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Meet Freekeh: The New Must-Try Super Grain

April 13, 2014

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Tired of rice? Bored with barley?  Does even quinoa or teff seem passé? If so, we'd like to introduce you to freekeh. Pronounced freek-ah, this little super grain is new to the West, but has actually been around for thousands of years. In fact, it was discovered in the Eastern Mediterranean region around 2300 BCE, and has been a favorite crop in Australia for many years. It’s only recently begun to pop up in U.S. health food stores, prompting many people to ask the question: So what is freekeh?

Unlike its celebrity sister, quinoa, freekeh is wheat, so it’s not advisable for folks with celiac disease. However, because it’s harvested while still young and green, it contains less gluten than other grains and may be easier for those with gluten intolerance to digest, according to Australian studies. This early harvesting also means that freekeh retains key nutrients and fiber, making it super nutritious.

The flavor of freekeh is very unique. The grains are roasted, which creates a nice crunchy texture and nutty flavor, different from any other common grains.

Now that you know what it is, you may be asking yourself why you should add freekeh to your pantry. Well, here are just a few of the many reasons :

  • Freekeh is bursting with minerals, including calcium, iron, zinc and potassium.
  • Like quinoa, freekeh is a quick-cooking grain. Cook time is about 20 minutes, making it an excellent time-saving swap for brown rice, farro, or other longer-cooking seed and grain options.
  • Freekeh is tasty hot or cold and is a perfect ingredient in many dishes, including breakfast. I personally can't wait to try it out in this Middle Eastern tabbouleh, or even a Mexican chili!
  • The resistant starch and high fiber in freekeh will help keep you feeling satiated, making it excellent for those looking to lose weight.
  • Freekeh is low on the glycemic index, meaning it slowly turns into glucose in the bloodstream, making it an excellent choice for those who need to keep their blood sugar in check.
  • Young wheat has been proven to maintain more protein than wheat harvested at a later stage. Research is showing that freekeh may have two to three times more protein than quinoa and brown rice, so vegans and vegetarians can rejoice at finding a new source of the essential macronutrient! 

Although freekeh may be slightly hard to find now, I suspect it will continue to show up in more grocery stores as it becomes more widely known. For now, you can order it online or find it in the bulk section of Whole Foods or other natural foods stores.  

Have you tried freekeh? We'd love to hear how you're using it! Tell us in the comments below!