What might it be you ask? Well, it’s called freekeh, and it’s bound to be a hot, new trend in nutrition. Despite it just now rising in popularity, freekeh is an ancient grain, so it falls into the same category as rice, quinoa, rye, and barley, and its use in many Middle Eastern countries has been dated back centuries (Denny). It has a delicious, nutty flavor that pairs well with its chewy, yet tender texture, which makes it a great substitution for rice, which doesn’t offer nearly as much nutritional value (“Freekeh-Foods”).
Freekeh has a higher protein content, more vitamins and minerals, and a greater fiber content compared to some of the other ancient grains (“Freekeh-Foods”). Research shows that because this grain is harvested while it’s very young, it retains more nutritional value than those harvested later (Largeman-Roth). Some of the vitamins and minerals that are rich in this product include iron, magnesium, niacin, and vitamin B6 (Barbarese). Consuming fiber helps slow absorption of sugars into bloodstream, lower cholesterol, and aid in healthy digestion. The protein helps rebuild muscle and tissues, and this along with the fiber, will suppress your hunger until your next meal. Feeling full longer leads to less eating overall, which can aid in weight loss. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, there are several other health benefits from consuming this grain such as a lower risk of macular degeneration, diverticular disease, and more (Denny)!
Freekeh is not as easy to find as some grains, but most Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and sometimes local grocery stores will hold this item. Online websites are another great place to look, as well. Try this grain in soup, as a side to fish or other main dishes, or in a recipe of your own, or just use this one from Freekeh Foods:
- 1 8-ounce package cracked freekeh (approx 1 cup) (Original variety)
- 2 1/2 cups water (for richer flavor, try cooking in almond milk, or coconut milk)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons Earth Balance® or butter
Pour freekeh and liquid into a saucepan and bring to a boil for about 1 minute. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon and Earth Balance® or butter. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 25 minutes. Serve with fresh sliced fruit and top with nuts.
Options: You can also add a dollop of yogurt for extra protein and creaminess.
Denny, Sharon. “What is the Ancient Grain Freekeh?”. Eat Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. N.p. 31 Dec 2014. Web. 28 Mar 2015. < http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/freaky-about-freekeh>
Largeman-Roth Frances. “Freekeh—The Next Hot Supergrain”.Huffpost Healthy Living. N.p. 2 Nov 2013. Web. 28 Mar 2015. < http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frances-largemanroth/best-supergrains_b_3824822.html>
“What is Freekeh?”. Freekeh-Foods. Web. 28 Mar 2015. <http://www.freekeh-foods.com/>
Barbarese, Natalie. “Get to Know: Freekeh”. Whole Foods Market. N.p. 15 June 2014. Web. 28 Mar 2015. <http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/get-know-freekeh>