What the Freek(eh)?
There are multiple studies coming out on the anti-aging benefits of whole grains. So, in looking into some of these benefits, I found that I was very under-educated on many of the really good grains that are available out there.
First, I learned what whole grains are: the entire kernel that contain bran, endosperm, germ and the husk. The studies are linking whole grain usage to lower risks of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
What is 100% whole grain? When you are shopping, read the labels and check if the entire kernel of grain is an ingredient. If there is just germ and bran it means these are refined grains. That means the bulk of the fiber, iron and nutrients are removed. If the label does not stipulate “100 % Whole Grain” move on to the next label, keep reading.
Here are some of the best of the best to include in your daily diet, try ‘em and you might find a new favorite.
Barley is a nutty grain that is rich in beta-glucan, the same cholesterol lowering soluble fibers that are in oats. So, barley can help lower your “bad cholesterol”according to a study done by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Always, chose hulled barley. It will cook up in 40 minutes in soups or stews or toss with a roasted squash and herbs for a cold grain salad.
Farro daily serving of ¾ of a cup provides at least 30 % of your niacin, which your body must have daily to turn food into energy and 20 % of your immune boosting zinc. Cooked, even for a long time, will retain its al-dente texture. Sautee cooked farro with mushrooms, roasted red pepper and arugula with some balsamic vinegar, yum.
Freekeh is a type of grain that is harvested young and is usually sold roasted and cracked, giving it a smokey flavor and a shorter cooking time of around 20 minutes. It is one of the highest in protein, with 8 grams in ¾ of a cup serving. Best I tasted, was sautéed with leeks, dried apricots and almonds. Can be used similar to tabbouleh with chopped parsley, herbs and olive oil.
Sorghum which is round and mild in flavor, similar to Israel couscous. Sorghum has the highest levels of disease fighting antioxidants of all the grains. Go for the wild side and mix in with cooked lentils, red, yellow or black and toss with curried cauliflower.
Teff was the newest to me. Teff resembles brown poppy seeds. Cooks pretty quickly in 15-20 minutes. It has a nutritionally unusual high amount of 92 mg of calcium per ¾ of cup or about 10% of your daily needs. As well as 50 % of daily iron we need, as we age. Teff like most grains is high in fiber which helps with blood sugar ratios and gut health. When cooked the taste is almost like molasses. Try for a morning change instead of oatmeal with chopped bananas and pecans.
So, go explore, when you are shopping next, read the labels and don’t Freekeh out! Experiment and be healthier