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April 20, 2017
Say auf wiedersehen to wheatgrass and goodbye to goji berries… there’s a new super-food on the scene that’s ready to rock your kitchens! Teff has been a staple of Ethiopian cooking for centuries and has now landed on Profood’s shelves in the form of Nativa’s delicious pastas, grissini and biscuits – so we thought it was high time to learn more about this almighty grain.
It might sound more like a boring government organisation or piece of Ikea furniture, but teff is actually a gluten-free wholegrain that has been around for thousands of years. Grown mostly in Ethiopia and Eritrea, it grows extremely quickly compared to other grains, can thrive in difficult climates and requires comparatively fewer seeds to yield a bigger harvest (453g of teff grows an acre of grain versus the 45kg of wheat needed to produce the same amount) – all of which has made it such a resilient and economical staple in the local cuisine.
The grain is super fine (around the size of poppy seeds) and has a mild nutty flavour, but what’s really getting people’s attention are teff’s incredible health benefits – for such a tiny grain, it packs a massive nutritious punch! It’s high in protein, rich in calcium, iron and dietary fibre, and boasts an impressive combination of essential amino acids. It’s naturally gluten-free, making it a great alternative for coeliacs or people with gluten intolerances; it also has a low glycaemic index, meaning it releases sugar more slowly into the blood stream, making it a fantastic option for diabetics. In fact, it’s so good that long distance running legend Haile Gebrselassie even claimed that teff was the secret behind the success of Ethiopian runners!
Another factor behind teff’s super status is just how versatile it is. It can be eaten whole, steamed, boiled or baked, or ground into flour to make a great gluten-free alternative used for bread, pasta, pastry and other baked goods. In Ethiopia and Eritrea, it is traditionally ground into flour to make injera, a spongy fermented flatbread that’s a staple of their local cuisine.
Cook it with water to make a teff porridge, use it as a substitute for rice or polenta, scatter it in salad or veggie dishes for a crunchy hit of protein, add it to stews or curries to help soak up all those rich flavours, make it into cereal bars for on-the-go healthy snacks… its uses really are endless!
At Profood, we’re always fans of cooking that is quick, easy and most importantly, delicious – which is why our teff comes to you from the gourmet geniuses at Nativa Food. This Italian brand is dedicated to making gluten-free food that is both nutritious and tasty; they use only the best teff, imported from Ethiopia, and all their recipes are created in collaboration with chef Marco Scaglione, an expert in gluten-free cooking. This definitely isn’t food created only for coeliacs though… it’s simply delicious whoever’s eating!
Trying teff couldn’t be easier thanks to Nativa Food’s goodies. Their teff pasta is a no-brainer – simply add a sauce of your choice for a simple, nutritious, flavoursome meal – and unlike many gluten-free pastas, it keeps a great al dente texture too. For some uniquely Italian delights, try their scrumptious speciality canestrelli or krumini biscuits; for savoury snacking, give their grissini a nibble (we reckon it’s the first gluten-free grissini in Hong Kong). And if you’ve got a sweet tooth that needs sating, may we interest you in their chocolate chip cookies and hazelnut cream or apricot jam tarts… or all three?
So now you know what it is and how to eat it, it’s time to show some teff love!
Rachel Read is a freelance writer, editor and blogger with over a decade’s worth of media experience under her belt. In addition to co-founding writing & editing agency Editors’ Ink and writing her own lifestyle and beauty blog Through The Looking Glass, Rachel is a food lover whose job frequently involves checking out the latest restaurant openings in Hong Kong – yum! Follow her on Instagram for #foodporn aplenty.
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