Get your Freekeh on! An alternative grain you should try tonight!

Growing up, my mom made freekeh and we enjoyed it with chicken or lamb. It was an alternative to rice in our home. I loved eating it with a tzatziki or a plain yogurt sauce. We enjoyed this dish accompanied by a side salad made with tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper and fresh squeezed lemon. The crunchiness of the toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts was the perfect balance to the soft and floaty texture of the freekeh. It was also one of my favorite dishes that my grandmother prepared for us when we visited our family in Jordan.

Traditionally, freekeh is harvested in the spring and is made from harvesting young green wheat berries; the grains, which are soft and have a high water content, are sun-dried, roasted, and thrashed or rubbed, giving the grains their trademark chewy texture and smoky, nutty flavor.

In fact, freekeh comes from the Arabic word farik, which means rubbed. Traditional dishes used freekeh in place of rice in pilafs, often accompanied by almonds, pine nuts and herbs or spices (cumin, cinnamon, allspice, mint, and parsley are common). Often, it’s combined with roasted meats like lamb and chicken; the addition of vegetables makes it a well-rounded meal.

The health benefits of freekeh are tremendous. With four times the fiber of brown rice, it also has a  low GI so this is a  great grain for those trying to manage or prevent diabetes and/or blood sugar stabilization. It is also high in protein making this anther health double-doer if you are on The 1:1:1 Diet.  This power-packed grain is high in iron, calcium, and zinc, and acts like a prebiotic, promoting the growth of good bacteria in your digestive system. Note however, that it is not a gluten-free grain.

Here are a 2 delicious and simple recipes from one of my favorite websites- www.MarthaStewart.com.

Freekeh with Caramelized Shallots, Chickpeas, and Yogurt

Freekeh with Caramelized Shallots, Chickpeas, and Yogurt

Freekeh with Roasted Butternut Squash, Seared Kale, and Caramelized Onion Jam

Freekeh with Roasted Butternut Squash, Seared Kale, and Caramelized Onion Jam