Rediscovering the Ancient Grain

Although a common food staple in Middle Eastern and North African countries, freekeh is still unfamiliar to many living in Europe and the US, according to wellness media outlet mindbodygreen.

Freekeh, derived from the Arabic word “rub”, comes from durum wheat, a popular hard wheat variety used for pastas. The durum wheat is harvested young while it is still green and moist. After harvesting, the grain remains in its hulls and is burnt. The resulting toasted grain is what is known as freekeh. 

Historically, preparing freekeh was thought to have been done as a way to save on crop supply by harvesting the wheat early. However, the product is a tasty grain with a smoky undertone, nutty aroma and a great chewy texture.  

There are many ways to add freekeh into one’s diet and there are many reasons why one should, as this New York Times freekeh, chickpea and herb salad recipe article explains. 

Nutritional value as well as taste
Mindbodygreen writes that for one quarter-cup serving, freekeh offers a very low calorie and fat intake (140 and 1 gram) and is high in fiber and protein (4 g and 5 g), which promotes energy, healthy digestion and satiation, leading to overall wellness. 

Freekeh is an ideal grain for those managing their blood sugar or cholesterol because of its low glycemic index and high fiber content. It also works as a prebiotic, a substance that acts as a food for good bacteria, promoting healthy gut microbiota.  

Cooking freekeh is as easy as making rice
Freekeh is similar to other grains like rice and quinoa and can be cooked over a stovetop or in a pressure cooker with a suggested ratio of 2.5 cups (591 ml) of liquid for every 1 cup (201 grams) of dried freekeh. The grain should then simmer over the fire for around 20-25 minutes. 

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In a pressure cooker, the suggested ratio is 1⅔ (375 ml) cups of liquid and to set the cooker on “multigrain” or “high pressure” for ten minutes. And just like rice, it can be served hot or cold and with any seasoning or sauce. It can also be used as a perfect salad topper instead of nuts. 

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Where to find freekeh
Popular in markets in several parts of the world, freekeh may still be a challenge to find in supermarkets but is often found in health stores.  Mindbodygreen’s experts have spotted the grain in several local supermarkets. And if it’s not in any local store, then buying online is always an option as there are several freekeh companies dedicated to providing the grain globally. 

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