About the size of a poppy seed, teff is a tiny but mighty grain. Ethiopians have devoured it for millennia, and even today it accounts for about two-thirds of protein intake and 15 percent of all calories consumed in that country. The success of teff-fueled Ethiopian endurance runners—along with a surging interest in ancient and gluten-free grains—has launched teff onto the radar of many health-conscious Americans.

See also Is Gluten-Free Eating Right for You? 

And for good reason. Teff contains more calcium than any other grain (up to 10 percent of your daily needs in 1 cup of cooked teff, 35 percent in raw). A quarter cup of dry teff serves up 7 grams of protein, about 20 percent of your RDA of iron,  hefty doses of other minerals—most notably manganese and magnesium—and is a good source of thiamin and other B vitamins. Plus, its ample amounts of fiber are a resistant starch, which means they affect blood sugar levels positively.

As with most ancient grains, you’ll want to play with teff in the kitchen to find how you like it best. Whole-grain teff can be cooked and served as a hot porridge (try it with almond slivers and honey), or mixed into soups and stews as a thickener. Teff flour is a bit heavy for use in traditional breads, but it’s tasty in pancakes, waffles, cookies, brownies, muffins and other nonrising baked goods, lending them a rich, nutty flavor that many a first-time teff eater has quickly come to love.

Try Teff 

Pick up a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Teff Flour for use in pancakes, muffins, pie crusts and other baked goods. For recipe ideas, visit teffco.com/recipes. Also, while shopping, keep your eye out for wraps, cereals, baking mixes, snack bars and other products that contain teff. 

Banana Nut Waffles

Makes 5 medium-sized waffles

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups almond flour
  • 1 cup teff flour
  • 1½ cups almond milk
  • 2 small bananas (about 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup crushed walnuts

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients except walnuts in a high-speed blender; mix thoroughly.
  2. Stir in walnuts.
  3. Heat waffle iron; spoon on enough batter to cover three-quarters of the surface.
  4. Close lid; bake until waffle is golden-brown and edges are crisp. Waffles will be fragile, so use a fork and spatula to lift them.