Freekeh: Middle Eastern Food's Hot Diet Trend
Q: Is freekeh one of the healthy grains? It's made from green durum wheat.
-- Stacy, via e-mail
A: Okay, we have to say it: We're freaky about freekeh (pronounced free-kah). This ricelike whole grain is made from immature or green wheat that is roasted to nutty perfection. It's a gift from the Bedouins, the seminomadic Middle Eastern tribe that also gave us fermented yogurt (kefir) and cracked wheat (bulgur). Thanks, guys.
Freekeh is higher in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin -- powerful vision protectors -- than mature grains. One small study also found that freekeh is a low-glycemic-index food that has as much as four times the fiber of brown rice, so it helps keep your blood sugar lower than your end of a teeter-totter with someone 80-pounds lighter on the other end. The same study also focused on, well, elimination. We won't go into how they came to these conclusions (the researcher's life is a weird lot), but it looks like this delicious grain may help prevent constipation, manage irritable bowel syndrome, and increase healthy bacteria in your digestive tract. It also has very little gluten, though we don't yet know if it's okay for celiac disease. Whole grains keep your arteries happy. Here's how.
You can substitute freekeh in recipes that call for rice, pasta, or barley, including Thanksgiving stuffing, which might let you "freekeh out" a little more during the year's biggest meal.