Spiced Teff Cookie Bars (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Soy-Free)

Ali Segersten Jun 26, 2009 27 comments

This recipe was inspired by an email I received from a fellow gluten-free blogger and mother of a toddler. Her son is allergic to wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, oats, and nuts. She had great success in baking my Rhubarb Muffins and other recipes, and was wondering if I had any cookie recipes that fit her son's allergy criteria and that also excluded seeds. Hmm, seeds too? No flax, no sunflower, no nothing? Now, I do have a handful of these types of cookie recipes which will be appearing in my next book, but what about something new? An idea for a richly spiced teff cookie bar was inspired!

I experimented with my idea two different ways while my twin toddlers were sleeping this afternoon. My four-year old daughter helped to measure all of the ingredients. It especially excites her to measure the spices and level them off with her finger!

These cookie bars are rich, moist, with a full-bodied spice flavor. My toddlers thoroughly enjoyed them!

Though I have not tested this, I believe these bars could be made with sprouted brown rice or sorghum flour in place of the teff. The teff does lend a discernible crunch which may turn some folks off, though die-hard teff lovers will surely be satiated with this recipe.

I have a number of gluten-free, vegan teff recipes available on this blog for those newcomers just stopping by for the first time. Enjoy!


About the Author

Ali Segersten

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University and a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine from the University of Western States. She is a Functional Nutritionist, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Alissa is the founder and owner of Nourishing Meals®.

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These have a fabulous flavor, but I tried to reduce the oil by adding more applesauce and they turned out very crumbly. It's fine with me, though, because they are delicious! Next time, I'll stick with the recipe :)

Thank you for creating some wonderful sounding cookies and bars that do not have chocolate. I can't have chocolate, wheat, corn...and I get so frustrated that everything has chocolate, so I am looking forward to making this recipe.

I just made these bars and didn't have the dried ginger so just added pureed ginger. Also added some cardamom, allspice and nutmeg. These are great! Thanks!


Inspired by Nicole suggestion, I used extra applesauce in place of the molasses. I think next time, I'll use more than 1 tsp of ginger to give it a little more spice. Otherwise, it was great.

I would try light olive oil or ghee. :)

I have the same food problems the little boy you made this recipe for does, plus coconut. So on top of avoiding eggs in my gluten-free baking, I also cannot use coconut. Do you know of anything that would work in place of coconut oil in a recipe like this?

Ali, I made these bars with pumpkin puree today for my little one who has quite a lot of food intolerances... molasses is something we are avoiding as well as most grains and refined sugars. So, I have been experimenting with teff since it is a seed and not a grain. I replaced the molasses with pure pumpkin puree and the sugar with coconut sugar, also omitting the vanilla. I decreased the xanthan gum by half and only used a 1/2 tsp b. soda and added a 1/2 tsp corn free b. powder. They turned out great with a nice pumpkin spice cake flavor! They reminded me more of a cake, not a bar and they were not gooey in the center like your picture. Thanks for the inspiration!! When I have a chance I will post a picture with a link to your recipe on my website.

Do you think you could make these without xanthan gum? I have been trying to do most of my gluten free baking without it and I would love to try this one, but only if you think it could be done.

I can't wait to try it!

I just made a pan of these bars, spiced them like a gingerbread cookie, and tried making holiday cutouts. It works! I blogged my experience (with props and links here, naturally) and I'll make more.

But because I feel compelled to eat all the mistakes and trimmings, I'm going to cut the next batch into squares and fancy them up with fruit and nut decorations.

Thank you for inventing this recipe!

Made these last night and used your suggested substitution on flours - 1 cup sorghum and 1 cup sweet rice. They are truly delicious. I sent the batch to work with my husband and got gushing reviews from a bunch of carpenters. I might add some crystallized ginger next time and increase the ginger a bit. I love teff but it's expensive and sweet rice flour is not so I figured I'd give it a shot. Really great! Thank you!
Also, baked in a 9x9 metal pan turned out fine.

Thanks Shirley and Kim! :)

Oh my goodness, I'm drooling...

I must try these!

-kim // affairsofliving.blogspot.com

Those are beautiful bars, Ali! I know I would love them. You are the teff whiz! :-)


Kimberly - Oh well on the nuts, hopefully you can use some of my upcoming pumpkin seed flour recipes! :)

Amy - I use both brown rice flour and sweet rice flour. Teff flour just doesn't work in all recipes (especially those with less or no liquid. I use the sorghum, sweet rice, tapioca combo is some recipes. I really like it. In fact, I wonder if this combo would work in these bars (may even work better than the teff). I would try 1 cup sorghum, 1 cup sweet rice, and 1/2 cup tapioca. :)

Yogamama - Thanks for adding your substitutions here. Now, did you use brown rice flour or sweet rice flour? Glad your kids enjoyed them! :)

Katrina - You can order teff flour from www.teffco.com - it comes in all sorts of different amounts. :)

I can't find teff locally. BOO!

