Freekeh, the ‘new’ healthy grain you have to try
The reason.... this green wheat goes above and beyond in the nutrition department and offers not only nutrients but also a variety of heath benefits. Freekeh is amazing an ancient grain, packed with protein, calcium and fiber.The versatility and ease of using freekeh in new and old recipes is extremely appealing to consumers. It’s delicious in soups, salads and casseroles. You can also try it for breakfast as a hot cereal dressing it with nuts and honey or as a parfait that’s layered with yogurt and fruit in the same way you might eat granola or oats. Freekeh is available as “whole” or “whole grain” and as “cracked.”
Long recognized as a staple in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, freekeh has broken into the American market as part of the burgeoning interest in whole and ancient grains. Freekeh is fire roasted green wheat, harvested when the wheat is immature. Freekeh in Aramaic means “to rub” referring to the technique by which freekeh is made. Once the freekeh is roasted, the wheat is rubbed to reveal the kernel.
Cracked Grain Freekeh is similar in texture to bulgar wheat.
So what makes the grain better when harvested young? The simple answer…everything. The protein content is higher and the protein quality is better. The protein quality means that the protein is more easily digestible. One serving of freekeh (1/4 cup – raw) contains 8 grams of protein. It also contains plenty of fiber – 4 times the fiber of brown rice. For those managing diabetes, freekeh has a low glycemic index and has an excellent insulin response rate.
Wholegrain Freekeh is similar to a wheat berry in size and texture.
The young grains also have much less ‘available carbs.’ Available carbs in freekeh are in the order of about 40% or vs. about 65% in the same grain at maturity. Most of the carbs in freekeh are in the highly desirable form of fiber and Resistant Starch (RS). The impact of this fiber and RS combination is significant on bowel health. Research by the CSIRO and the Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) show that the consumption of freekeh is not only beneficial for all bowel health indices, but also leads to the increased production in the colon of an important short chain fatty acid called butyrate. Research shows that an in- creased production of butyrate equates to reduced incidence of bowel cancer.
Freekeh health benefits
There are many other health benefits to freekeh which range from a strong prebiotic effect to high content of calcium, iron and lutein. Besides the nutritional value, the grain has a wonderfully slightly smoky, nutty flavor and is a great substitute for rice, couscous, and quinoa. Freekeh is available as “whole” or “whole grain” and as “cracked.” The cracked is similar in texture to bulgur wheat; the whole grain to wheat berries in size and texture. Cooking freekeh is just like cooing rice and other grains. Whole freekeh will need to cook for about 40-45 minutes, whereas cracked freekeh will need only about 20-25 minutes.
Freeken is amazing an ancient grain, packed with protein, calcium and fiber
Freekehlicious is the premier U.S. importer of Greenwheat Freekeh™, a product of Australia. Produced from top quality green Australian GMO-free grains, the proprietary process not only determines when the grain is ready to be picked but also immobilizes the enzymes at the peak nutritional point. The result is a product that is superior in health and nutrition.
Freekeh is available as "whole" or "whole grain" and as "cracked"
Cooking with freekeh
Freekeh(licious) Vegetarian Meatballs
yields 26 small
1 cup un-cooked cracked Freekeh(licious) (yields approximately 3 cups cooked)
2½ cups water
1 small potato, grated
1 medium onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
¾ cup plain or Italian bread crumbs
¾ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
3 eggs, whisked
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil for brushing
In a large saucepan add the water and freekeh. Bring to a boil, stir and immediately turn down to low simmer. Stir and cover with a lid. Cook for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and let cool. Drain any excess water through a sieve.
This step can be made a day or two ahead. Keep cooked freekeh refrigerated in an air-tight container.
Once the freekeh is cooled down add all the ingredients, except the olive oil, mix well and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 400F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and brush each one with one tablespoon of olive oil.
Scoop 1 heaping tablespoon of mixture and gently form a meatball in between the palms of your hands. Do not apply pressure. Line each cookie sheet with 13 meatballs each.
You can put one cookie sheet in the middle rack of the oven and one at the bottom rack and cook for 20 minutes or until deeply golden. The meatballs at the bottom will cook faster. Flip with a heat resistant spatula and continue baking for 5-10 minutes longer or until golden on the flipped side. Take bottom tray out and check the one in the middle. Move it to the bottom rack, if needed, and cook a few minutes longer until meatballs are golden.
Serve over pasta or as an appetizer with marinara sauce.
Recipe courtesy of Freekhelicious http://www.freekehlicious.com
Photo: Shulie Madnick, recipe developer http://www.foodwanderings.com