It’s a bit disingenuous to call freekeh the latest grain du jour. After all, it’s been around for thousands of years! But the Middle Eastern wheat product is finally getting the spotlight it has long deserved. The wheat product is a nutritional powerhouse, better for you in many ways than even quinoa or brown rice. So what is the stuff, and why is it the latest and greatest superfood? Read on for everything you need to know about freekeh.
What is It? Freekeh is underripe (green) wheat that is picked, sun-dried and roasted. The latter is what gives it its unique “smoky” flavor.
How Do You Even Say, “Freekeh?” FREE-keh. Not so hard!
What Makes it So Healthy?
- It’s loaded with fiber — more than double the fiber in quinoa, and over three times the amount in brown rice. That’s a lot of healthy, ultra-filling fiber.
- It also contains resistant starch, a carb that behaves like a fiber, and, like fiber, keeps you full.
- It has plenty of protein, more so than other grains.
- It’s easy on your stomach. New research suggests that high fiber foods help ease constipation and lowers your risk of developing diverticular disease.
- What little fat it does have is of the heart-healthy variety.
- It promotes eye health. Freekeh contains two different antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, that help protect your eyes.
Who Should Eat Freekeh?
Trying to lose weight? Freekeh is the ideal option for you, because the fiber and protein fill you up on a per-calorie basis better than other similar foods.
Diabetic? Low on the glycemic index, it’s a good option for people with diabetes.
Vegan or Vegetarian? Freekeh is an excellent animal-free source of protein.
Who Shouldn’t Eat it? People with Celiac’s gluten intolerance, or gluten sensitivity. It’s wheat, plain and simple.
Where Can I Find It? Freekeh is gaining in popularity in the U.S., so its availability is increasing outside of organic, specialty and ethnic grocers. I’ve seen it at a few well-stocked “mainstream” supermarkets here in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well.
How Do You Make It? Like you would make rice, but in half the time. Bring 1 part freekeh and 3 parts water to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
How Do You Use It? Like you would barley, quinoa or brown rice: in breakfast cereals, in pilafs and risottos, in salads, in stuffed veggies, in soups and stews, you name it!
Want Freekheh Recipes? We’ll be featuring some next month!
Image Credit: Kristen Taylor via Flickr