4 X CRITICALLY IMPORTANT REASONS TO SHOP LOCAL

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4 X CRITICALLY IMPORTANT REASONS TO SHOP LOCAL

Unlike most countries around the world, Australia is a sunny, fertile and lush country where we can grow and farm just about everything we need. But are we buying it? Research shows that we might not be - food imports into Australia have increased from $4 billion in 1988-1989 to $14 billion in 2016-2017 and now amount to over 15% of our food consumption. For a number of reasons, this isn’t good news...here’s why:

Imported goods rack up thousands of food miles

If you haven’t heard of food miles, they’re the distance that food travels to get to our plate. You’d be surprised to know that the average shopping basket in Australia has travelled over 70,000 kilometres!

This is terrible news for the environment. Food is more often than not getting to us on a fossil-fueled vehicle, so every additional mile means more emissions and more bad news for the environment and climate change.

Food from overseas isn’t as traceable as food here

When farmers grow food in Australia, they understand its entire life journey, from being a tiny seed to becoming a delicious banana loaf mix. They know what soil is used to grow it, what process it’s been through when it’s harvested, and who has handled it.

When you buy food from overseas, traceability can become an issue. Even if good practices are used in the manufacturing process, it’s hard to know what’s happened before and sometimes it’s hard to know what has happened at all. A lack of traceability can leave consumers with many unanswered questions and a lot of doubt.

Farming wipes out old growth forests

We’ve got some great environmental protections here in Australia, but overseas some government aren’t so strict.

Often, entire old growth rainforests and the species they contain can get wiped out to make way for farmable land.

Would you really want to eat food from overseas, knowing that to create it, entire habitats were destroyed?

You create and support local jobs

Did you know that in Australia, there are 85,681 farm businesses? And that each farmer produces, on average, enough food to feed 600 people?

By buying local, you’re supporting your local farmer and creating more jobs and opportunities for us to create the world’s best food, right here in our backyard.

Support your local farmer and try some of our nutritious and mouth-watering teff.

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WHAT IS IT LIKE GROWING UP ON A FARM?

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WHAT IS IT LIKE GROWING UP ON A FARM?

If you’re one of those people that’s lived your whole life in the city or even the suburbs, you’d be forgiven for not knowing a whole lot about farm life outside of what you might have seen on Farmer Wants a Wife! While that’s totally okay, we thought it might be nice to shine a light on what life is like when you grow up on a farm...because it sure is a bit different from what you might have experienced.

Your mum and dad become great at planning

As kids, none of us really think about where our next meal is coming from...we just simply expect to go to the pantry and find food there. When you’re in the country though, you do become more appreciative of the effort your parents need to go to put that food on the table.

For example, in the town I grew up (Wakool, NSW), my mum had to drive for more than 45 minutes to get even basic groceries. Needless to say, she was VERY organised as forgetting something meant you’d go without for the next week or two!  

There’s always work to be done on the farm

When we were children, my two sisters and I played a lot but we also learnt the value of a hard day’s work from a young age. Every summer, we would walk through our vast rice paddies and pick out thousands of weeds. It was hard work but we knew that if we didn’t help out, there would be weed seeds in the crops for the next sowing season.

Helping on the farm just became part of our lives and although we might not have had as much play time as other children, we enjoyed being outdoors and being able to contribute to the farm life in a meaningful way.

Weeding wasn’t the only thing we did, either! As we grew, we helped with the sheep and cattle work in the yards as well.

The weather is your everything

If it rains in the city you live, you grab a raincoat and Bob’s your uncle. But if it rains on the farm your whole day, week or even month can change. For example, when we grow teff , we need to smooth the soil out (called boarding) before we plant the seed. If it rains too much, we can’t board it as the ground sets and becomes too hard for us to work with.

Conversely, no rain is also bad news! Our Teff crops rely on irrigation from the Murray-Darling basin, so if there isn’t enough water in that, our crops fail.

