I love a good story of rising above adversity and finding beauty in the challenges of life, the ingenuity of making use of what is at hand to nourish life and community. The legend of freekeh (or farik) is just such a story. This nutritionally dense staple originated in the Middle East and Mediterranean and is traditional in Levantine and North African cuisine. According to legend, as far back as the year 2300 BC a Syrian city was under siege and its early wheat crop was burned. The villagers, facing famine after the war, collected the burned stalks and realized that the green grains were intact inside the charred hull. They threshed and rubbed away the hulls and chaff and salvaged the roasted green kernels. The result was delicious! From a devastating loss came a delectable new delicacy.
Because it is minimally processed, freekeh retains the full fiber and protein of the plant. It is a good source of healthy carbohydrate for those managing impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes, as the high fiber content mitigates blood sugar levels, preventing spikes. We call foods that have this ability low glycemic foods. Freekeh is naturally high in protein, fiber, iron and manganese and has a pleasant smoky nutty flavor that is excellent in savory salads and pilafs.
Click this link to try freekeh yourself with my Lemon Mint Freekeh Salad with Summer Berries!
Written by Ann C. Collins, MD, RYT
Photo Credit (Lemon Mint Salad): Ann C. Collins, MD, RYT