Updated: Aug 1, 2021
(Printable recipe below)
When it comes to whole grains,
getting the most nutritional bang for your buck is important. Compared to processed grains like white rice and white flour, whole grains have way more fibre and protein, and often higher in B vitamins, iron, copper, zinc and magnesium.
My favourites are pearl barley, quinoa, buckwheat and bulgur, but recently I discovered freekeh (pronounced free-kah). Both bulgur and freekeh are produced from wheat (so not gluten free). So, what’s the difference? Bulgur is the fully ripened wheat, whereas freekeh is the young green wheat.
After harvesting, freekeh is smoked or roasted which gives it the most delicious smoky nutty flavour and is slightly chewier than bulgur.
Wait until you read these nutritional benefits! While freekeh yields a similar energy to other whole grains (around 1400-1500 kj / 100 grams), it has triple the fibre of quinoa (YES TRIPLE), double the protein and half the carbohydrates of brown rice. This CSIRO analysis reports that cracked freekeh (the type most available is stores) has a low glycaemic index of 55 and a low insulin response making it a great choice for diabetics. Freekeh is high in zinc (great for cell strength and immune function) and iron. Note that any iron from a plant source is called non-heme iron and is harder to absorb than an animal source. But you can boost its absorption by having with a vitamin C source, like tomatoes. Freekeh also has calcium, magnesium and soooo much fibre. Did I mention the fibre? TRIPLE the fibre of quinoa and TEN times that of brown rice. I guarantee your gut will thank you.
Let’s get you started with a simple freekeh salad! The nutrition breakdown will differ depending on your chosen ingredients but this is a good guide. As always, if you can use home made stock, but in this case I only had store bought stock available. That said I always opt for low sodium stock.
This is one of those simple recipes where it's great to make it your own. It's a perfect accompaniment to fish or marinated chicken or any rich dish that needs a light and zingy side. Really you can add any chopped veg such as peas or corn kernels for the extra veg count. But I do recommend including a vitamin C rich veg such as the tomatoes or capsicum to aid with the iron absorption. Depending on the tastes of your family, you can add different herbs such as coriander or chopped chilli! The options are endless.
Prep Time: 10 mins Cooking Time: 30 mins
1. Rinse freekeh grains in a sieve under running water and transfer to saucepan.
2. Add stock to saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 mins until grains are tender.
3. Drain freekeh and allow to cool to room temperature.
4. Combine cooled freekeh in a large bowl with lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, pepitas, cucumber and tomatoes.
5. If needed, season with salt & pepper to taste. Transfer to a large salad bowl and garnish with a sprig of parsley & a couple of lemon slices. Enjoy!
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