What I miss about farm life

Now I live between the city (where I run Outback Harvest) and the farm, I do miss many of the great qualities of country life! The two things I miss the most are the vast, never-ending glow of stars in the night sky, and the absolute silence of nothing but nature. When you’re on a farm, with no light or sound pollution, it’s the perfect place to sit outside and enjoy nature in its element.  

Grab some of our delicious teff to try a bit of the farming life for yourself!

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5 WAYS TO GET YOUR DAILY IRON

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5 WAYS TO GET YOUR DAILY IRON

Iron. We all know we need it. It’s the critical stuff in our red blood cells that helps carry oxygen from our lungs to everywhere in our body. Without it, we feel tired, weak, and we can even be at risk of anemia. Every day, men need at least 8 mg in their diet, whereas women need upwards of 18 mg (or 27 mg if pregnant). That’s a lot of iron! So how do we get it?

Here’s 5 ways to get your daily iron.

Spirulina seaweed

Feeling green today? If you like seaweed, good news - it’s incredibly high in iron! All you need is just 85 grams of it to get 28 mg of iron.

Oysters

If seaweed isn’t your thing, perhaps seafood is? Indulge on some oysters and get the iron you need. You’ll need to eat a few though - if you’re a man, you need to eat approximately 4 and if you’re a woman, you’ll need more like 10.

Beef

Sink your teeth into some beef for your daily iron dose. 115 grams of beef will get you 3 mg of iron, so you’ll need to eat a pretty decent sized steak to get what you need (at least a 350 gram sized one!).

Turkey

If beef isn’t for you, try turkey! Turkey has the same iron content per gram as beef, so you’ll need a good sized portion of turkey (over 350 grams) to satisfy your daily requirement.

Teff

If you’re a vegan or you just don’t like seafood, these options won’t work for you. But don’t worry, teff will! With the same iron content per gram as red meat, teff will get you your daily iron, plus calcium, plus protein, plus probiotics and a whole host of other health benefits.

Start getting your daily iron the right way now with Outback Harvest’s teff.

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IF YOU WANT TO BE HEALTHIER, DO THIS ONE THING… A quick guide to grains

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IF YOU WANT TO BE HEALTHIER, DO THIS ONE THING… A quick guide to grains

With the Google search ‘How to eat healthier’ returning 162 million results, you’d be forgiven for feeling confused about how to be your healthiest self. And while most of us aspire to be healthy, trying to overhaul our diets all at once doesn’t work - research shows that crash diets aren’t effective or sustainable in the long term. Nutritionists instead recommend taking baby steps towards being more healthy by changing one thing about your diet and lifestyle at a time.

And what better place to start than the grain you eat! With grain-based food comprising approximately 30% of an adult’s daily food intake, if you want to be healthier, a great place to start is with the healthiest grain. Here’s a quick overview of the different grains and the health benefits they provide:

Wheat: Is used in the majority of grain-based products - for example, bread, pasta, noodles and couscous, are made from wheat. Durum ‘bread’ wheat is the most common, followed by other species such as, spelt, emmer, einkorn and Khorasan.

Wheat has some good qualities, but it certainly doesn’t suit everyone. It’s mainly composed of carbs (90% starch). The starch in wheat gives it high digestibility, which may cause an unhealthy spike in blood sugar. This isn’t good news for those with diabetes. It also has a high glycemic index (GI), again making it unsuitable for those with diabetes.

On the plus side though, whole wheat is high in fibre, which is good for gut health (although these same fibres can cause digestive issues for those with IBS).

Wheat also contains proteins, which makes it great for bread-making. These proteins do come with a down-side, though: gluten is the largest family of proteins in wheat, making this grain option unsuitable for those with gluten intolerances.

Quinoa:  Quinoa, although technically not a ‘cereal grain’ like wheat, can be used as a great grain substitute in a variety of meals.

Quinoa has some great qualities for everyone. Firstly, like wheat, quinoa is high in fibre. It has a mix of insoluble and soluble fibre, the latter of which is shown to reduce blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and increase feelings of fullness.

