The next big grain, Freekeh, is like quinoa on steroids

Kevin Farrell

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Make some room in your pantry, because the next, buzzy supergrain has arrived. The time has come to get your freekeh on.


First of all, how do you pronounce it?

Free-kah, though it is also known as farik in some parts of the word. In other parts still, it’s simply called the King of Grains.

Got it. So what is it?

Freekeh is essentially a special type of wheat, first cultivated in the Middle East, that is also harvested and prepared for consumption using somewhat unusual methods for a grain. Freekeh wheat is harvested when it is underdeveloped and still green, before being roasted to remove the straw and chaff. Because the grain inside is still hard, green and full of moisture, it emerges from the fire relatively unscathed, albeit with a lightly smoked quality.

So it tastes like smoked wheat?

Sort of! Freekeh lovers say that it possesses a hearty, earthy taste akin to fire-roasted cashews. Even when cooked, it retains a chewy, slightly resistant texture, a bit like fellow buzzy grains farro and bulgar wheat. 

What’s so special about freekeh?

Even though this ancient grain has been cultivated for thousands of years in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean, it remains relatively unheard of in many other parts of the world. As such, farmers and manufacturers are pushing it today by comparing it to the most famous ancient supergrain of them all: quinoa.

Like quinoa, freekeh is loaded with both fiber and protein. It just has more of both – like, double the fiber, and a modestly higher protein count. A serving of freekeh also contains more than twice the daily recommended amount of zinc, and just shy of twice the daily amount of iron and copper. Along with sizeable amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium, and lutein (for healthy eye support) freekeh is packed to the gills with nutrients.

Because of freekeh’s unique fiber-protein combination, it can be used as an effective staple in a weight loss diet, as freekeh digests slowly, making you feel full for longer. And because of its low glycemic index, the energy produced by digesting freekeh is slowly released into the body.

What if I’m gluten-intolerant? Can I still eat freekeh?

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I love you freekeh. You’re freekin’ delicious ��. Recipe for the fluffiest most flavorful freekeh ever on story highlights. I served it topped it with coconut oil oven-roasted nuts & pan-fried chicken breasts (marinated beforehand with lemon, salt, & pepper). Side salad is yogurt, dried mint, crushed garlic, and chopped cucumber. . . . #freekeh #jordanianfood #beamman #kuwaitfood #arabicfood #middleeasternfood #ramadanonmytable #cleaneats #cleaneating #healthyfood #healthyeating #healthyfoodshare #foodblog #foodblogfeed #KSgram #shareyourtable #huffposttaste #buzzfeedfood #buzzfeast #myallrecipes #bonappetit #tasteofhome #gloobyfood #feedfeed #thekitchn #epicurious #TOHFoodie #imsomartha #heresmyfood #olivemeetscoconut

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Celiacs and gluten-intolerant pals, freekeh is unfortunately not for you. As a member of the wheat family, this grain is full of gluten. But it’s not all bad gut news for this grain.

Get this, freekeh is actually a natural prebiotic. That means that the beneficial bacteria and microorganism colonies that live in our digestive tracts actually thrive when exposed to freekeh in the gut. So while this grain is great for your body as a whole, it’s a downright fantastic meal for your body’s microflora.

It sounds promising. How can I get some into my diet?

Freekeh is a versatile grain. You can substitute it in any recipe calling for quinoa, rice or even pasta. It’s beginning to appear in boxed form on shelves next to other specialty grains, and can also usually be found in the self-serve bins in upmarket grocery stores like Whole Foods or Sprouts.

Freekeh pairs well with fresh citrus, as well as herbs, salty cheeses and even natural sugars like honey. As such, the internet is full of approachable freekeh recipes like salads, or creative breakfast preparations akin to oatmeal. Best of all, you can effortlessly cook freekeh in a rice cooker. Just make sure you use the brown rice setting.


Kevin Farrell

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