Named the ingredient of 2018, Teff the seed of Lovegrass is the smallest and most powerful grain in the world. Naturally gluten-free, its high fibre and high protein content isn’t the only attractive feature about this life-changing grain. It also directly competes with mineral and vitamin supplements as just 100g accounts for approximately 50% your recommended daily intake of minerals and vitamins like iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and calcium.
We caught up with fairy-gut-godmother, Karen O Donoghue, founder of The Happy Tummy Co. to quiz her 2018’s trendiest superfood…
What is Teff?
Teff is the seed of Lovegrass. Lovegrass is a grass grown across 87% of Ethiopia and was the first grain ever cultivated for human consumption on the Ethiopian Highlands around 5000 BC. It is almost as small as ground pepper and is naturally gluten-free. Cup for cup when compared with all other grains its mineral, vitamin, fibre and protein contents are super high making it a super food in the truest form of the word. There are 27 different varieties. We work with a brown variety called Keey Teff from Bale, Ethiopia but hope to work with all 27 eventually.
Can Teff be found in your delicious bread and what else is in this incredible bread that makes it so good for you?
It absolutely can be! All our products are developed with Teff at their core due to its high iron, magnesium, calcium and fibre content. We also use a mixture of high fibre nuts and seeds as our good gut bacteria like to get their food (fibre) from a certain combination of grains, nuts and seeds. We use Sicilian Hazelnuts from the base of Mount Etna, flaxseed, chia seeds, buckwheat, millet, almonds and cultured apple cider vinegar to name just a few!
How did you discover Teff?
Through researching ancient grains about 8 years ago when trying to develop a bread that would keep us in awesome gut health!
What are the benefits of using Teff?
Due to its high prebiotic fibre content you enable your good gut bacteria to breed more good gut bacteria once it has been fermented in your gut. Creating more colonies of good gut bacteria enables you to stay healthier. Due to the very high percentages of specific minerals and vitamins in teff one can keep their immune system very strong, their nervous system robust, their metabolism functioning at its optimum and can help reduce tiredness and fatigue due to the high iron content in teff.
The high iron content in teff also enables athletes to perform for 25% longer which is why the Ethiopian runners swear by this ingredient so much when competing in the Olympics!
Fermented food and drink is having a moment in the health industry. Do you see this as a trend that will stick around?
Absolutely! We generally feel that real, healthy trends stick. In fact, we would say that this is only the beginning! There is so much more that can be introduced to the fermentation process of food and drink to make products even more nourishing and digestible.
Tell us about The Happy Tummy Company and why you started this business?
The Happy Tummy Co. was started to make functional medicine a real part of food in an utterly delicious way. When I started the company a few years ago I was really struggling to find products and nutritional help that worked on my unhappy tummy. Free-from eating was having its moment at the time but the deeper issues were going completely ignored.
Nutritionists and food producers would unfortunately focus on what you should take out of your diet as opposed to how to prepare your food for better gut health which was exasperating gut health issues for people like myself. Making food more digestible and higher in fibre are two fundamental and important food hacks we should all be aware of. A lot of the time when you begin to eliminate food groups from your diet you introduce foods that perhaps your body isn’t used to digesting and you can really begin to limit the variety of foods you consume thereby not feeding your good gut bacteria the foods it needs to keep you alive.
The Happy Tummy Co. was started to bring science to the foreground of the food world allowing people access to information and products that worked for them in keeping their tummies happy and their bodies and minds healthy. We don’t just want to feed people. We want to nourish people through their guts so that we can help them from becoming physically or mentally unwell.
Our products have a huge impact on brain health and the nervous system as well as one’s bowel health. We are passionate about helping people manage a whole, healthy body – every organ in the body because the mind effects the tummy and the tummy effects the mind.
What the future plans for The Happy Tummy Company?
We will continue to grow our product range and where we sell year on year for the next 50 years so that eventually every tummy across the world can live happier. We shall be launching in New York later this year and will launch in new cities across the world as much as possible for the next decade.
Our mission is to get to as many tummies as possible as quickly as possible. We have just started new work in a lab in Harlem, New York where we are working on hugely exciting and new food processes to make our foods even more nourishing.
We are massively excited about launching this new science soon. We will deepen our ties with Ethiopia over the next number of years eventually enabling more female entrepreneurship out of Ethiopia. Our company is very mission led. We go and do what makes sense to make us all feel better, happier and calmer.
Can you suggest an easy recipe for us to start cooking with Teff?
The easiest recipe of all is to simply soak teff grain with a probiotic yoghurt or kefir overnight and add it to your meals throughout the next day. We love having soaked teff on our Teff Banana Pecan Loaf with honey for a hugely nutritious meal. Some of our latest teff recipes are here 🙂
Is it true that Teff can help diabetics?
It is true that Teff can help manage diabetic symptoms as it slows the release of insulin into the bloodstream. Consuming one cup of teff supplies the body with more than 100 percent of the daily recommended amount of manganese. Manganese is needed to help with proper production of digestive enzymes responsible for a process called gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis involves the conversion of protein’s amino acids into sugar and the balance of sugar within the bloodstream. Manganese has been shown to help prevent high blood sugar levels that can contribute to diabetes.
Honestly, Teff never ceases to blow our minds and inspire us at HQ! Teff naturally balances hormone levels, boosts immunity, stimulates digestion, strengthens bones, promotes cardiovascular health and aids weight loss. It is our favourite superfood at HQ!
Hettie is the editor and co-founder of DOSE. A keen runner, she’s also partial to a blast of high-intensity and hot yoga. A country girl at heart, she divides her time between London and the lush rolling hills of North Devon. When she’s not jetting off on her next adventure, Hettie can be found in a candle-lit alcove with a laptop, a spaniel and a full bodied Malbec.