Quinoa also contains a number of essential minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron. But there’s a downside to this: quinoa also contains phytic acid, which can bind these minerals together and reduce their absorption. It’s also high in oxalates, which can reduce the absorption of calcium and cause problems for people with kidney stones.

If you’re a diabetic, though, quinoa is a great choice: it’s low GI. It is still fairly high in carbs, so not the best choice if you’re wanting a low-carb diet.

Chia: Chia seeds are tiny black seeds that come from a plant called Salvia Hispanica (related to mint).

All in all, chia is a very healthy choice! It contains essential nutrients such as calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. It also contains antioxidants that help to fight the production of free radicals, which can contribute to aging and diseases like cancer.

Unlike quinoa, chia contains mostly soluble fibre - so it’s good news for your gut health and those feelings of fullness that prevent us from overeating. And it’s gluten-free!

Oats: Most of us would be used to whipping up some instant oats for our breakfast porridge so we can start the day right but unfortunately...instant oats are amongst the least healthy kind!

Fortunately though, oats in other forms can provide some good health benefits.

Oats do contain a great mix of nutrients. They are high in manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate, and Vitamin B1 and B5. They also contain smaller amounts of calcium, potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin B3. Something for everyone there!

Oats also boast a special antioxidant called avenanthramide. This unique antioxidant helps lower blood pressure and prevent inflammation and anti-itching.

Teff: Hailing from ancient Africa, teff is (currently) not as well known as the other grains, but this is changing fast...and mostly because of teff’s incredible health credentials.

Teff contains many of the same nutrients as oats, such as magnesium, vitamin B6 and calcium. But it also contains many nutrients that no other grain contains, such as zinc and vitamin C, which can boost our immune system, body tissues, and skeletal system.

One of the biggest differences with teff, though, is just how much of these nutrients it contains. It has a massive three times the calcium of quinoa and oats, and more thank milk gram-for-gram*. It also has double the iron of both quinoa and oats, and more than red meat gram-for-gram*. When you compare it to chia, it also has more essential nutrients.

And of course, it’s gluten-free!

Eating healthy isn’t always easy but choosing the right grain isn’t. And when it comes to health benefits, it’s hard to go past teff for your daily nutrients and so much more.

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WHAT WAS LIFE LIKE ON A FARM 100 YEARS AGO?

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WHAT WAS LIFE LIKE ON A FARM 100 YEARS AGO?

Where would you keep your milk if there was no fridge? How would you keep your feet warm if you didn’t have shoes? Throughout the last century, a LOT has changed about life on the farm, and our family, the McNauls, have been there to experience it all. We thought we’d take you on a little trip through time to explore the days of old and let me just say...the way our great grandad kept his feet warm was a little different to today!

Milking cows before machinery

Back in the early 20th century (around the 1920s onwards), my great grandad Harry McNaul and grandad Neville McNaul were dairy farmers in the Waikato region of New Zealand’s north island.

Back then, life was very different on the farm! Industrial machinery didn’t exist, so everything was done by hand or with the assistance of your work animals. This meant that the days were very long - much, much longer than they are now.

Preparation for a day started the evening before when you had to take the house cow’s calf from her so she would have enough milk in the morning. Calves are quite clever and knew what was coming, so this was never an easy task!

Then, the next morning, my great grandad and grandad would milk the cow manually into a tin bucket until they got about 10 litres of milk. The milk was then taken home (it was still dark at this stage) to our grandma who would put it into a cool room.

Refrigeration before fridges

A cool room - which was our version of a refrigerator at the time  - was a room made of fly-proof steel wire, with a tin-lined roof. This kept the food, meat and milk a little cooler than the outside temperature as air flow could move through easily. Due to the lack of refrigeration though, nothing lasted more than a few days so everything had to be consumed quickly.

Farm life in those days was very economical and sustainable - nothing was wasted! For example, when a lamb was killed to be eaten, the bones were given to the working dogs, and the fats were preserved for cooking. What was leftover then went to the chooks.

