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EAT SMARTER CARBS: Vitality Teff Oatmeal

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

As the mornings are getting cooler, I find myself craving warmer, more comforting foods. One of my favourite fall/winter breakfast foods is porridge. Time crunched mornings may have me needing to grab something quick…and this teff oatmeal fits the bill. How can oatmeal be quick, you ask? Although this recipe takes about 30 minutes from start to finish, I can use the time it’s cooking to make lunches, prep dinner or do a few chores. And the best part? If I double the recipe, I can have left-overs for the next few days.

For this recipe, I took a traditional ‘rolled oats’ recipe and upgraded it by adding in teff (an ancient grain, smart carbohydrate and protein source), organic berries (more smart carbohydrates and fiber), flax and chia (great sources of omega 3 fatty acids and fiber) and hemp hearts (more protein).

All these ingredients add up to a complete meal that fuels me up for hours without the sugar cravings that traditional sugary packaged instant oatmeal or breakfast cereals tend to create.

So, what exactly are carbohydrates (carbs) and what makes them smart? Well, carbohydrates are just one of the 3 macronutrients along with protein and fats. These nutrients supply energy/calories that fuel our bodies and, along with micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), make up the foods we eat. Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers that come from fruits, grains, vegetables, beans/legumes, nuts, seeds and milk products.

Though often maligned in fad/trendy diets, they are an essential part of a healthy diet. Carbs are often (erroneously) thought of ‘the enemy’ when it comes to trying to lose weight, get lean or prevent/manage Type 2 diabetes. This is unfortunate, as smart carbs are what give us energy, zest and vitality. They fuel us up to perform our best, and sleep and function well. Very few people feel or perform well on low carb diets. If you cut carbs too low you, will find your energy tanks, you feel anxious, deprived and cranky, and your sugar cravings getting the best of you.

All carbs are not created equal and thus we need to choose our carbs wisely. Carbs are found on a continuum. The more water, fiber, nutrients, minerals and phytonutrients the ‘smarter’ the carbs. Think whole foods vs packaged foods such as whole vegetables, fruits, beans/legumes and grains vs fruit juice, breads, cereals and sugary snacks and desserts.

How can you get more smart carbs into your daily menu? If smart carbs are new to you, try adding some new ones in. Perhaps you switch from fruit juice to the whole fruit (more fiber, less sugar) or switch up your traditional white bread to whole grain sprouted bread (more fiber, more nutrients). If you’ve been at this for a while, why not try upgrading some of your favourite recipes like I’ve done with this oatmeal or try steel cut oats. This is the season for substituting spaghetti squash for pasta and zucchini noodles for lasagne noodles.

For more ideas and a tool to help you increase your smart carb choices, check out this resource from Precision Nutrition:

Here’s the recipe:



¼ cup Teff

1 cup Rolled Oats

1 Tbsp Hemp Hearts

1 Tbsp Ground Flax

1 Tbsp Chia

½ cup Fresh or Frozen Berries

3 cups Water or Milk (I use half water and half organic soy, almond or coconut milk)

½ tsp Cinnamon (optional)


1. Add water/milk to a pot and bring to a boil.

2. Add all dry ingredients (except berries).

3. Stir often to prevent sticking to bottom.

4. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.

5. If berries are frozen, add about half way through cooking time. If berries are fresh, add at the end of cooking.

6. Divide between 2 large or 4 small bowls. Serve with fresh berries and warm milk or a drizzle of maple syrup.

7. Enjoy! 😋

I’d love to know what you think of the recipe or what your tricks and tips are for getting more smart carbs into your daily menu. What will you do to make your carb choices just a little bit better? Post in the comments. 🧡 Anita


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