – this ensures it retains most of its nutrients.

Teff flour, therefore, contains healthy doses of B vitamins, calcium, vitamin C and iron. It’s also high in protein and have five times the amount of fibre as in white flour.

the gluten free grain teff growing in a field. It looks like a long, green grass

Teff is also high in resistant starch a specific type of fibre which is linked to more balanced blood sugar, a healthy microbiome – and potentially weight loss. Although, one thing to watch out for with resistant starch is that it can cause bloating (if you want to know more about RS, and this reaction, it’s all explained here)

But its main selling point is that it’s gluten-free. This makes it suitable for coeliacs, or people who are avoiding gluten for any other reason.

What Does Teff Taste Like?

Like many ancient grains (spelt for example) it’s described as having a nutty taste, but I wanted to try it for myself.

As I said, you can use teff in a number of different ways – you can even get teff milk, but I opted to try it via the medium of bread – specifically the bread by company Tobias Teff.

I admit when it arrived I was concerned – unlike the fluffy flatbread teff is known for creating traditionally, this was a huge thick heavy loaf and it felt like a brick.

I’d opted for the ‘plain brown’ loaf – but it was extremely dark – kind of like rye bread, although my immediate thought when cutting it was ‘Soreen Malt Loaf‘ – this immediately gave me a more favourable impression (they do a raisin one which I can imagine is delicious).

Still life of a range of teff products including bread and flour

It also shattered another past impression.

As I said, Teff is gluten-free and, my past experiences with gluten-free breads have been dry and crumbly. This is none of those things.

It’s rich in flavour, moist in texture, very, very substantial.

I was cutting very thin slices to have for breakfast and they were filling me up until lunch.

I can’t say a bad word about it in terms of taste. It’s a revolution in breadi-ness.

Are There Any Downsides to Teff

The only thing I did find was that my super loaf didn’t keep very long.

It’s very, very big and I was cutting thin slices and after about 4 days it had just started to form mould which meant I had to throw a fair bit away – and I hate throwing away food.

If you do buy it, keep it in the fridge which prolongs its shelf life (I couldn’t, there wasn’t room) or, maybe cut half into slices the day it arrives and freeze them until you need them. Apparently, it freezes okay.

Teff flour should be kept in a cool dark place.

Would I Recommend It?

If you’re trying to eliminate gluten for whatever reason and haven’t tried this yet, I say do it.

I’d happily swap my normal bread for it any day.

Where to Buy Teff

You’ll find teff flour in most health food stores – or, order it online.

Amazon sell a variety of teff flour products including Bobs Red Mill Gluten Free Teff Flour

Or, have a look at Planet Organic where you’ll find teff flour, teff cereal and teff porridge for delivery

If you have a supermarket that specialises in African ingredients near you, then you might also want to look in there where there’s a good chance the flour will be cheaper.

The teff bread that I tried here and loved was made by British company Tobia Teff.  They were the first people to bring teff to the UK.

You can order it online, but because it does perish quite quickly, and it’s heavy, there’s quite a big delivery charge.

Getting Teff on Prescription

If you’re eliminating gluten for proper medical reasons – ie you have Coeliac Disease and live in the UK, the Tobia Teff Bread Mix is available as part of the prescription food scheme.

This sees doctor’s prescribing gluten-free foods to people who need them. Only certain types, or forms, or gluten-free foods are eligible and exactly what’s available can vary by country and NHS Trust region so you will need to speak to your GP.

Other teff products, or items from other teff brands, are currently not available on prescription. Things do change though so, check the link above for the latest information on the scheme and the exact products it covers.

Who is The Wellness Nerd?

My name is Helen Foster and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.

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