Warming your feet before shoes

Food might have been delicious on our family farm (it still is...try it here!), but money was tight. As such, my grandad didn’t have shoes until he was about 9 years, but he improvised to keep his feet warm! When he rode to school on frosty mornings he’d look for a cow taking a nice, long and warm wee...and, well, I think you know where I’m going with this.

But don’t worry...he washed his feet when he got to school! He’d put his pony in the school horse paddock and break through ice in the horse trough to rinse off before he went to school.

Machinery is introduced

The 1950s and 1960s were a real turning point for farmers. Our family went from using predominantly animals on the farm (see below for some of our horses pulling a dray!), to being able to use a tractor for the first time.

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The tractors we used back then were called Fergys (small grey Fergusons). They had a petrol engine and a small tray on the back where we could carry hay bales, or sheep and lambs at lambing time. It was a big change from just using horses.

Modern conveniences also had a big impact on life in general on the farm. My mum and grandma now had another activity in the evening to accompany their knitting - a TV! It was an exciting time but knitting jumpers, hats, socks and gloves from spun wool did - and still does - occupy much of their evening.

Farm life today

Today on our farm in Wakool, NSW, we’re pretty thankful for some modern conveniences - such as shoes and a fridge! Tractors also help us grow a diverse range of fresh crops, such as wheat, barley, oats, faba beans, corn and of course, teff.

In some ways, though, farm life hasn’t changed that much and we’re happy about that. Teff in particular is an extremely sustainable, low-waste crop that fits perfectly into our farm ecosystem , and our family still takes pride in creating the best farm-fresh products.

Want to taste fourth generation farming expertise? Try our teff, a superfood with style and substance.


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Teff...where did it come from and where is it going?

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Teff...where did it come from and where is it going?

If you’ve heard of teff at all, you’ve probably heard that it’s an ancient grain with a long and vibrant history. But what does that even mean?!? We thought we’d take a step back in time with you to explore the history of teff and why it’s so interesting, special and good for you!

Where did teff come from?

An incredible 6000 years ago, historians believed that teff was first used. Records dating back to about this time show that in Ethiopia and Eritrea, ancient peoples starting using teff to cook different types of breads.

The name ‘teff’ originated from the Amharic (Ethiopian) word ‘teffa’ which means lost. The reference to ‘lost’ is thought to symbolize the fact that the teff seed is tiny, hence can get lost easily!

How has teff been used throughout the ages?

Since its first primitive uses years ago, teff has been used to make an Ethiopian bread called injera. Injera is a soft flatbread that is prepared from slightly fermented batter. As of now, this is still its extensive use - in Ethiopia alone, it is the staple food crop to millions of people and is also used widely in other parts of Africa.

But injera is far from the only use for teff! Since the western world discovered teff, they’ve been using it for everything from porridge to sticky date toffee muffins. And it’s not hard to see why - with more calcium per unit than milk, and more iron than red meat, it’s a healthier, more nutritious choice for just about anyone. It’s also gluten-free, a particularly popular choice for anyone who needs or is interested in the benefits of a gluten-free diet.

When did teff come to Australia?

In 2014, the McNaul family discovered teff overseas and wanted to help Australians benefit from this delicious and nutritious crop. Since then, we’ve reached thousands of people via our online store, and that number is growing by the day!
Have you reaped the benefits of this ancient grain? If not, grab some now.

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HOW TEFF GETS FROM OUR FARM TO YOUR PLATE

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HOW TEFF GETS FROM OUR FARM TO YOUR PLATE

When you sit down to your delicious porridge in the morning, do you ever wonder what journey your food went on to reach you? If it’s not something you’ve ever thought about, maybe you should - food miles (the distance food travels to get to you) and shopping and support local businesses are both considered critical to help build a more sustainable world. And really, who wants food that’s been sitting in a shipping container for months and comes from who knows where?!?

If you’re an Outback Harvest teff-lover, we’ve got great news for you in this respect. Your teff is grown, harvested and prepared for you right here in Australia, at our family farm located in the heart of the NSW Riverina. Here’s the journey it goes on to get from a tiny seed to your plate:

Ploughing and sowing

Teff is a summer crop, so this means that we need to start preparations early. In about October of every year, we plough the ground to make sure the soil is as fertile as possible.

