Oh, ancient grains, how I love experimenting with thee.
If you’re new to this small but mighty grain that hails all the way from East Africa, then this is the perfect introductory recipe for you.
Though teff has been a staple grain in countries like Ethiopia for thousands of years, it’s now enjoying a rise in popularity here in the Western world. As more of us are looking to reduce or eliminate gluten, wheat or other white, refined grains – ancient whole grains like teff, millet, quinoa (really a seed) and amaranth become star players in our pantries.
We also want more nutritional bang for our buck, which is why teff is so great. In fact, teff is also one of the most nutritionally impressive grains out there. It’s high in calcium, iron and protein and also loaded with B vitamins. It’s also high in resistant starch, which means it’s helps balance blood sugar and improves colon health…all good stuff for managing weight.
It’s got a mild, nutty flavour, kinda like quinoa. And, much like quinoa, you can prepare it by, simply, boiling it in water for 15-20 minutes. It has a porridge-like consistency (like cream-of-wheat or polenta) so you can use it in place of oatmeal …but it also goes well in soups and stews and in baked goods.
For now, let’s start out with a creamy breakfast teff porridge:
- ½ cup teff grains
- 1 ½ cup filtered water
- 3 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 apple, cored and cubed
- Handful of your fave nuts (i.e. walnuts, pecan, almonds)
- ¼ cup nut milk or coconut milk
- Drizzle of raw honey or pure maple syrup to taste
- In a small saucepan on med heat, add teff grains and toast (stirring occasionally) for about 5 minutes until you can hear some of them start to pop. (Toasting brings out their nutty flavour.)
- Let pan cool slightly before adding water to toasted teff grains (otherwise the water might boil and splash up). Add dates, cinnamon too and stir well to combine.
- Bring to a gentle boil, then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until teff is softened and thickened into a porridge consistency. (If porridge is too thick, you can add more liquid and give it a quick stir at the end.)
- Serve immediately into bowls, top with nut milk, fruit and nuts, drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Like any bowl of porridge or oatmeal, once you get the cooking method and your preferred consistency down, you can get really creative with toppings. I kept it simple here with apples and nuts, but you can add berries, coconut, seeds, cacao, nut butters. And, just like polenta, you can jazz it up with savoury ingredients too like herbs and spices, onions, garlic, green veggies, mushrooms etc.