Move over brown rice and quinoa. There is a new super grain hitting our stovetops. Freekeh (pronounced Free-kah) is a process, which means to “rub” in Arabic. It is also the name of the new must-have super grain that was first discovered in the Middle East nearly 2,000 years ago. Freekeh is harvested before it is fully matured and still green. Then, it goes through an ancient tradition of artisanal hand roasting.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Troy DeSmet, the founder and president of Freekeh Foods. “Freekeh is good for us and good for the earth,” DeSmet said. Freekeh Foods grows the super grain on a 100% solar powered and water conscious farm in San Joaquin Valley, CA. It is certified organic which means it is also a non-GMO food product. DeSmet also explained: “freekeh takes 50% less water to grow than rice and 25% less water to grow than wheat. Our focus is on long-term sustainability for our food and farmers. Freekeh Foods is both farmer and employee owned.” DeSmet is very passionate about preserving the earth; so much that freekeh’s packaging comes from all natural plant sources. Before it is packaged, freekeh is fire roasted and cured, and then cleaned.
You can cook Freekeh on the stovetop or in a rice cooker (on the brown rice setting). When asked about his favorite way to enjoy this super grain, DeSmet answered, “al dente, with marinara sauce and grilled garlic rubbed chicken.” Now, that sounds like a nutritious and delicious meal.
What does this super grain with a funny name taste like? Freekeh has a pleasant nutty flavor and chewy texture similar to barley. When compared to brown rice it has three times the amount of protein and twice the amount of fiber. Freekeh is lower in fat and equal in protein and fiber to our other favorite super grain, quinoa.
As a complex carbohydrate, freekeh is a healthy alternative for those who have type 2 diabetes or need to lose weight. It is a versatile fuel source that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I was a little worried when we tried freekeh for the first time. My kids usually don’t jump at the chance to try a new ‘healthy’ food. I made it for dinner and topped it with sautéed spinach and baked pesto-crusted salmon. I described it as a healthier version of rice. Surprisingly, they seemed eager to give it a taste. Maybe it was the interesting name that intrigued them? Whatever the reason, my pickiest of eaters loved the flavor and chewy texture. We got our Freekeh on and you should too!