This involves boarding the soil (flattening it out) and rolling it (which makes it firm). This process can take a week or weeks, depending on the weather. For us farmers, everything is about the weather. If we plough and then it rains too much, we can’t board as the ground sets and we have to start the process again.

Weather dependant, we finish ploughing in October or November, and then it’s time to sow. To sow, we spread our teff seed evenly across the soil.

Irrigation

Like all crops, teff needs lots of tender loving care to thrive. Our farm is located in the Murray-Darling Basin and has access to water through this vast irrigated system when rain has filled the dams.

The water we use comes from the Hume Dam. It flows from the dam into the Murray River, then from there into the Edward River, and then finally into the Wakool canal. Once it’s reached the canal, it flows to the Teff via our personal irrigation channels.

We’re really proud that our teff gets water from the Murray irrigation system. As  the largest gravity-fed irrigation system in the southern hemisphere, the Murray Darling system is much better for the environment than water pump systems (just another tick for teff’s sustainability credentials!).

Growing

Throughout the November to January period, we regularly water our teff. It starts out as a tiny grass, but quickly grows into a beautiful, lush bright green grass - it really is a sight to see!

In about January, the grass starts to put its head out.

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Then we excitedly wait for the teff grass to start filling the head with grain, which can take a few weeks.

Harvesting

In February, we wind row the grain, which puts it in nice, neat rows.

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Once we’ve done that, we need to wait for the seeds to dry. This can take a few days or a few weeks, depending on the weather (if the seeds are too high in moisture they will go moldy and have to be thrown out!).  

After the seeds are dry, it’s harvest time. We use a machine called a header, which threshes the seeds out of the grass.

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Cleaning

We then clean the seeds, which takes away the chaff and they are then ready to be packed for consumption or go to the mill. That’s where the magic happens! They are then transformed into flour, pasta or our delicious premixes.

After that, it’s straight to your plate! Grab some of our teff now and let us know what you think.

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5 SURPRISING BENEFITS OF GOING GLUTEN-FREE

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5 SURPRISING BENEFITS OF GOING GLUTEN-FREE

We all strive to be our healthiest selves but at the same time, it’s not always easy. With so much confusing and contradictory health advice out there, it’s hard to know what’s right and what’s just a passing fad.

One health approach that’s here to stay, though, is going gluten-free. Even for those of us who aren’t gluten-insensitive or celiacs, living without gluten can have some surprising (and wonderful) benefits, including:

Better concentration: Research shows that gastronomical upsets caused by too much gluten can cause you to feel sluggish and less sharp. Removing gluten can have the opposite effect by improving your concentration.

Weight loss: A low gluten diet changes your gut microbiome, which eases gastronomical discomfort and results in a weight loss.

Improved nutrient absorption: Too much gluten can interfere with nutrient absorption, but cutting it out means that your body can absorb more of the good stuff.

A happy bowel: Less gluten in your diet can help your body restore bowel lining that might have been damaged.

Reduced bloating and less belching and flatulence: Gluten can cause gastronomical discomfort, so without it...need we say more!

Dieticians do warn, however, that if you do want to go gluten-free, you need to make sure that you still get enough good-quality fibre in your diet. To do so, make sure you’re replacing your grain products with a gluten-free option that’s high in fibre, such as teff.


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WHAT ARE FOOD MILES AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

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WHAT ARE FOOD MILES AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

What are food miles? Basically, it’s the distance - and journey - that your food has gone through to get to your plate. While our teff goes on a short and sweet journey to get to you <hyperlink> it’s very likely that other food on your plate might have had to travel a lot further...which isn’t ideal.

Here’s everything you need to know about food miles and how to reduce them:

Is my food racking up food miles without me even realising it?!?

As Australians, we like to think that we’re able to grow and produce most of the food we need right here. But do we?

