Teff, the Breakfast of World Class Runners

At 1 a.m. we go for gold
At 1 a.m. when we we lost control
At 1 a.m., oh yeah
God d*mn, god d*mn

We don’t want to go home
– Matt & Kim 

Recently I discovered, and fell madly in love with this tiny little grain called Teff. Don’t dismiss this grain due to its size, or because it’s a grain (honestly, the grain aversion trend needs to end). A staple in Ethiopia, teff is loaded with iron. It has been suggested that due to the mass consumption of teff, and iron, that Ethiopians are some of the best long-distance runners on the planet.

Also known as Eragrostis and lovegrass, Teff ranges in color from reddish-chestnut, to the more classic ivory hue. This grain makes a terrific stand-in for cornmeal. Add teff to pie crusts, cookies or simply make into a polenta-like substance and throw on a griddle with some ghee. 

Popeye loves his spinach, but I surmise that when he is having a hankering for a sweeter breakfast, he would gladly glug down a bowl of teff porridge. This dish melds teff, with three different dried fruits- figs, prunes and apricots. Iron, fiber and flavor, oh my.

Prunes- love or hate them, we all know they help you poop. Fiber plus a bit more iron? Why not? Plus they turn silky, melt in your mouth smooth once cooked.

Turkish Figs- always remind me of sneaking Fig Newtons as a wee one. Pillow soft, super sweet, and full of crunchy seeds, figs are divine. Turkish figs also contain iron and a decent amount of fiber.

Turkish Apricots- add an aromatic/floral note to the pot. Yet again, more iron, Vitamin A and deliciousness.

Ghee- kindle your digestive fire, oleate internally (good for the brain) and add a bit of fat to create a buffer from the naturally occurring sugars found in the dried fruit.

Cinnamon- boosts digestion and assimilation, while aiding in elimination. Due to its heating potency, cinnamon works  to strengthen the old ticker and warm the kidneys. Say adios to cold hands and feet.
Cinnamon may be used to balance, or reduce, the more kaphic/heavy qualities of a meal, such as the inherent sweetness found in many grains.

Ginger- similar to cinnamon, helps with the digestion and assimilation of nutrients.  Ginger sends toxins and wastes moving out of the body.  

Cardamom– a carminative (prevents gas), this delicious spice helps decrease the amount of air in the stomach, thereby making digestion more efficient. Less burps, makes for happier coworkers, pets and/or lovers.

Teff Porridge of Champions 
Serves: 1
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

1 cup Water
1/3 cup Teff
Pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt
2 each: Unsulfured Turkish Figs, prunes and Turkish apricots- chopped
1/4  tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground Ginger
Pinch of ground Cardamom
1 Tablespoon of Ghee (or brown butter)

In a small saucepan, bring the cup of water and Himalayan salt to a boil.
Slowly stir in the Teff*.
Add the remaining ingredients.
Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. The consistency should be that of a thick porridge.
Turn off the heat and leave covered, allowing the cereal to rest for about five minutes.
Dish up, and sprinkle with some additional cinnamon.
Savor while facing East, towards the rising sun,  add fire to fire. 

*Bonus tip- toast teff in a dry skillet prior to adding to the water. This adds a level of sophistication and complexity to this earthy grain. Totally optional.

Hope this herculean, iron boosting breakfast gives you the jump-start you need in the morning. While you’re at it, listen to the song below.
Get it.

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