Move over quinoa, because a new hot supergrain is about to take the spotlight in the nutrition and food world. Freekeh (pronounced "free-ka") is red hot right now, and for good reason. I had never heard of it until one of my fellow Yummy Mummies mentioned it. I then did some research and found out quickly that eating this ancient grain—touted for its many health benefits—is a nutritional trend worth following.
The word "Freekeh" is derived from the Arabic word "al-freek" which means "what is rubbed," referring to how they rub the grain to rid it of its shell. Native to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, Freekeh is a type of durum wheat that is harvested young (when it is still "green") and when the grains are still moist, "milky" and soft. Small piles of these grains are dried in the sun and then set ablaze—yep, set on fire—so that the chaff and straw burn off. The fire is controlled carefully though, so that the precious seeds do not burn, but rather roast to perfection. The grains are then dried in the sun further, polished and cracked before they are sold. Because this type of wheat grain is harvested when it is so young, it boasts a plethora of health benefits that mature wheat and other common whole grains can't compete with.
Unfortunately, Freekeh isn't widely available yet in Canada. But you can find it in a few major grocery stores down the ethnic or specialty food aisles, certain health food stores, as well as specialty Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food stores. I highly recommending doing some research in your city or town to find a stash of these healthy, delicious smoky-flavoured grains though—it's well worth the effort. Greenwheat Freekeh, an Australian company, is leading the industry when it comes to both research and development of modern processing technologies for Freekeh. In fact, this company is the first and only in the world to develop technology to harvest this soft young wheat grain.
Here are just a few reasons why Freekeh has won me over from a nutritional standpoint:
Is it gluten-free?
Some claim that Freekeh is safe for those who need to avoid gluten (i.e., those who have Celiac Disease), but the truth is, Freekeh is NOT a gluten-free grain (it's a form of wheat after all). There may be something unique about the immaturity of the wheat grain and the way that the grains are roasted (the roasting may "denature" the gluten) that may rendor it safe for those who avoid gluten. But until there is more research done, it's best to play it safe and avoid it if you follow a gluten-free diet.
How to prepare it on the stove top:
And speaking of food fads, check out these hot nutrition and food trends for 2014.
And if you're thinking about trying Freekeh for breakfast, read here about why eating breakfast will make your life way better.
Most nights, I serve salad with dinner because I find that it's easy to toss organic greens into a bowl and top it with chopped veggies and a vinaigrette. I've been finding lately though that I'm getting sick of the same old salads.
In other words, I'm in a salad slump.
It's easy to get stuck in a "recipe rut," whether it's salads, main dishes or sides; rotating through the same three or four week after week. When you are a busy mom, it can sometimes seem daunting to experiment with new recipes because it's just easier to throw together an old stand-by dish that you know your family will like and eat. But adding a fresh new recipe to the mix can brighten up a meal, pleasantly surprise your family members and give you that culinary confidence boost that you need.
March is Nutrition Month and this year, Dietitians Of Canada has chosen the theme "Simply Cook And Enjoy." I love this theme because I find that too often, people are turning to processed, ready-made foods or ordering food in because cooking seems too time consuming or difficult. The truth is, cooking healthy meals for your family doesn't have to mean creating pin-worthy, fancy and complicated dishes day in and day out. The messages that we're sharing as Dietitians will hopefully encourage Canadians to just get cooking. It's a simple way for the whole family to connect, eat better and enjoy.
A great place to start is by making a new salad, which is what I did last month to get out of my salad slump. I have to admit, before I tasted this recipe, I had never really eaten zucchini raw or in a salad. I had always grilled it or added it to a stir-fries or roasted it along with root veggies at Christmas. My sister-in-law made this delicious zucchini salad while we were in Hawaii last month and I fell in love with it. I tried it again when we returned home and we now can't get enough of it. The zucchini is sliced with a carrot peeler lengthwise so it looks looks like beautiful green ribbons piled on top of eachother when you're done.
With a carrot (or potato) peeler, peel zuchini lengthwise while rotating zucchini until you reach the seedy middle part (stop there)
Top peeled zucchini ribbons with sun dried tomato, feta, nuts
Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper and drizzle over the salad right before serving.
Recipe adapted from Chatelaine Magazine's "Zucchini Pasta Salad"
Dear person who is about to talk to a pregnant woman,
A friend of mine who is pregnant—and might I add, looks beautiful—has had the misfortune of being spoken to by complete morons who have no regard for her feelings and clearly don't understand (or choose to overlook) the fact that it requires some weight gain and body shape changes in order to grow a baby. And that this all happens at different rates and stages, depending on the woman. Being someone who has housed two humans myself (one of which was only 7 short months ago), I thought it appropriate to send out a reminder of how not to speak to a pregnant woman about her body.
Please think about the fact that the woman you are about to talk to is growing a human being inside of her. A HUMAN BEING. Also, remember that this woman has feelings—no wait—her feelings are on steroids and her emotions are on a hormonal rollercoaster that doesn't stop until long after this human being that she is growing all by herself comes out in an intense and painful way.
Please do not say the following:
This is just plain rude. Who says this ever to anyone?
Just don't even go there. Even if you truly think this person is having twins, they're likely not, so just don't.
No shit! There's a baby in there!
Gotta love this little gem. I heard this many a time when I was pregnant with both of my babies. Do you have a magic ultrasound machine that you carry around with you at all times that can measure and weigh babies in utero? No? Then shut up.
Who do you think you are asking this question? It is none of your business no matter who you are!
Who says this? No really, who says this?!
Translation for a pregnant woman: Wow, you are WAY too big to only be 4 months along, so just imagine how humongous you're going to become later in your pregnancy! Would you say that to this same person?! No, ok then zip it.
What does that even mean?! It sounds like what you're trying to say is that she has gained weight all over her body and she really should only be carrying a basketball of a baby out front. You've just squashed this woman's already vulnerable self-esteem.
But what if she's not close at all? What if she's only just entered her second trimester?
Really encouraging words to a woman who might be a bit nervous of labour.
Yep, this was actually said.
Really? Are you kidding me? This is so insulting and mean. Who would say this?!
Everybody starts showing at different stages of pregnancy, and this is dependent on many things. Why make this woman feel awful and as though it is wrong to be showing a little bump earlier than someone else?
Translation: You are HUGE!
This was said right after my friend made the announcement of her pregnancy. I kid you not. A nice "congratulations" would have sufficed I think.
Here are some more appropriate things to say to someone who is pregnant:
You look great!
How are you feeling?
You look fantastic.
I bet you can't wait to meet your little sweetheart.
Or... just smile.
Interested in learning about proper nutrition during pregnancy? Here's some great information on how to manage digestive issues during pregnancy and here's another one highlighting the six most important nutrients during pregnancy.
Image Source: FreeImages.com