Halal Consumer - Issue 28 - page 7

First up on the list
of suspects is bul-
gur. Bulgur, a Middle
Eastern grain that is
high in fiber and protein,
is the result of steaming,
drying, and crushing wheat
kernels. It is available as a coarse,
medium, or fine grind and, depending
on the grind chosen, is often used as replacement for
rice, meat, or corn. Its popularity derives from the fact
that it takes mere minutes to
cook and offers up a plethora
of health benefits without the
high calorie and fat content of
more typical protein sources
like meat, making it a great
staple in a vegan or vegetarian
diet as well.
In addition to fiber and pro-
tein, bulgur is also packed with
b-vitamin and iron and has
very minimal processing, mak-
ing it an attractive grain for
those who still want to enjoy
the pleasures of pilafs, stuffings, and burgers, but without
the guilt. Registered Dietitian and nutritionist Wendy Jo
Peterson says she regularly recommends her clients use
these grains, stating “I often encourage clients to mix
their grain and seed choices up to reap the benefits of the
variety versus more typical starches like rice, potatoes,
bread, and pasta,” reiterating that bulgur is a good sub-
stitute for these starches because it provides a healthier
source of fiber and protein.
Another new grain to begin hitting the markets is
freekeh! Despite how it sounds, that is not an insult.
Freekeh is wheat that has been harvested while the
grains are still young and green, and are then roasted
and rubbed together. Popular in Middle Eastern cuisine,
freekeh has been called a “superfood” because, in addi-
tion to its high protein and fiber content (boasting 3
times more fiber than brown rice and twice more than
quinoa), it has a low reading on the glycemic index,
making it a food that is useful in the prevention and
management of type 2 diabetes, as noted by the find-
ings of CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Research Organization) in their Greenwheat Freekeh
report of 2003. Research further shows that, unlike
other wheats that are harvested when they are mature,
freekeh is harvested young, allowing the grain to retain
more of its nutrients.
Peterson, co-author of
Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for
, says that freekeh is newer to the markets than
bulgur and not quite as
mainstream, but because
she often eats and shops
in Mediterranean/
Middle Eastern markets,
she herself uses and sees
these grains often and
recommends them when
she can.
Personally being of
Palestinian descent, both
bulgur and freekeh were
staples in my household.
I grew up on cuisines like
, (a salad made with bulgur, fresh lime juice,
cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions),
freekeh soup
(a soup
consisting of freekeh and chicken broth), and
(collard greens stuffed with bulgur and chickpeas).
Having eaten these grains my whole life, it is exciting
to see them gaining mass appeal and slowly becoming
more readily available in mainstream markets. These
new grains, dubbed by Peterson as the “new quinoa of
2014,” offer fulfilling and healthy substitutes for typical
starches and proteins, without a side of fat and guilt. So
go ahead, get your freekeh on! Your body will thank you
for it.
Ronia Abdelrahman
loves trying new restaurants around
Chicago. She is a big fan of coffee, T-shirts with witty sayings,
and sad songs. She also falls down a lot. It’s best to pretend you
didn’t notice.
These new grains, dubbed by
Peterson as the "new quinoa
of 2014," offer fulfilling and
healthy substitutes for typical
starches and proteins, without
a side of fat and guilt.
Spring 2014
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