Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Freekeh

I was really surprised last week when I saw a new addition to the shelves of my local Market Basket’s rice and grains aisle: freekeh. I first read about freekeh, a young, green wheat that’s been toasted to bring out its flavor, a few weeks ago, but apparently I’m a little late to the game, as freekeh was predicted to be one of the top food trends of 2013, and it’s been around a lot longer than that – thousands of years, to be exact. Compared to most other whole grains, freekeh is higher in fiber, protein, and many vitamins and minerals. It also has a low glycemic index and is a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health. Freekeh takes about 20 minutes to cook on the stove, and it can be substituted for rice in most dishes. Here, I feature freekeh in two ways – as a side dish you can easily add to your next meal, and as a fun addition to a healthy dessert.

Triple-Herb Freekeh Salad

1 cup cracked freekeh
½ a small red onion, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Add 8 cups water and the freekeh to a medium saucepan and boil until tender, about 20 minutes. Strain.
2. Meanwhile, soak the onions in ice water in a small bowl for 10 minutes. Strain well.
3. Whisk together the onions, basil, dill, parsley, oil, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
4. Add the cooked freekeh and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
5. Transfer to a serving bowl and add the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Alternatively, serve chilled, adding an additional tablespoon of lemon juice just before serving.)

Recipe from Food Network  

Chocolate Freekeh Muffins

1 cup cooked freekeh
½ cup whole wheat flour
3 heaping teaspoons baking powder
2 cups almond milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons brown suga
Pinch of salt
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan.
3. Mix all the ingredients (except the chocolate chips) in the order they are listed until they are well-incorporated.
4. Pour into greased muffin pan and top with chocolate chips.
5. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Let cool to room temperature; muffins will taste sweeter as they cool. 

Recipe adapted from BlogHer


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