Ali, I wanted to chime in here and let you and other readers know that I made these bars today using sorghum/rice flours in place of the teff. They turned out great! I took them with us, along with fresh fruit and nuts, on a long bike ride today. My kids gobbled them up. They were the perfect mid-day snack! Thanks!

I must say that I appreciate the educational value you bring to your blog. Another flour question - how do you feel about rice flours? You mentioned the crunch with teff. I use a blend that is comprised of sweet rice, sorghum, and tapioca. I know some people use potato flour to avoid the gritty or crunchy texture but I don't eat white potatoes and don't want to bake with it either.

Thanks Ali!
I'll look forward to more recipes. Sadly, I can't have nuts, but hey--life could be worse!

CoconutGal - Thanks! Glad you are enjoying the book so far! A mason jar works great for making the sauerkraut. And yes - in the cupboard is perfect. :)

Kimi - Teff flour does have a certain binding property, but in a baked good, it can also get pretty crumbly after a few days. I think these would be good in the wintertime - it has been chilly here which is probably why I came up with something so warming. :)

Kimberly - I am glad you found us...hope you enjoy the buckwheat muffins. I am going to make an announcement soon about the pumpkin seed flour; it is now available in 5lb pails through Omega Nutrition. I am planning on posting a few egg-free recipes made with the flour starting next week. I don't know how my chocolate cake would work without eggs. I will try and create a cake soon sans eggs. If you can tolerate nuts I do have a grain-free, vegan chocolate cupcake on this blog.

-Ali :)

I just found your blog through Nourishing Gourmet. I really like what I see here:) I am especially interested in your carrot buckwheat muffins. I have all sorts of foods I am having to stay away from, but I think I might be able to try those muffins.

I also have never heard of pumpkin seed flour. I can't eat many grains at all and thought your recipe using pumpkin seed flour was amazing. I wonder if I could replace the eggs? I'm adding you to my blogroll and will definitely be back:)

Yummy! These look great. I like teff flour a lot too (I think it also holds together better then some of the other gluten free flours). I think these would be perfect for a wintery day with a cup of hot cocoa. :-)

Teff is one of my favorites. Yummm! You are so great with these "free of everything" challenges Ali. I would be stumped. These sound and look wonderful. Printing them out for my "to make" list. Yum!

I am loving your cookbook Ali. It is full of such useful information. I love all the tips and instructions along with the recipes. Usually recipe books leave you wondering how to do things but this is like a manual and nutrition guide along with delicious, wholesome recipes. Love the part about cooking beans! I still haven't done it... I AM going to now.
Oh I do have a question.. for making your own sauerkraut, do I need to do it in a container that isn't clear? The only big jars I have are mason jars. So if I used one of those but stuck it in a dark cupboard, would that be ok?
Thanks! Have a great weekend :)

Brynn - Yes, I do feel that teff is nutritionally superior to other gluten-free grains/flours. Though using a balance of all (whole grains/flours) is probably best. I will let you all know soon when the next book is due out. And yes, my baking recipes have changed; I have learned so much and am continuing to learn with more experimentation! :)

Eagle Loft - Thank you for the inspiration! Right now I use Nutiva coconut oil. I think natural cane sugar would work here too, but the Sucanat, maple sugar, and/or brown sugar will yield a more flavorful bar. I love the photo you posted on your blog of this bar, hope others click on the link and check it out! :) Thanks for commenting here with your baking modifications; these will help others I am sure! :)

Barbara - You know, I thought about adding chocolate chips once I cut into these bars because they reminded me so much of brownies. Not sure if I am a fan of the chocolate/cinnamon/molasses combo though. If you try it let me know how they turn out. :)


I made these today and they are fantastic! I was so surprised that they are so light and delicate-tasting. Being a dark colour, I assumed they would be quite dense. This is my first experience with teff flour, and I am a new fan!

I used 1/4 cup maple sugar and 1/4 cup natural cane sugar in place of the brown sugar. I baked these in a 9x9 silicone pan for 22 minutes and they turned out perfectly.

Thanks again Ali! Here is a link to my photo/writeup of these yummy cookie bars: Eagle Loft Kitchen

These look awesome! Thank you, as always for helping those of us learn about cooking gluten, dairy and egg free!
Now, what do you think about adding some chocolate chips or cocoa powder to these yummy bars?

Oh Ali, these look so good! Thank you, thank you, thank you for creating a cookie bar that fits with all our allergies. :)

I've just started to use coconut oil in baking. I bought Artisana because I saw a picture of their coconut butter in your blog. Do you use their oil too or is there another brand you would recommend (theirs is so yummy!)?

Is natural cane sugar suitable to use as brown sugar or should I stick with brown?

Thanks again! I'll let you know how they turn out. :)

Like you, we cook with Sorghum a lot. Teff, not so much, as it is not available at our local co-op. Yet. Of particular importance to me is the nutritional profile of the grains we use in gluten-free baking. Nutritionally, are there advantages to using these two flours?

And when will your next book be out. WE use your first often, but I notice that your baking recipes have changed quite a bit since the first book.


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