Ok guys, this is something totally new. It's my first giveaway - how exciting for all of us :) A quick disclosure: I'm a Sweat Pink Ambassador, which provides me the opportunity to try out new products in exchange for a review. However, all opinions are 100% mine. If I don't like a product, you'll know it (honestly, have I ever been one to withhold my opinion?!).
My first review comes from Freekeh Foods. First, let's talk a little bit about freekeh. Yes, it sounds suspiciously like "freaky", which makes it a whole lot more fun to say than "wheat". But it is a form of wheat - an ancient grain form to be exact. The grain comes from the Middle East. According to the legend, a young wheat crop was set on fire, and the villagers tried to salvage the crop by rubbing off the char. They loved the result.
From this tale, we get some of the basics. The word freekeh comes from the Arabic farīk meaning “rubbed.” Also, freekeh is harvested as young, green wheat and then roasted for a nutty or slightly smokey flavor. It is sold both whole and cracked, with the main difference being that cracked freekeh cooks faster.
I love having another option for whole grains. I mean, you can only eat so much brown rice and quinoa, right?! Hopefully you've already incorporated some other whole grain options, but this is definitely one to try when you need to get out of your rut.
When compared to other whole grains, freekeh is higher in protein and fiber for the calories, with 6g of protein and 4g of fiber per 130 calories (1/4 cup). See the chart below for a side-by-side comparison to other grains. The serving size is 1/4 cup of dry or uncooked grain.
The nutritional qualities make freekeh a winner, for sure. However, since freekeh comes from the wheat plant, it is not gluten-free. Something to keep in mind for those of you who have Celiac or gluten sensitivities.
Now let's talk culinary uses. Because if it's not easy, and it doesn't taste good, it doesn't matter how "good" it is for you, right?! As a whole grain, freekeh is pretty easy to cook. Just as easy but less time than brown rice - bring the grain and water to a boil, let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
The flavor is nutty and earthy, with a chewier texture. It's most similar to bulgur or wheat berry, in my opinion. It's nice and hearty, so it's the perfect grain to throw into soups or stews, to use in a veggie burger, a grain salad (tabbouleh would be awesome), etc.
With my samples from Freekeh Foods, I wanted to try it au naturale to get an idea of how versatile it really is, and how much doctoring it requires to be enjoyed. Turns out, it's quite delicious with very little effort. I got to try the Rosemary Sage and the Original flavors. My favorite thing about the rosemary sage variety is that it was flavored without a bunch of added crap. The ingredients? Organic cracked roasted green wheat, organic rosemary, organic sage, sea salt. And the sodium content was still reasonable (150 mg per serving).
I made a quick side by adding sauteed onion and summer squash to the cooked package of rosemary sage freekeh. I served it alongside of some chicken sausage and roasted potatoes. I would have taken a photo of it, but the plate was not Instagram-worthy at all - too many shades of yellow and brown. However, it was delicious and husband approved! Some fresh parsley or subbing zucchini for summer squash would have amped up the color palate a little.
I also cooked up the original flavor to use for a few purposes. I wanted to have it for breakfast in parfait form with yogurt and fruit. I also thought that it would make a nice lunch or dinner with some frozen spinach, cheese and a poached egg. The breakfast recipe on Freekeh Foods' website recommended cooking in milk, cinnamon and vanilla which I thought sounded amazing. But not with my spinach, cheese and egg. Cooking it in broth for that use would be a great idea. Since I was splitting it among two options, I just cooked it in water. Still yummy, have no fear.
The recipe is below. Let me know what you think.
Now it's your turn. Want to try some freekeh? Enter the giveaway below. The winner will be announced on the blog next Tuesday, 8/8, so be sure to check back in!