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In our previous post, 3 Gluten-Free Grains You’ve Never Tried, we explored nutritious gluten-free millet, amaranth and sorghum. But if you thought those were the last of the nutritious “ancient grains” you can incorporate into your cooking, think again!

We’re back with two more types of grains (or “pseudograins”, which are technically the edible seeds of grasses) that can add flavor, creative flair, and essential vitamins and minerals to your diet. This time we’re going to look at teff, a grain often associated with Ethiopian cooking, as well as quinoa, a South American crop that’s quickly growing in its popularity and availability.

  1. Teff is a grass that is native to Ethiopia and produces an iron-rich, and tremendously nutritious seed that is referred to as teff grain (or simply “teff”). In Ethiopian cuisine, this grain is ground into flour that is used to make a fermented batter which becomes injera, a spongy flatbread that most Ethiopian dishes are served on. It can also be fermented to make alcoholic beverages. Teff is available as both a flour and a whole grain. It can range in color from ivory to deep brown. White teff has a milder, nutty flavor. Darker colors of teff have a more intense and earthy flavor.The whole grains are tinier than millet or quinoa, and can be boiled to make a healthy side dish, pilaf, or porridge. They can also be used to make vegetarian grain-based patties. Teff can be sprouted. When ground into flour, teff is also an excellent gluten-free thickener for soups and sauces. Because of its distinctive flavor and its darker color, teff flour is often used to replace just a small part of the flour in gluten-free baking; it mixes well with rice flour and sorghum flour.Nutrition Facts: 100 grams of uncooked teff grains contain 14g protein, 8g fiber and 42% of the daily RDA for iron.
  2. Quinoa is an increasingly popular gluten-free grain and a nutritional powerhouse! Quinoa leaves can be prepared like spinach or swiss chard. Quinoa seeds (grains) need to be rinsed to remove bitter-tasting compounds called saponins, or you can purchase pre-rinsed quinoa. They can be lightly toasted over medium heat to give the grain a nutty flavor before following your favorite recipe, if you choose. Quinoa can be used in place of rice in many dishes, prepared like a pilaf, added to soups and chilis, or simmered with milk and cinnamon for a hot breakfast cereal. It can be popped, ground into flour, or mixed with beans and eggs and shaped into veggie burgers.Quinoa flour adds fiber and protein to gluten-free baking but has a whole grain texture and appearance and possesses a distinctive flavor, so it is generally used in savory recipes or breads rather than pastries. Try substituting it for half of the rice flour called for in gluten-free recipes.Not only is quinoa a vegetarian complete protein (meaning that unlike most vegetable foods it contains all of the essential amino acids that are our bodies need), but it also contains anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. An ounce of quinoa contains twice as much calcium as an ounce of wheat. Quinoa is a low-fat food but the fats in it are particularly heart-healthy, such as small amounts of omega 3 fatty acids.

    Nutrition Facts: 100 grams of uncooked quinoa contain 14g protein, 7g fiber and 25% of the daily RDA for iron.

Learning about ancient foods such as teff and quinoa that are new to the American palate is just one of the silver linings of a celiac diagnosis. Here’s to allowing our dietary restrictions to open doors to new culinary discoveries!


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