FREAKY ABOUT FREEKEH
Freekeh is an old grain. It’s been enjoyed for centuries in countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. Now freekeh (pronounced “free-kah”) is gaining popularity in American kitchens, particularly for its nutritional punch. Compared to other grains, it is higher in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and lower in glycemic index.
What Is It?
Freekeh is made from young wheat (typically durum) that is harvested while still green and put through a roasting and rubbing process during production. It has a smoky, nutty flavor and a firm, chewy texture similar to bulgur. It’s versatile and easy to work with in the kitchen.
Freekeh cooks in 20 minutes and can easily be substituted for rice or couscous in a meal, and can be enjoyed as a cereal, in the form of puddings, in soups, casseroles or even enjoyed as a pilaf/side dish.
Alternating your rice with freekeh could come with some additional health benefits:
- It might help you lose weight: Freekeh has four times the amount of fiber as brown rice. And research shows that a fiber-rich diet is linked to lower body weight.
- It could protect your eyes: Freekeh is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin both of which have been positively associated with prevention of age-related macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids (a type of antioxidant) that promote eye health.
- It may tame your tummy: Emerging research suggests that freekeh may offer benefits to digestive health. Like other high fiber foods, it may help prevent constipation and lower risk of developing diverticular disease. It can also act like a prebiotic to increase healthy bacteria in your digestive tract.
Freekeh can be found at ethnic stores and is becoming more available in health food stores and supermarkets.
*One thing to keep in mind, however, is that freekeh is not gluten-free, and therefore not safe for celiacs. It may fit into a diabetes meal plan, but it’s best to consult with your registered dietitian or health practitioner first.