Are you following a paleo diet and wondering if teff flour is allowed? The answer may surprise you.
While some sources claim that teff flour is not paleo due to its classification as a pseudo-cereal, others argue that it is one of the better grains out there.
So, what’s the verdict?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at teff flour and its place in the paleo diet. From its nutritional value to its traditional uses in Ethiopian cuisine, we’ll explore all the facts and help you make an informed decision about whether or not to include teff flour in your paleo lifestyle.
Let’s dive in!
Is Teff Flour Paleo?
The paleo diet is based on the idea of eating like our ancestors did, focusing on whole, unprocessed foods and avoiding grains and processed foods. So, where does teff flour fit in?
Teff flour is a type of flour made from the seeds of the teff plant, which is native to Ethiopia. It is commonly used in traditional Ethiopian cuisine to make injera, a type of flatbread that is used to pick up food.
While some sources claim that teff flour is not paleo due to its classification as a pseudo-cereal, others argue that it is one of the better grains out there. Teff flour is naturally gluten-free and high in nutrients like vitamin C, making it a healthier option than many other grains.
However, it’s important to note that the paleo diet is not just about avoiding grains. It’s also about eating whole, unprocessed foods and avoiding processed foods and added sugars. So, while teff flour may be a better option than other grains, it should still be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced paleo diet.
What Is Teff Flour?
Teff flour is a type of flour made from the tiny seeds of the teff plant. This ancient grain is believed to have been domesticated around 4000 and 1000 BCE in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Teff is the smallest grain in the world and comes in a variety of colors, including red, ivory, and dark brown.
Teff flour is commonly used in Ethiopian cuisine to make injera, a fermented flatbread that is a staple in their diet. It has a mild, earthy flavor and is somewhat pricey compared to other flours, but its health properties make it well worth the investment. Teff flour is naturally gluten-free and an excellent source of fiber, iron, amino acids, vitamin C, and calcium.
Teff flour can be used in a variety of baked goods, including quick breads, muffins, pancakes, and cookies. It works particularly well in combination with other gluten-free flours like buckwheat flour and almond flour. When cooking with teff flour, it’s best to use a recipe that calls for it. If you’re using teff as a gluten-free alternative, you can substitute teff flour for about 25% of the white flour called for in most recipes.
In addition to baking, teff can also be simmered like any other whole grain. The teff-to-liquid ratio can be varied depending on how you want to use it. A 1:1 ratio of teff to liquid keeps the seeds intact and al dente, perfect for use as a sprinkle on top of oatmeal or soup. For a creamier dish like breakfast porridge, increase the amount of liquid to 1:4. To use teff as the base for a pilaf or stuffing or to incorporate it into a casserole or other dish that will continue cooking, use 1 3/4 to 2 cups of water or stock for each cup of dry teff.
Nutritional Value Of Teff Flour
Teff flour is highly nutritious, providing a wide range of essential nutrients. Just 100 grams of teff flour contains 366 calories, 12.2 grams of protein, 3.7 grams of fat, 70.7 grams of carbohydrates, and 12.2 grams of fiber. Additionally, teff flour is a rich source of important minerals like iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, and selenium.
Compared to other grains, teff flour is particularly high in lysine, an essential amino acid that supports various bodily functions like protein production, hormone and enzyme synthesis, collagen and elastin formation, energy production, and immune function.
However, some of the nutrients in teff flour may be poorly absorbed due to the presence of antinutrients like phytic acid. To reduce the effects of these compounds and enhance nutrient absorption, lacto-fermentation is recommended.
In terms of its paleo-friendliness, teff flour may not be suitable for strict followers of the paleo diet since grains and pseudo-cereals are not allowed on the diet in any form. However, some argue that teff flour is a healthier option than many other grains and can be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced paleo diet.
Teff Flour In Ethiopian Cuisine
In Ethiopian cuisine, teff flour is a staple ingredient used to make injera, a type of flatbread that is used as a utensil to pick up food. Injera is traditionally made by fermenting the teff flour for several days before cooking it on a hot griddle. This fermentation process not only adds flavor but also helps to break down some of the anti-nutrients present in the teff flour, making it easier to digest.
Teff flour is also used to make other types of bread and baked goods in Ethiopian cuisine. However, it’s important to note that many restaurants and home cooks may use wheat flour instead of teff flour due to its higher cost.
While injera made from teff flour may not be considered strictly paleo, it can still be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced paleo diet. It’s important to pay attention to portion sizes and to choose whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible.
Why Some Consider Teff Flour Non-Paleo
Despite its nutritional benefits, some consider teff flour non-paleo due to its classification as a grain. The paleo diet excludes grains and pseudo-cereals, like teff, as they can be difficult to digest and may cause inflammation in some individuals.
While teff flour is gluten-free, it still contains other components that may not be suitable for those following a paleo diet. For example, teff flour contains phytates, which can interfere with the absorption of certain minerals in the body. Additionally, teff flour is high in carbohydrates, which may not be ideal for those trying to limit their carb intake.
Ultimately, whether or not teff flour is considered paleo depends on individual interpretation and dietary needs. While some may choose to include it in their paleo diet in moderation, others may opt to avoid it altogether. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine if teff flour is right for you and your dietary goals.
Arguments For Teff Flour In A Paleo Diet
Despite the fact that teff flour is not considered paleo by some, there are several arguments for including it in a paleo diet.
Firstly, teff flour is an excellent source of resistant starch, a type of dietary fiber that helps to balance and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Resistant starch also benefits colon health, weight management, and digestion in general. This makes it a great addition to a paleo diet that focuses on whole, unprocessed foods that promote gut health.
Secondly, teff flour is naturally gluten-free. While some ancient grains like spelt and Khorasan wheat contain gluten, teff flour is a great alternative for those who are sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease. It’s also a good option for those who simply want to reduce their gluten intake as part of a healthy diet.
Finally, teff flour has a subtle wholemeal flavor and can be used in a variety of recipes, from flatbreads to cakes and muffins. This makes it a versatile ingredient that can help to add variety to a paleo diet that can sometimes feel restrictive.