Research shows that the average Australian shopping basket has travelled a staggering 70,000 kilometres. That’s the equivalent of 10 return trips to Perth, or 2 to London! And food miles are only increasing...the number of miles our food travels has increased by 140% since 1992.

What this means is that the food we’re buying isn’t half as fresh as we want it to be. But that is far from the only issue with food miles.

Why are food miles bad?

Food miles should be a concern for all of us as each mile travelled has a significant impact on the environment.

Basically, the longer the food has to travel, the more fossil fuels will need to be emitted to get it there. It also will most likely need more packaging which will end up in landfill.

Yet another consideration with food miles is the governance around what is cleared to make room for growing food in the first place. While in Australia, we do try to protect our environment, research shows that in developing countries, rainforests the size of football fields are regularly felled to make way for food crops for export.

How do I know where my food is from?

Think that ‘Made in Australia’ means your food was made here? Think again! Food packaging can be confusing. Here’s the 3 main types of food labels you’ll see and what they mean:

  • Product of Australia: Means that each significant ingredient must come from Australia and all or almost all of the processing must happen here too.

  • Made in Australia: Means that the product has been substantially transformed in Australia and at least 50% of the production costs have been incurred here (so a meat pie labelled ‘Made in Australia’ may have actually had some of their ingredients, for example meat, made elsewhere).

  • Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients: With this description, whichever comes first is the greatest proportion of the food’s ingredients.

How do I reduce my food miles?

The good news is that it’s easy to reduce your food miles by shopping local! Here’s how you should shop to get the freshest produce and decrease your food miles significantly:

  • Shop least: At bigger supermarkets, such as Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and Costco. If you shop at a bigger supermarket, try to visit an independent one, such as IGA, Leos or Ritchies.

  • Shop most: At Farmer’s Markets, organic grocers, or fresh-to-you online stores.  

  • Eat whole instead of processed food

  • Buy and eat in-season foods

  • Grow your own food


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TEFF LOVES YOUR GUTS

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TEFF LOVES YOUR GUTS

We’ve all taken a look at our tummies and thought...hmm, maybe I could do a bit better, but few of us realise that gut health is so important that scientists refer to it as our second brain! Your gut health influences so many different parts of you overall, from your weight to your digestion and how energetic you feel. But gut health is even bigger than this: research suggests that good gut health helps give you immunity from everything from emotional stress, to chronic illnesses such as cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

But with all the confusing dieting and nutrition advice out there, it’s harder than ever to look after your gut, right? Not true! Swapping out your current grain for a superfood like teff is an easy way to feel gut-great. Here’s why:

It’s gluten-free: Our tummies are home to millions of microbes that keep things in good working order. So important are these tiny particles, infact, that in general the healthier your microbes, the healthier you are overall! But unfortunately, gluten can cause quite significant damage to these critical bacteria, including reducing the total amount of bacteria, leaving you feeling bloated and lethargic. The answer? Go gluten-free with teff!

It’s a low FODMAP food: FODMAP, is case you’re ever asked at a trivia night, is an acronym for Fermetable Oligo- Di- Mono-saccharides and Polyols (yep, that will be pretty hard to remember!). Basically, FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, which can lead to bloating, especially for people with IBS. Although health professionals don’t recommend avoiding FODMAPs altogether, if you’re experiencing digestive issues, then it’s just another reason to give teff a try!

It’s naturally high in prebiotics: Remember how we said that gluten can damage our gut bacteria? Well good news - teff can help replenish it! Teff is full of prebiotics that help stimulate the growth and activity of the right type of bacteria in your gut.

It’s just better for you: If you want your gut, body and mind to be as healthy as possible, then it’s pretty hard to go past teff. If you’re choosing between teff and quinoa...teff has 3 x the calcium, double the iron and just ⅓ the fat (making it good for your gut and your waist!). And if you’re comparing teff to brown rice, it has double the fibre, 30% more protein and 8 x the calcium. Talk about the healthiest healthy option!

So if you’ve ever looked at your tummy and though you could do a bit better, grab some teff...your gut will say thanks.

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