Move over, Quinoa — and make room for freekeh.

Freekeh (free-ka) is an ancient grain popular in the Middle East. Freekeh is the name of the process used to make it and not the name of a grain variety. It’s made from small immature spelt berries that are roasted over hot coals.

The word “freekeh” is Arabic, and means “to rub.” After roasting it is then “rubbed” to the chaff to release the interior seeds. It has been used in the Middle Eastern cuisine for more than 2,000 years.

Though it may sound exotic, it’s actually a great alternative to rice or other grains because of its nutty and chewy texture. Try substituting it in any recipe that calls for rice or quinoa.

Nutritional Value

With three times the amount of fiber and protein as brown rice, freekeh has been considered the next super food. It also has fewer carbohydrates than white and brown rice, and white pasta. Freekeh is a healthy choice for diabetics because of its low glycemic index. It’s low in calories and fat, and has high amounts of calcium.

Australian researchers report that because freekeh is harvested and roasted while green, it retains more protein, fiber and minerals than mature wheat.

To make freekeh:

In a sauce pan add 1 cup of freekeh to 2 cups of boiling water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover pan with lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes for cracked grain, or 40-45 minutes for whole grain.

Freekeh can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Added to soup, stuffing and salad

  • As a side dish tossed with fresh herbs

  • For breakfast as a hot cereal with fresh fruit

Here are some great recipes from Diabetic Connect where you could replace quinoa with freekeh.

Quinoa Black Bean Chili

Smoked Tofu Salad

Sesame-Honey Tempeh Bowl

As it’s gaining popularity in America, freekeh is becoming more available. You can find it at most specialty or natural grocery stores or online.
To learn more on this topic:
Low-Carb Recipes
Mediterranean Diet Helps Control Diabetes
How to Recognize a Carbohydrate