What Is Teff and How Do You Use This Ancient Grain?
Whether you're living the gluten free life or just want to experiment with cool new ingredients, teff should be high on your list.
Sometimes written as tef or t'ef, this grain (actually a pseudo-grain, since it's technically a seed) is the smallest whole grain in the world. Teff has a beautiful dark brown color, a great earthy flavor similar to amaranth or quinoa and can be used in many of the same ways in the kitchen.
Teff is known as an ancient grain, one that has survived through the centuries without much hybridization or processing. Most ancient grains maintain a high nutritional profile, especially if you compare it to common bleached wheat flour that makes up the basis of our standard American diet. Even if you don't want to give up wheat, experimenting with ancient grains is delicious and healthful, giving the body a chance to experience a whole grain and get the benefits from a new range of vitamins and minerals. Most ancient grains are gluten-free too, which is why they are gaining in popularity across the foodie world.
Teff is traditionally cultivated in Ethiopia and Eritrea, where it is consumed as a staple grain. It is becoming more popular around the world, as the high productivity and resiliency of the plant become more known.
Like most other ancient grains, teff is super nutritious. Most famous for the high fiber and calcium content, it's also a good source of iron. Just one quarter cup of dry (uncooked) teff has 4 grams of fiber—about 16 percent of your daily value; the calcium content comes in at about 10 percent and iron at about 20 percent. Teff is also high in what's known as “resistant starch." As the Whole Grain Council explains, resistant starch is, “a newly-discovered type of dietary fiber that can benefit blood-sugar management, weight control and colon health. It's estimated that 20-40 percent of the carbohydrates in teff are resistant starches."
Teff can range in color from ivory to brown, though the brown is much more common. Teff flour can also be made from either ivory or brown teff, though brown seems to be more common. Teff flour has a beautiful light brown color and mild, grassy flavor that lends itself well to rich spices and quickbreads like banana and pumpkin. Find teff in the bulk section if you're lucky or find it online. Bob's Red Mill makes bags of teff and teff flour as part of their "Grains of Discovery" series. Unlike most other grains, it's very hard to find organic teff.
Even if you're never heard of teff before, you have probably eaten it if you have ever tried Ethiopian food. Teff flour is fermented and used to make injera, the spongy flatbread upon which lentils, cabbage and other foods are served.
Teff Porridge Bowl with Polenta and Bitter Greens. Photo credit: Care2
This new recipe for a teff and polenta porridge is a great way to add this new grain into your life alongside a familiar staple like polenta. Choose your favorite bitter greens like dandelion, mustards or just some kale to balance out the sweetness of the raisins.
Teff Bowl With Bitter Greens
2 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
1/2 cup polenta (coarse-ground cornmeal)
1/2 cup teff (whole)
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
5 cups chopped bitter greens
1/4 cup raisins or finely chopped dried apricots
1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
1. Bring water/broth to a boil. Add polenta, teff, salt and one Tablespoon of oil. Stir to combine, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Add more liquid if mixture seems clumpy or thick; it should be smooth and creamy and a bit soupy—it will firm up as it cools.
2. In a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil until warm. Add garlic and cook until browned, about three minutes. Add in greens and toss just until wilted, about one to two minutes. Remove from heat and toss in raisins, then drizzle with soy sauce. Toss to coat evenly.
3. When grains have finished cooking, divide into two or four serving bowls. Top with greens and serve while warm.
Here are a few other recipes to try out with this fun and funky grain:
Ginger Molasses Cookies, recipe below. Photo credit: Care2
5. Injera, the Ethiopian flatbread
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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