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Avoid the super-food fads but check out Teff

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It's annoying when foolish food writers tell you to abandon kale and quinoa and just eat Teff (an ancient grain), because it's "the new super food," as though people ate one thing at a time. I know there was a fad a few years ago when some people ate almost nothing but soy in various forms, but ipso facto, a fad never produces any important results. Every now and then someone obtains their fifteen minutes of fame by saying they only eat one thing, but it never works for very long.

You develop protein starvation by eating only meat (sorry, Paleo fans) and you can create allergies where they were not present before by overindulging in things like wheat and dairy products. That is a characteristic of the human body, which seems to be trying to tell us to eat a wide variety of foods in moderation.

But the new interest in teff has a sound foundation. It has been cultivated for at least seven thousand years, right back into prehistory when it was probably discovered growing wild. Early humans observed what the non-predatory animals were eating and tried them. If you read the series of books that begins with Clan of the Cave Bear, you can read a detailed and well-researched account of how prehistoric people ate.

Nowadays you can get teff in Tucson at any market that sells a wide selection of grains. It is marketed by Bob's Red Mill (not a surprise) and other companies as well. You can get it whole or ground into flour, and if you have a Nutri Bullet or a Vita Mix machine, you can buy the whole grain (they are very small) and grind your own flour from them. You can do this with any other grain as well with the right equipment.

The recipe I am including today calls for whole teff and uses other flours to produce muffins. I chose muffins to introduce you to teff because some people need a strong boost to get them going, especially if they are trying to avoid the expensive stops at coffee bistros on the way to work (or if they are on a school bus that doesn't make stops). Lots of children bring their breakfast to school as well as lunch. So if you are looking for something to keep you alert, I think this recipe will work. It is truly a nutritional powerhouse.

There would be nothing wrong with including fruits or nuts in the recipe; use anything you like. One of my favorite combinations is blueberries and walnuts; you can get exquisite dried blueberries in health-oriented stores like Sprouts and Whole Foods. I also like dried cherries and pecans a lot.

WHOLE GRAIN TEFF MUFFINS

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp ground organic cinnamon
1/4 cup boiling water
2 cups organic whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup organic oat bran
1/4 cup organic wheat germ
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup honey
2 Tablespoons unsalted organic butter at room temperature
1 cup organic buttermilk
1 large organic egg at room temperature
1 Tablespoon organic orange zest
1/2 cup whole-grain teff

Preheat oven to 375°F. Oil a muffin tin or line each cup with a paper baking cup.

In a medium mixing bowl, pour the boiling water over the teff. Stir to moisten. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

In another mixing bowl, mix the whole-wheat pastry flour, oat bran, wheat germ, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

When the teff mixture is cool, stir in the honey, softened butter, buttermilk or yogurt, egg and grated orange rind. Add the teff mixture to the dry ingredients, mix with a few strokes, spoon into prepared muffin tins and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing the muffins from tins.

These days I use paper baking cups that are made of parchment paper; I promise you they do not stick to muffins and release them in their pristine condition right out of the oven.

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