By MARTHA CLIFF
2 February 2014
From kale chips to wheatgrass shots, the list of celebrity food crazes is a long one. Now there’s a new source of sustenance to add to the list – an Ethiopian cereal named teff.
Loved by Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham, the grain, which is a staple food in its home country Ethiopia, is packed with protein, calcium and iron.
It does, however, come with a Hollywood style price tag – retailing at an eye-watering £7 for a 400g bag of flour.
Superfood: Teff, an Ethiopian staple, is set to be 2014’s coolest cupboard essential according to foodies
Dubbed the ‘new quinoa’, teff, which was used to feed animals until recently, has also found favour with foodies who point to its nutty flavour and wide range of uses.
But although it has made inroads with the A-list, the rest of us don’t appear quite so keen to follow suit with Planet Organic’s Toby Watts saying people still aren’t fully aware of the health benefits.
‘It has been a slow start,’ he admits. ‘We are often the first to offer new products so there is always a strong need to educate customers and this takes time, much the same as when we first listed quinoa and people pronounced it qui-no-a, but our customers are quick to catch on.’
He added: ‘The market for gluten-free has soared in the past couple of years, but many retailers have turned to white rice and corn as a wheat substitute.
‘What our customers are seeking are gluten-free wholegrain alternatives which offer much higher nutritional benefits and teff, like quinoa, fits the criteria.’
A-list fans: Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham are both fans of the Ethiopian staple
Traditional: Teff is used to make injera, a flat bread used like medieval trenchers as both plate and side dish
But it seems that British shoppers aren’t the only ones who need a lesson in the nutritional benefits of Teff.
Sophie Kebede owner of Tobia Teff, has been eating the super food her whole life but admits she had no idea it had so much to recommend it, telling the Guardian that she was ‘flabbergasted’ when she discovered its nutritional value.
‘I didn’t know it was so sought after,’ she revealed. ‘I am of Ethiopian origin; I’ve been eating injera [traditional Ethiopian bread made from Teff] all my life.’
Despite its nutritional advantage over contenders such as millet, spelt and quinoa, teff does have one downside – a higher calorie count. With 286 calories per cup, teff is positively fattening compared bulgar wheat’s meagre 152 calories and quinoa’s 222.
That, however, is no reason to forgo tucking into teff, according to Kebede, who argues that its nutritional value more than makes up for the extra calories.
‘I’m a big advocate of trying it in more traditional Western dishes so everyone can enjoy the associated health improvements,’ she explains.
‘The teff cereals can be enjoyed on their own, or mixed into a regular muesli for a nutritious start to the day, for example; and our breads run from plain to onion seed, sunflower seed or raisin bread, so there are options for toast and sandwiches as well as afternoon tea.’
TEFF TRANSLATED: 2014’S NEWEST SUPERFOOD EXPLAINED
WHAT IS IT?
Teff is classified as a variety of millet. It has small, round grains.
WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU:
It is unlikely to cause allergies and is easy to digest. Rich in silica, a mineral with beneficial effect on bones, skin and connective tissues.
WHAT TO DO WITH IT:
Boil and use in the same savoury ways as rice. Can also be used to make a ‘rice’ pudding if you boil with milk and add fruit and brown sugar.
PER CUP: 286 calories, 56.8g carbohydrate, 8.4g protein.
Source: Planet Organic
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