Is Teff The New Superfood?

06/25/2014 07:00 am ET
Flickr: Shauna James Ahern

Health food junkies, we've got your newest fix. Give the quinoa a break, let kale take a rest, and give teff a chance. If you're a regular at the health food store, you've definitely seen teff around -- if not in its tiny grain form than at least ground as a flour. If you were brave enough to venture into the unknown, you gave it a try. And if you knew what you were doing with this super grain, you quickly discovered your newest favorite health food.

Teff is a tiny grain that is the national pride of Ethiopia. While it's been consumed there for thousands of years -- we're talking way back BC -- it's starting to get some global attention, and this is good news for all of us. Teff is a durable crop that can grow in almost any climate, and that same flexible characteristic holds true in the kitchen, too. As a bonus, teff boasts a ton of good-for-you nutrition. It's one of those win-win foods. Now, we don't want you to drop all of your other favorite health foods and just eat teff until the next big superfood comes along, but we do think it's worth a try. Here's why:

  • 1 Teff is responsible for the great Ethiopian bread injera.
    © Santiago Urquijo via Getty Images
  • Injera is a national dish in Ethiopia. It's a spongy flatbread that's served with stews and salads. And, it's the best. If you haven't tried it, run out to your nearest Ethiopian restaurant and remedy that now. Or, make some at home.
  • 2 Teff has a subtle, nutty flavor.
    Flickr: der.gugelhupf
  • It lends itself to both savory and sweet dishes. So, dig in guys.
  • 3 Teff is an awesome gluten-free alternative.
    Flickr: Nicholas Chim
  • Teff is traditionally used in Ethiopia as flour (to make the injera bread we just talked about) and so it naturally makes a great wheat flour alternative for those who follow a gluten-free lifestyle. Breads, cookies, pancakes, you name it, teff can do it.
  • 4 Teff has uses way beyond flour.
    Flickr: Shauna James Ahern
  • It can be used as a porridge -- treated like polenta -- or it can be used to thicken soups and stews (all with a nutritional punch).
  • 5 Teff is pretty great for you.
    Flickr: Shauna James Ahern
  • Teff actually has 50 percent more protein, five times the fiber, and 25 times more calcium than brown rice. And that's just the half of it, guys.
  • 6 Teff is mainly grown in Ethiopia.
    Mike Copeland via Getty Images
  • Teff is grown by over six million farming households in Ethiopia. It was one of the first domesticated crops, back in roughly 5,000 BC. Since it's such a dependable crop, other countries, like Australia and the U.S., have begun growing it too.
  • 7 Teff is really, really tiny.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • We mean REALLY tiny. It measures 1/32 of an inch in diameter and it takes 3,000 grains of teff to make up one gram. This stuff is small.
  • 8 Teff is special because it promises a high yield and only requires a little bit of land.
    AFP via Getty Images
  • Only a handful of seeds are needed to sow an entire field, which makes it good for the planet (and good for us). It's able to grow in difficult climates, such as Ethiopia's arid lands, but it can manage waterlogged regions too.
  • 9 Teff is poised to be the next superfood.
    Flickr: USC Canada
  • Quinoa's day may be coming to an end.

Want to read more from HuffPost Taste? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr.

Related on HuffPost:

Kale Recipes

CONVERSATIONS