Move over quinoa, there is a new king of grains in town (although it is technically a seed). Freekeh, pronounced “freak-keh,” is an ancient grain that has been enjoyed for centuries in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.
Freekeh is a wheat (typically durum) that has been harvested while it is still young and green and then roasted. Freekeh is a process, which means “to rub” in Arabic.
The story goes that this grain was discovered about 3,000 years ago when a young wheat crop caught on fire. Rather than tossing up their losses, the villagers made the best of a bad situation, and salvaged the premature wheat by rubbing off the char and cooking what was left. To their surprise, Freekeh was born.
This roasted green wheat delivers a nutty, smoky smell and taste, with a chewy texture similar to bulgur wheat, boasting a nutritional profile that makes it worthy of becoming the newest super grain.
Compared to other grains, freekeh is a better choice due to its high protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It also has a lower glycemic index, for slow released sustained energy. Try swapping out your rice or pasta with freekeh for a tasty meal, and enjoy these additional health benefits.
1) Weight Loss: Foods such as freekeh that are high in protein and fiber leave you more satisfied and keep you fuller longer. This generally leads you to consume less calories overall. Fiber rich diets are linked to lower body weight. Freekeh has three times the amount of fiber as brown rice and twice as much as quinoa, making it a smarter choice for filling up on fiber. Additionally, freekeh contains resistant starch, a type of carbohydrate which is like fiber. A helping of freekeh will leave you feeling satisfied longer, making it easier to lose unwanted weight.
2) Eye Health: Freekeh is a rich source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are associated with supporting vision and eye health. These antioxidants have been linked to preventing age-related macular degeneration. Serve up some tasty freekeh and your peepers will thank you later on.
3) Digestive Health: Try taming your tummy with a dish of Freekeh. Research indicates that freekeh may offer digestive health benefits. Due to its high fiber content, it may help promote regularity and lower your risk of developing diverticular disease. Freekeh also acts as a probiotic by increasing healthy bacteria in your digestive tract. Try dishing up freekeh with a bowl of yogurt for a probiotic rich meal. Note that freekeh is not gluten free, therefore it is not an option for those with celiac disease.
4) Combat Type Two Diabetes: The topic of grains for a diabetic diet can be a heated one. However, freekeh’s low glycemic index makes it an excellent choice for diabetes management. The resistant starch also has less of an impact on blood glucose than other types of carbohydrates.
5) Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease: High fiber diets are known to reduce the risk of heart disease. The high fiber content in freekeh make it an excellent choice for heart attack prevention.
Freekeh comes in both whole and cracked forms and is becoming increasingly available in grocery stores, health food stores and online. The cracked form cooks in about 20 minutes and is a great substitute for brown rice and barley in dishes like pilafs, risottos, cereals, soups, casseroles, and salads. Whole cooked freekeh tends to have a bit chewier texture, and pairs nicely with yogurt and fruit in a parfait.
Try tossing the grains in maple syrup or honey before layering them with the yogurt and fruit. Spark a new foodie craze among your friends.
Get your freek-eh on and bring this dish of freekeh to your next gathering.
Chilled Freekeh Salad
4 cups cooked freekeh
6 medium tomatoes 1 medium cucumber
1 small red bell pepper
1 cup fresh parsley
1 ¼ cups fresh mint
½ cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon French mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed Sea seat and black pepper
Dice all of the vegetables and herbs and combine them in a large bowl with the cooked freekeh. In a separate bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients and add it to the dressing. Mix the salad and dressing thoroughly and let stand for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator. For additional protein, try topping it with cooked chicken or salmon.