T is for Teff

Teff is teeny tiny. Just the size of the period at the end of this sentence. It is dark brown and can be used as a whole seed, or ground into flour.

Teff is a staple in Africa where the flour is used to make Injera, the sour dough bread of Ethiopia. Injera is really like a giant pancake. Meals are served on platters layered with the thin spongy bread, topped with many mixed dishes. Diners tear off bits of Injera by hand, fill them with food, then tuck into their mouth. No utensils needed.

Be sure to try Injera when it is offered in a restaurant, if you can make sure it is gluten free. In the states, it may be made with a combo of teff and wheat flour. So you must ask and be comfortable with the answer.

I love the tang of Injera and have tried making it at home. But I have trouble with sour dough starters. There may be truth to the adage the some areas just have better (sour dough) culture than others.


Teff provides thiamin, niacin, B6 and folate, iron, some calcium, and fiber. Nutrients often missing in the usual gluten free diet.

What can I do with the whole seed?

Using whole seed, you can make breakfast porridge. I have successfully used the stovetop, my pressure cooker, and a crock-pot for this.

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teff-porridge-with-hazelnuts-and-raspberries photo by vsimon

Crock-pot Teff Porridge

serves 3-4                    metric measures

1/2 cup teff seeds         90 grams

1 1/2 cup water           360 ml

Put seeds and water into a 4 cup crock pot. Cook for 3 hours. Stir porridge and add another cup of water (240 ml) if you prefer it thinner.

Cooked teff firms up a lot when it cools. Your leftovers will solidify. Simply break it up, stir, and press with the back of a spoon to remove the little lumps. You will end up with the lovely results pictured.

You could easily double this recipe, and it might take longer to cook. Crock-pots come in many sizes and some have high and low settings. Be sure to do a test run in your crock-pot during the day, before leaving it alone overnight. If it works, you can have a hearty breakfast waiting for you when you stumble out of bed.

You can also make teff polenta, a different color polenta. Serve right away for soft polenta. Or spread into a shallow pan and allow to firm. Then slice and grill for a crispy crust. Corn polenta is still my favorite though.

What can I do with the flour?

There are more ways to use teff flour than the whole seeds. Sometimes, I like to play off the dark color and pair teff with bright or light colored ingredients. Picture peach crunch with teff and sliced almond topping. Tempting, yes?

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teff-peach-crunch photo by vsimon

But teff is also perfect for naturally dark treats like gingerbread or mock rye bread.

And I think teff and cocoa also make a great combo, say in a waffle. Or a peanut butter filled chocolate muffin. What is not better with chocolate, right?

See some recipes you may like using  just teff flour, no combos of flours.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Date Nut Coffee Quick Bread

How do you use teff seeds or flour? What recipes would you like?

A little rant

I love experimenting with unusual ingredients. And using whole grains. I do not love having to mail order ingredients, even though I know this is a great service for getting gluten free ingredients. The local grocery store used to carry teff flour. But they have expanded the gluten free aisle and added the new Betty Crocker mixes.

My fears are being realized. More room for mainstream gluten free mixes (read refined starches, poor nutrition). Less room for healthy whole grains.

Recipe development using healthy ingredients is what I do. And, teaching others how to cook this way. You can make tempting treats with whole grain flours. Please ask your grocer to carry wholegrain gluten free flours, not just mixes. Vote with your purchases. The store will carry what sells.

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teff-seeds photo by vsimon

Growing teff

We planted several gluten free grains in our garden, including teff. It is growing slowly, and looks like slender arching blades of grass. Now the leaves are two to three feet long. It is too soon to tell if we will get seeds. We will keep you posted this fall.

Click here for an update our garden teff.

M is for Millet- Muffins Two Ways

It looks like birdseed, heck, it is birdseed. Other than being gluten free, what is so great about millet? It makes great crunchy muffins for one thing. Today we do two, one with buttermilk, one vegan.

I started with a wheat flour and whole grain millet recipe from Cooking Light. Imagine millet in a mainstream magazine like Cooking Light. They were delicious, so I had to experiment. Both versions of these whole grain gluten free muffins are equally tasty.

You can substitute only millet flour for the wheat flour. Or use a gluten free flour blend. The straight up millet flour version has more whole grain flavor. The blend is milder. Do not omit the millet seeds though. They give the muffins the fun crunch.

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buttermilk-millet-muffins photo by vsimon

Buttermilk Millet Muffins Yield 12                                                             Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1/3 cup oil

¾ cup dark brown sugar

1 ½ cup millet flour or gluten free flour blend

2/3 cup millet seeds

2 tablespoons ground flax seed meal

1 ½ teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a small boil, whisk the wet ingredients well. That is the buttermilk, egg, oil and dark brown sugar. Sugar, any sugar, is considered a wet ingredient in baking. Weird, I know. Brown sugar does mix better with the wet ingredients than the dry ones.

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine all the dry ingredients. That is everything else.

Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour in the wet ingredients and stir until completely mixed.

Mixing ingredients like this, wet into dry, is called the muffin method. I learned that in 7th grade Home Economics.

Allow the batter to sit for 5 minutes. The xanthan gum and the ground flax seed will hydrate, or soak up some liquid. The batter will get thicker and the muffins will rise better. That is newer knowledge, I did not learn that in 7th grade Home Ec.

Put 12 muffin papers in muffin pans. Fill the papers about ¾ full. Sprinkle tops with raw sugar crystals if desired. They are big and sparkly, a nice touch. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.


millet-seed-heads photo by Shi_Yali

Did you say you wanted those muffins dairy free, egg free, vegan? Can do.    I have recently discovered Amazake, a fermented rice beverage. During fermentation, the starch of the rice is broken down into sugar, naturally sweetening the drink. These muffins are a bit sweeter than the buttermilk version. Personally, I could reduce the sugar here to 2/3 cup. But my husband likes them with the ¾ cup amount.

Amazake is as thick as buttermilk. It might be a bit hard to find, and it is more pricy than buttermilk. Still, it is a great ingredient.

To replace the egg, I increased the ground flax seed meal. This adds structure just like xanthan. The first trial of these muffins, I left the xanthan in. Wow, that batter could stand alone. I cooked it anyway. The muffins were certainly edible, but they sure did not need the xanthan.

The second batch is xanthan free. Worked like a charm. And since there is no buttermilk, there is no need for baking soda either.

Also, I think this is funny, our cats LOVE these vegan muffins. One is very big and will eat any dairy, or anything with dairy, that she can get at. The other is very small and it seems she rarely eats anything. To our surprise, both cats want these muffins. They want more than just crumbs. These are just simply good, as good as the dairy version.

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dairy-free-egg-free-soy-free-millet-muffin  photo by vsimon

Dairy Free, Egg Free Millet Muffins  yield 12                                            Preheat oven to 425 degrees

1 cup amazake

¾ cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup oil

1 ½ cup millet flour or gluten free blend

2/3 cup millet seeds

½ cup ground flax seed meal

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, mix amazake, dark brown sugar, and oil.

In a large bowl, mix everything else. Let this batter sit for 5 minutes too, it will thicken. Fill muffin papers ¾ full. Top with raw sugar if you like. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Oh, and did I mention, nutritionally, millet is rich in the B vitamins, niacin, B6 and folic acid. And it is a good source of fiber.

Please let us know how you use millet. Or if you are familiar with Amazake.

10-21-09 This post is submitted to the GF Lifestyle Blog Carnival for November, host by Sustaining Health Holistically, a gluten free, vegan, raw blog.