If you’re sensitive or intolerant of gluten…stop reading. Freekah is wheat that’s harvested prior to ripeness and it’s not going to be the right option if you require (or prefer) a gluten-free diet.
For everyone else, put down your quinoa for a minute and check this out.
The benefits of freekeh has been around for thousands of years in the Mediterranean (the birthplace of so many delicious superfoods). Yeah, the really good stuff has been hiding in plain sight for millennia and suddenly it’s absolutely everywhere. It’s the latest food craze taking the nutrition and health industries by storm.
Thank you, Internet.
Technically, it’s pronounced free-kah (so we’re not stumbling around for a year trying to figure it out like everyone did with quinoa) but I’ll still pronounce it freek-eh because I can and it makes me giggle.
Packed with nutrition (like quinoa and bulgur wheat) and with a texture that lends itself to pasta dishes (much like a risotto that’s actually good for you), freekeh is fighting for the top position in the “grains we’re allowed to eat” competition.
Nutritional Benefits of Freekeh
A serving is 1¼ cup and has about 130 calories and offers a ton of fiber (double what quinoa has to offer), excellent protein content, calcium, iron, zinc, and manganese. That makes those 130 “satisfying” calories that make you feel fuller for longer (helped along by the resistant starch carbs found in this awesome grain).
Low in fat, sodium, and sugar, this ancient grain is already hitting the weight loss sites. The fiber acts as a prebiotic, feeding the good bacteria in your gut, stimulating the growth of more, and aiding in better digestion and overall vitamin absorption.
Freekeh contains phosphorus – the second most common element in your body and present in all your cells (especially in your teeth and bones). This is one of those things that few people ever talk about but everyone needs. Kind of the way vitamin D was a few years ago.
Phosphorus makes up 1% of your total body weight and it isn’t just hanging out adding pounds. It’s responsible for how your body burns fat, works with the range of B vitamins to regulate energy, and has a direct impact on kidney function, heart health, and your central nervous system. It helps to maintain fluid balance and helps in the development of your DNA.
The experts say most of us get enough phosphorus in our diet (dairy, seafood, meat, pumpkin seeds, lentils, and cacao are other great sources). However, excessive alcohol consumption and malnutrition disrupt your supply of phosphorus. It should be noted that dark sodas contain phosphoric acid so if you drink a lot of those (and I really hope you don’t), chances are high that you’re actually getting too much of this element. Get your phosphorus in good stuff!
Freekeh has very little sugar and has an outstanding ranking on the glycemic index – especially for grains. That means the freekeh benefits are released a little at a time rather than all at once. Such a trait helps you avoid an insulin spike and maintain consistent energy levels all day long.
An excellent source of two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, foods like freekeh help to protect your eyes from age-related macular deterioration.
Versatility Benefits of Freekeh
If you like brown rice, you can substitute freekeh. If you regularly make risotto (I don’t because I get distracted and it ends up sticky), you’ll love the flavor and texture of freekeh. Anywhere you’ve used quinoa since it hit every major health site in the world, try freekeh instead.
Pretty much all your rice, pasta, barley, bulgur wheat, or oat dishes…get freekeh with it!
The flavor has been described as “nutty” and “smoky” so it’s definitely a great choice for soups or casseroles.
You don’t have to ditch the quinoa and brown rice but…aren’t you a little sick of using them after the last year of being everywhere? I’m ready to try something new and it looks like the benefits of freekeh are right up my alley. I like that it cooks in under 20 minutes.
I found it in Whole Foods as well as at some of my favorite online retailers for about $3.00 for half a pound. Comparable to the price of quinoa when it first hit the market. I have no doubt that it will become more readily available in the next year or two.
If you’ve been searching for another healthy grain, go with the young vitality of freekeh. The flavor, versatility, and nutrition are going to win you over! Bonus: you get to tell your family you got “freekeh” with dinner (as long as you pronounce it wrong like I do).
Reed, M. (July 4, 2014). Freekeh: Is This The New Quinoa? Marie Claire.
Freekeh: The grain that combats type 2 diabetes and boosts overall health. (June 3, 2014). Natural News.
What Is Freekeh? (n.d.). Freekeh-Foods.com.
Dunn, K. (Sept 18, 2014). Meet Freekeh, The Supergrain That Might End Your Relationship With Quinoa. Greatist.
Largeman-Roth, F. (Sept 2, 2013). Freekeh — The Next Hot Supergrain. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.