This morning, I made hot cereal from the smallest grain in the world. This seed is so small that it takes 150 seeds to equal 1 kernel of wheat! The century-old grain is called teff. The texture and flavor reminded me of the farina (aka cream of wheat) that my mom prepared in the wintertime for my siblings and I before we left for school. She would sometimes add baking cocoa to create a chocolate version.
Whole grain teff is a highly nutritious grain with 4 grams dietary fiber and 7 grams protein per 1/4 cup (dry) serving. It is super dense in calcium and very high in phosphorus, iron, copper and thiamin. I was curious to learn how teff compares nutritionally to cream of wheat. My Internet search led me to a Cooking with Real Food Group where Johnny Penso posted the following on a cream of wheat forum.
"When I first started researching healthy eating a few years ago, breakfast was one of my top priorities. I always eat first thing in the morning, no matter what time I get up and I like variety. I was going through what I thought were new healthy options in the grocery store and ran across Cream of Wheat. I thought, “this must be good for me, it’s made from wheat”. Believe it or not, I had never eaten it before, in spite of coming from Canada, where almost everyone has eaten it at one time or another. But as I looked on the box and read the label I said to myself, “Hmmm, I may be colour blind, but I know that wheat in the field is not white, and there doesn’t seem to be enough fibre in here for it to be made from whole wheat, I better investigate this”.
So I went to the net and did a google search on “how is cream of wheat made”. Here’s what it said in a nutshell. As the wheat is fed into the mill, the rollers flake off the bran and germ, and the starch (or endosperm) is cracked into coarse pieces in the process. Through sifting, these particles are separated from the bran and this is semolina also known as farina or Cream of Wheat. There are two main types of semolina sold on the general market. Durum semolina, made from hard wheat (typical white pasta flour) , and soft wheat semolina, also known as farina or by the trade name Cream of Wheat, used as a hot breakfast cereal.
Wait a minute I said, that sounds suspiciously like white bread or pasta flour. Why is that? Because it’s the exact same process used to make white flour, that is removing the most nutritious part of wheat, the germ and the bran. So when you are eating Cream of Wheat, you are basically eating hot, wet, white bread, from a nutritional standpoint. If you put their nutritional profiles side by side, you’ll find that White Bread, denounced as the nutritional wasteland it actually is, really has significantly more niacin, thiamin, riboflavin and folate.
Add to that that Cream of Wheat is 66 on the glycemic index (life savers candy are a close 70) so to your blood sugar, there is no difference between eating a bowl full of sugar and a bowl of Cream of Wheat."