Freekeh: the UK’s new superfood, what you need to know

This ancient greenwheat boasts impressive nutritional credentials, including lots of protein, fibre and “prebiotic” qualities – and was discovered after a crop fire long ago

Prawn and freekeh salad recipe idea

The new superfood making footsteps into our health and food shops is freekeh: a cracked greenwheat meaning “to rub” in Arabic. Created by accident many years ago after a Middle Eastern village’s crops were set on fire, the villagers then rubbed off the char and here we are now.

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Currently popularly in the US and Australia, it is something else to add into your porridge in the morning alongside your flax seed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, honey, and all types of dried fruit; the super grain boasts nutritional benefits and is a versatile substance with a smoky flavour that you can add into all sorts of recipes.

So why should you add yet another foreign superfood into your diet?

Well… it’s high in fibre and low in carbs, it has more protein per 100g than a boiled egg; it has four times the amount of fibre than brown rice and almost twice the amount of protein than white rice.

Loaded with protein, it should keep you fuller for longer and it has been shown to possess prebiotic properties: meaning it fuels healthy bacteria to help digestion. It can help to control blood sugar levels—playing a role in weight management. It is free of genetically modified organisms making it almost completely natural, and it is rich in iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc.

Sounds good? Research was carried out1 on the grain and showed that compared to similar diets including white rice or couscous, the diet containing freekeh showed differences in metabolic, and bacteriological rates associated with a reduced risk of developing some degenerative bowel diseases including colorectal cancer.

The grain is a cracked greenwheat, which means it has a softer texture and quicker cooking time than other whole grains. Its substance is similar to, can be mixed with, and can replace rice. And it can be used in all sorts of recipes including salads, soups, rice-based dishes, and similarly cooks like rice.

Freekeh can be bought from Tesco at £1.49 for a 200g pack.

1 Research was carried out by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation by T Bird, M Noaks, M Jackson, and D Topping in 2004 – Effects of Cracked Greenwheat Freekeh on Biomarkers of Bowel and Cardiovascular Health

Prawn, shallot, tenderstem and freekeh salad

This makes a deliciously simple supper full of goodness and flavour (recipe idea courtesy of UK Shallots).

Serves: 2
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes 

You’ll need:

– 150g freekeh
– 1tbsp butter
– 8 shallots, peeled and quartered
– 200ml vegetable stock
– 200g tenderstem broccoli
– 150g cooked tiger or king prawns
– Handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
– 1 lemon 

What to do:

1. Soak the freekeh in cold water for 5 minutes, drain and rinse under running water, allow to drain well.  Melt the butter in a large pan, add the shallots and sauté over a medium heat for approx 5 minutes until softened. 

2. Add the freekeh and vegetable stock, simmer gently for 10-20 minutes, the freekeh needs a little longer and has a slightly chewy, nutty texture and taste.

3. Add the tenderstem, cover and cook for a few minutes, turn the heat off and allow everything to steam under the lid in the residual heat for another 5 minutes, then leave to cool a little.

4. Stir in the prawns, parsley and a good squeeze of lemon juice, season to taste.

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Cook’s tip: Delicious served with a spoonful of natural yoghurt or crème fraiche and a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts.