Freekeh Pilaf and Coconut Macaroons

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There is a research study done by the scientists at Harvard School of Public Health that shows that people who consumed at least 10.22 grams of cereal fiber had a 19% lower risk of death.  If you can cheat death by eating delicious whole grains, then why not?

I reached for the bag of freekeh in the pantry immediately after I read the article because freekeh contains twice the amount of dietary fiber than comparable grains.  I made it with beets and chards and they turned out to be quite delectable.

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Freekeh and Beet Pilaf

Ingredients:

8.8 oz. (250g) cooked beets (I used 1 bag organic Love Beets)

1 bunch red chard, chopped

1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (to taste)

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons caraway seeds, lightly crushed

3 cups cooked freekeh

2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled or diced 1/2 cup (optional)

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Preparation:

Cook freekeh according to package instruction.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add the caraway, chards, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir over medium heat for 2 minutes until the chard are nicely infused with the garlic and oil.

Add the beets and freekeh. Toss together until the ingredients are well combined and the freekeh is heated through and colored with beet juice. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Transfer to a wide serving bowl or platter, and sprinkle the goat cheese over the top. Serve hot.

Freekeh is also great in salads.

Adapted from: nytimes.com

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And for desert I made coconut macaroons.  There is simply no other confections with higher dietary fiber than macaroons.  And you don’t need a pastry course to achieve the sweet toasted crunch and pillowy center.  A 10-year-old can pull it off.  Seriously.  It’s that easy.

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Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients:

3/4 cup (5 large) egg whites

1/4 cup xylitol

pinch of salt

10 oz sweetened coconut flakes (Baker’s)

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

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Preparation:

In a heavy saucepan combine egg whites, sugar, salt and coconut flakes, sliced almonds and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until all the ingredients combine together, about 12 minutes.

The mixture should be sticky and moist, not dry. Remove from heat and stir in the almond and vanilla extracts. Set aside on a dish and let it cool in the refrigerator about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 300°. Using a tablespoon, scoop tightly packed tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet covered with a silpat or parchment paper.

Bake 30 minutes or until golden.

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Adapted from: skinnytaste

Let’s Get Freekeh!

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On my Costco trip today, I saw something I hadn’t before — freekeh, which the autocorrect kept insisting is “fresh.”  Since I have two vegetarians at home, I am always looking to try new nuts or grains.  Standing by the grain isle, I instantly googled freekeh.  I learned that it is an ancient grain originated in the Eastern Mediterranean and it has been popular for centuries in the Arabian Peninsula. Technically it’s a type of roasted green wheat and the process of making the product seems quite arduous (but definitely worth it!) It contains very high fiber and protein and it also has a relatively low glycemic index, which means its energy is released slowly through out the day.  It is loaded with more calcium, iron and zinc than comparable grains such as quinoa.  I decided to give this Californian grown exotic grain a try today by putting a twist on Gina Homolka’s Mediterranean Quinoa Salad.

It turned out delicious — perfect for a warm summery spring day.  There is something magical about the combination of lemon, olive oil and feta.  And the kalamata olives give it a fruity pungent kick. Both girls prefer the nutty, fragrant taste of freekeh to the more earthy quinoa. 

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Mediterranean Freekeh Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked freekeh (you can also use quinoa or couscous)

2 1/4 cups water or broth

1/4 cup red onion, diced

1/2 – 3/4 lemon, squeezed

1/4 cup (about 10) kalamata olives, pitted and sliced

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 cups cucumber, peeled and diced (from 1 English)

1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered or diced

1/3 cup low-fat crumbled feta

salt and fresh pepper, to taste

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Preparation:

Cook freekeh in a rice cooker with 2 1/4 cup water, or according to package instruction.  Once cooked, fluff the grain and let it cool.

While the freekeh cools, dice all the vegetables. Add the red onion, olives, cucumber, tomatoes to the cooled quinoa, and squeeze 1/2 lemon over it. 

Drizzle the olive oil over the freekeh then add feta, salt and pepper to taste and toss well. Taste for salt and adjust as needed, add more lemon juice if needed.

Eat up!  Get freekeh!

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02-Freekeh

Adapted from:

skinnytaste.com