[Pronounced Freek-uh, or Freek-ay depending on how you’re feeling that day]
Freekeh is an extremely popular superfood that has resurfaced within the last couple years. It possibly has to do with an episode on Oprah in around 2010, where she talked about the benefits of this grain. Since then, the freekeh obsession has skyrocketed and it’s become one of the hottest health foods of the 21st century, metaphorically of course.
(I suggest turning on Chic’s “Le Freak” or Missy Elliot’s “Get your Freak On” to set the mood…)
What in the world is Freekeh?
Originally from the middle east, it has been used as a staple in meals for centuries. Now it has made its way overseas and is used by Americans on the daily. Freekeh is actually wheat that has been harvested while still green. Afterwards, it is roasted with either a type of blow torch or an oven in order to burn the chaff off. Once charred, the wheat is put into a thresher where the chaff is shaken and rubbed off. With the chaff gone, you’re left with the firm young grain ready to be packaged.
What makes it different?
I know what you’re thinking: “It’s just wheat, what makes it so special?” Well, let me tell you. The fact that it’s still young while harvested makes a huge difference. The texture is chewier and ends up resembling a barley or brown rice dish. The taste is smokey, nutty, earthy, with a sweet grassy finish. And get this, it has three times as much protein as brown rice and twice as much fiber. Meaning, it contains 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per ¼ cup. This makes it a superb choice for vegetarians and vegans! Because of its low fat, high fiber, and protein levels, it makes for a healthy, yet delectable, meal for weight loss and regulating blood sugar. Plus, it is overflowing with vitamins like Iron, Calcium, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Zinc. The wheat also acts as a probiotic which promotes a healthy gut and produces good bacteria.
The only inconvenience is because it’s wheat, it is not gluten free…cue the sad violins.
But if you’re able to eat wheat, then it is a pretty ideal food if you ask me.
How do you cook it?
It’s pretty easy actually, it can just be plopped in a rice cooker and put on the brown rice setting, or it can be cooked on a stovetop. It only takes around 15-20 min for cracked freekeh to cook. For whole Freekeh, it takes around 45 min. To prepare, usually you want around a 2 to 1 water to Freekeh ratio, so it’s up to you what liquid to use, some options are: chicken, beef, vegetable broth, or water. Many people add it to pilafs, risottos, or even use it as granola to top your yogurt with maple syrup drizzled on top. Or it can be used as a side to top with fish, chicken, or veggies.
Go check it out and get your Freekeh on!