WHAT THE FREAK IS FREEKEH?

Sunday Mail - Body and Soul - - FRONT PAGE -

A SU­PE­RIOR WHEAT

What makes freekeh su­pe­rior to other wheat foods such as cous­cous or pasta? Firstly, the grains are picked green be­fore they’re fully ma­ture and then parched, roasted and dried, which re­sults in a nutty and smoky flavour. This process not only gives freekeh its unique flavour, it keeps the nutritional profi le of the young wheat mostly in­tact. n re­cent years, an elite team of nu­tri­ent-rich fruit, veg, dairy, meat, fish and an­cient grains have earned the ti­tle of “su­per­foods”. They’re packed with vi­ta­mins, min­er­als, an­tiox­i­dants, es­sen­tial fatty acids and other health-giv­ing prop­er­ties, and are said to pro­tect against disease and even help you live longer.

The lat­est grain to earn this ti­tle is freekeh (pro­nounced free-ka), a whole­grain wheat ce­real that’s been a sta­ple in the Mid­dle East for more than 2000 years, and is now a sta­ple of health-food stores.

IFreekeh means “to rub” in Ara­bic, and it’s made by roast­ing the young grains of du­rum wheat and thresh­ing them to “rub” away the chaff. What’s left is a toasted grain with a lovely earthy, nutty taste.

NU­TRI­ENT LOWDOWN

Be­cause the grains are still green when they’re har­vested, they con­tain more pro­tein, vi­ta­mins and min­er­als than ma­ture grains. Freekeh is high in cal­cium, iron, potas­sium, zinc and mag­ne­sium. It also con­tains four times the fi­bre of brown rice and more pro­tein than most grains. It has a low GI rat­ing of 43, mak­ing it a slow-re­lease en­ergy food that’s ideal for di­a­bet­ics or any­one on a low-GI diet.

HOW TO PRE­PARE IT

This ver­sa­tile grain is great as a side dish, a pro­tein-packed break­fast ce­real (see recipe be­low), served cold in sal­ads or as a sub­sti­tute for rice or pasta. The cook­ing process is sim­i­lar to rice: Af­ter be­ing brought to the boil, whole freekeh takes 40-45 min­utes; cracked takes 15-20 min­utes. Place freekeh and 21/ cups of wa­ter in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally. Re­duce heat, cover and sim­mer for 15-20 min­utes, or un­til the freekeh is ten­der.

Drain and serve in bowls topped with berries, ba­nana, seeds and nuts, cin­na­mon and co­conut cream.

Freekeh can be served hot or cold. This recipe is de­li­cious served as a cold ce­real in sum­mer, topped with sea­sonal fruit such as mango, pear, ap­ple or nec­tarines.

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