Wheat has been getting a bad rap in recent times as more and more people choose to cut carbs or decide to embark on a wheat-free, gluten-free diet.
But not all wheat is the same. Although related to each other, some do not actually have the “dreaded gluten protein” which causes digestive problems associated with coeliac disease. Similarly, carbs are not all about sugar and fat. Carbs are an essential source of energy for the body. What’s important is to identify which food choices are best for you – and many health-conscious people around the world, including chefs, are turning to freekeh and farro.
Freekeh is an ancient grain native to the Eastern Mediterranean region. It’s been gaining popularity in the West since being highlighted as a “superfood” by Oprah and chef Jamie Oliver, and with good reason. Made from young green wheat, freekeh has a nutrition-dense profile, partly due to the way it is processed. Harvested in early spring, while still green and full of nutrients, the grain is gently roasted or smoked. The loose chaff is later “rubbed off”, which is where the name “freekeh” is derived (from the Arabic term for “rubbed”). Since the grain inside is still soft and full of moisture, freekeh is able to retain its high protein, vitamin and mineral content, while becoming infused with a delicious earthy, smoky flavour.
Freekeh has more dietary fibre than brown rice and quinoa, besides being rich in iron, calcium, B vitamins and essential nutrients including selenium, potassium, zinc and magnesium. What’s more, freekeh contains a hefty dose of phytochemicals including lutein and zeaxanthin, and acts as a prebiotic, providing sustenance for the good bacteria that aid in digestion.
Farro, known as the pharaoh’s wheat, originated in the Middle East and was part of the staple diet of the ancient Egyptian and Roman Empires. It’s said that farro sustained the Roman legions as they marched across Europe and the Middle East. Subsequently, it became a vital ingredient in Italian cuisine. First domesticated 10,000 years ago, farro is believed to be the oldest cultivated grain in the world. The term “farro” is used when referring to three ancient wheat varieties – farro piccolo (einkorn), farro medio (emmer) and farro grande (spelt). However, emmer wheat (Italian for “farro”) is considered the “true farro”.
Due to relatively low yield, farro was replaced by modern hybrid cousins over the centuries, but its nutrient-dense profile and minimal processing prompted the resurgence in its popularity. Farro is high in protein and is a rich source of dietary fibre, magnesium, and vitamins A, B, C and E. It also contains zinc and iron, besides being cholesterol-free.
Versatile and easy to prepare, freekeh and farro both rank low on the glycemic index, so they keep you feeling satisfied for longer. And while they do contain gluten, it’s the water-soluble type of gluten which has been shown to be more easily digested by the body, not the hard gluten contained in regular wheat. This is why freekeh and farro are more tolerable to people with gluten sensitivities.
Ancient grain crops like freekeh and farro come from seeds that have been around for millennia and have eluded hybridisation and genetic modification. Their heavy hulls protect the grains from insects, making them good crops for organic growers. They are as nature designed them – sturdy and nutritious. Thanks to Ceres Organics, we can now enjoy the true benefits of these ancient gems.
Ceres Organics Freekeh can be used in place of brown rice, barley or pasta in dishes such as pilafs, risotto, soups and salads. Another delicious way to eat it is to toss the grains with maple syrup or honey and then serve with fruit and yoghurt, or as a breakfast cereal mixed with cooked apples, cinnamon and chopped nuts.
Ceres Organics Farro provides a satisfying chew that is nutty in flavour. Like freekeh it is delicious on its own, or combined with beans, leafy greens and other vegetables. Toss with sautéed mushrooms, onions and garlic for a tasty side dish. Enjoy as a cereal or dessert mixed with your favourite fruit and nuts.
The Importance of Choosing Organic
To get the most out of your meals, you’ll want the tastiest, most nutritionally sound ingredients. The best choice is organic. You can be sure they are free from chemical pesticides and herbicides, synthetic fertilisers and artificial preservatives. They also offer the maximum nutritional benefits and natural taste.
For over three decades, Ceres Organics has been the trusted brand for health-conscious Kiwis. Rightly so, because each of their wonderful products is sourced ethically from farms that have passed the stringent organic standards in growing, harvesting and production. NO artificial ingredients or chemical additives are involved in the process. And as an assurance, each Ceres Organics product bears the BioGro mark, attesting to its certified organic status. The result are wholesome products offering the very best of nature’s goodness, and nothing else.