January 26th, 2009

Dig In: Make it Freekeh, Baby

Freekeh Hot Cereal

Maybe it’s the funny name that caught my eye. Or the fact that this young green durum wheat looks so damn healthy. (And, as it turns out, IS so damn healthy.) Either way, I grabbed the package of Freekeh off of the Trader Joe’s shelf faster than you can throw this grain into soup for a well-rounded meal.

Freekeh has a great nutty flavor with a pleasant, mild smokiness that makes it a great accompaniment to meat. (I haven’t tried it with lamb yet, but am sure they’re a great match.) Freekeh is also hearty in a way that makes it a nice substitute for meat in soups and stews. So far, I’ve thrown it into butternut squash soup and a chickpea spinach curry—Isaac (and I) loved both.

So what’s the scoop on Freekeh?

What’s the scoop?
An ancient food dating back to 2300 BC popular in Arab cooking, Freekeh is a durum wheat harvested before it has fully matured, while the seeds are still soft. The wheat is sundried and set on fire. The stem and chaff burn off while the seeds, still full of moisture, get nicely roasted. Then they are sundried again, cracked, and rubbed, which is how this nutritious grain gets its name (farik means “rubbed” in Arabic).

Trader Joe’s offers a nicely chewy Freekeh that’s fully cooked and ready to heat. Traditionally, though, Freekeh comes dried and requires cooking in liquid until tender (1 part dried freekeh to 2 parts liquid).

How is it good for us?
Because freekeh is harvested while young, it is higher in protein, vitamins, and minerals than other grains:

  • Particularly rich in iron, zinc, potassium, and calcium (source: Star Foods by Dr. Joanna M. Price)
  • Naturally sodium free
  • Packed with fiber (some sources say up to 4x that in brown rice)
  • Low glycemic index (with excellent insulin response, which makes it a diabetic-friendly food)
  • High carb, but low sugar, a super combo. Don’t be scared of the carbs—there is evidence that diets rich in low-sugar grains and legumes are linked with lower body mass index and lower risk of overweight (Source: heavy duty research from the University of Wollongong in AU)

Freekeh Hot Cereal
(can be adapted for wheat-eating kids 10+ mos)

1 cup organic apple cider (pear and apricot nectar work, too)
¼ cup chopped organic dried fruits
½ cup chopped fresh, organic apple (or pear)
1 tsp grated fresh, organic ginger
¼ tsp ground, organic cinnamon
1/8 cup ground organic flaxseed (optional)
¼ cup organic, whole milk yogurt (optional)
¼ cup chopped walnuts or almonds (optional; skip for kids younger than one-year-old and/or with suspected allergy or family history of nut allergies)

1. Simmer freekeh, dried fruit, apple, ginger and cinnamon in cider over medium heat until dried fruit plumps and the mixture thickens to a porridge consistency.

2. Take off heat and stir in flaxseed.

3. Serve warm topped with whole milk yogurt and nuts.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you, very useful. I wasnt really a big fan of Spinach for many years ( understatement, I hated the stuff), but after shacking up with a vegetarian I kind of had to put up with it, and have slowly come to totally love the stuff. Spinach curry is now my absolute favouritest! I recently found an entire spinach recipes website which is my new favourite site now, you should take a look!

  2. Lighten up, people! No one is perfect! Being a parent can be hard, so let’s support each other instead of ripping into each other!

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