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What’s Old becomes New Again

Posted: July 17, 2013

Freekeh, an ancient grain, is quickly gaining popularity in American grocery and health food stores. Countries in the Middle East, such as Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt have cultivated Freekeh, for centuries. Freekeh, pronounce “free-kah”, is gaining popularity because of its nutritional punch. It may soon replace Quinoa as the grain power food.

Freekeh literally means “to rub.” Young green wheat berries, usually Durum, are harvested and put through a roasting and rubbing process which results in a product known as Freekeh. The end result is a grain which is smoky and nutty in flavor, while firm and chewy in texture. Similar to bulgur, Freekeh is versatile and easy to cook. Much like rice, using a 2:1 water grain ratio, it cooks in twenty minutes and can easily be substituted for rice, bulgur or couscous.

Why add Freekeh to your diet? There are lots of health benefits to this ancient grain:

  • Weight Loss-Freekeh is rich in fiber, up to 4 times more than brown rice! Diets high in fiber result in greater satiety. Since fiber fills you up and keeps you feeling full longer, weight loss may result.
  • Greater Eye health- high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been positively associated with the prevention of age-related macular degeneration.
  • Taming of the tummy-emerging research suggests that Freekeh may contribute to digestive health. Because of its high fiber content, it may help prevent constipation and lower the risk of developing diverticular disease. In addition, it may act like a prebiotic to increase healthy bacteria in your digestive tract.
  • Rich in the following nutrients: selenium, potassium, zinc, iron and magnesium. An excellent source of protein makes it a good food source for vegetarians.
  • Caution - because it is a wheat product, it is not gluten free. Those with Celiac disease should not add this food item to their dietary repertoire.

One serving of Freekeh (1/4 cup raw) will provide the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 130
  • Fat: trace amounts
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fiber: 4 grams

Want to try Freekeh? Give this Tabouli dish a try.

Freekeh tabouli recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Freekeh
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup quality olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped fine
  • 3 green onions, chopped small
  • about 16 cherry tomatoes, chopped or 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • sea or kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  • Prepare Freekeh according to package instructions, draining well. Allow Freekeh to cool slightly, and then toss with olive oil and lemon juice.
  • Combine Freekeh with chopped parsley, mint, basil and green onions until well mixed. Add tomatoes and season generously (don't skimp!) with salt and pepper.
  • Tabouli is always best when it has time to sit before serving, to allow the flavors to really blossom.
  • Toss again just before serving, and you may want to take a quick taste to adjust the seasoning, if needed.

Recipe courtesy of Jolinda Hackett, About.com Guide.