Fork You

Eat This! Teff

Fork YouQuinoa, this; quinoa, that. It’s as if quinoa is the *only* whole grain out there! We love quinoa, don’t get us wrong, but there are so many other options, gluten-free or not, to increase the whole grain variety in your diet. We’ve done a post on amaranth (Amazing Amaranth?), a tiny grain consumed by the Aztecs… now it is time for another favourite that is even less well known – TEFF.

Despite being one of the world’s smallest grains, teff packs a lot of nutrition into a tiny (and tasty!) package proving that size doesn’t matter when it comes to whole grains!

Teff, or Eragrostis tef, is a tall grass native to Ethiopia that produces a teeny, tiny grain that has not quite hit the mainstream in North America. If you have ever had Ethiopian food, you have had teff because injera – a spongy, sourdough-tasting flatbread served with Ethiopian food – is made from teff flour. Teff is available in light and dark varieties, just as quinoa is, but red-brown teff is the most common variety you will find in North America. It has a mild nutty taste – some say chesnut, others hazelnut – which makes it perfect for savoury or sweet dishes.

Teff packageGrowing in popularity, you can look for whole teff and teff flour in health food stores, natural food markets, and some well-stocked grocery stores – but you won’t usually find it in the bulk section because it is too small! Bob’s Red Mill brand (pictured left) is a popular brand available in Canada and the US.

In terms of nutrition, teff packs a bunch! Rich in high-quality protein, fibre and resistant starches, teff is slowly digested and fantastic for satiety. It also has the highest per gram content of both iron and calcium – 2.7 mg iron and 65 mg calcium per 1/2 cup serving – beating out amaranth for the top micronutrient-containing grain.

Teff is unfamiliar territory for most, but it cooks quickly and lends itself to many different preparations. Here are some of our favourite ways to prepare teff at home:

  • hot cereal: nutty and sweet, teff matches well with oatmeal-fixin’s like in this Teff Porridge recipe
  • injera: this is definitely a time investment, but injera is delicious and worth it!
  • gluten-free baked goods: the mild flavour of teff makes it a great GF substitute in baking (though we wouldn’t try a teff soufflé!). We often make our Pina Colada Loaf with teff flour.
  • polenta: by using a 4:1 ratio of liquid to teff, you can get a thinner polenta consistency – just add butter and parmesan cheese for an amazing side dish, or try this teff polenta recipe with Swiss chard

Made too much teff? This is a great way to use leftovers – nix the rice in stuffed peppers and go with teff instead!

Teff and Black Bean-Stuffed Peppers

  • 1.5 cups uncooked teff
  • 3 cups low-sodium veggie or chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 6 bell peppers
  • 2 – 540 ml (19 fl oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • juice and zest of one lime
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 4 roma tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
  • ½ cup grated old cheddar (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; sauté minced garlic until softened, about 1 minute. Add teff; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add water to saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, uncovered for 20 minutes.
  3. Cut tops off of peppers. Remove and discard seeds and membranes, being careful not to puncture bottom. Arrange peppers in a baking dish with the top side facing upward. (Thinly slice rounds off of the bottoms if necessary so that they will stand upright.)
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cooked teff and remaining ingredients except cheese, and gently mix; season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon an equal amount of the mixture into each hollowed pepper. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired.
  5. Bake 30 – 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until the peppers are tender and filling is heated through.

One thought on “Eat This! Teff

  1. Hey Dr. Parnell! We here at AddisEats loved your blog piece about Teff as a super grain. Just stumbled upon it today!

    If you are ever in Addis, we’d love to take you for a free food tour and hear more about your work (and more importantly, help you get a taste of Addis!! filled with lots of teff!).

    Great blog, and we’ll keep following it!

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