Freekeh Friday

Happy Friday y’all!  I don’t know about you, but after being sick for two days and a tough work week, I’m SO glad it’s finally Friday.  Especially because I’m declaring today freaky freekeh Friday!

Freekeh!

Freekeh!

What the heck is freekeh?

I’m so glad you asked!  Pronounced “free-kah”, it is an ancient grain “superfood” that despite being over 2000 years old, is predicted to be a trend in 2014.  It is a green wheat that is harvested young and roasted.  It is comparable to bulgur or barley, but has a nutty/smoky flavor similar to wheat berries.

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Freekeh=fluffy, nutty & nutritious!

So why should you be eating it?

Freekeh packs a serious nutritional punch when compared to other grains.  While brown rice contains about 3 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of fiber per 1/4 cup, freekeh boasts 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber for an equivalent serving!

Besides for you gluten-free folks (sorry, it is wheat!), this ancient grain is the perfect addition to most meal plans and is a great source of plant protein for vegans and vegetarians.  The high protein and fiber content means it can help with weight loss/management as it will fill you up and keep you fuller longer.  It cooks quickly (only 20-25 minutes) and is super versatile.  Freekeh  can be added to soups, mixed into side dishes or sprinkled onto salads.  Because it’s fairly chewy, it can even be made into a breakfast dish (think swapping oats for freekeh) or a sweet treat!  There are tons of recipe ideas available for freekeh, but be sure to check out my recipe for an Apple Cinnamon Freekeh Parfait below!

I was first introduced to freekeh back during my food-service rotation of my Dietetic Internship program with the North Shore LIJ Health System.  A food vendor gave samples to the chef at our hospital and he handed it over to some of the interns to figure out what to make of it.  We ended up creating a breakfast parfait using seasonal fruit, which inspired me in my recipe below.  😉

Where can you find freekeh?

As of now, freekeh can be somewhat difficult to get your hands on, which I’m sure will change as its popularity grows.  Look for it in health food stores and more popular grocery stores like Whole Foods, Stop & Shop and Shop Rite! When preparing for this post, I even struggled to find it, so I reached out to the good people at Freekeh Foods for some guidance! They pointed me to stores in my area (Click here to find freekeh near you!) and even sent me samples of their Original, Tamari and Rosemary Sage freekeh.  I used original in my parfait recipe, but can’t wait to try the others soon.

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Thanks, Freekeh Foods!

So if I haven’t convinced you to try freekeh yet, let me tell you how I prepared it!  I love the idea of using freekeh at breakfast to create a high protein and high fiber meal to kickstart the day!  Enter my friends:

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Parfait Partners

Apple Cinnamon Freekeh Parfait

Makes: 2 servings

1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt (plain)

1/2 cup freekeh

1 apple

~2 Tbsp honey

Cinnamon to taste

1.  Cook freekeh according to directions, about 20-25 minutes.

2.  While freekeh cooks, wash and chop apple (I used a Gala) into small bits.

3.  Combine cooked freekeh with honey and cinnamon and let cool to room temperature.

4.  Build parfait by alternating layers of Greek yogurt, apple pieces, and freekeh.

5. Enjoy! 🙂

Freekeh (not freaky) Parfait

Freekeh (not freaky) Parfait

Nutrition facts (per serving): 270 calories, 14g protein, 2g fat, 6g fiber

Have you ever heard of freekeh?  Tried it?  Want to now?  Tell me about it!

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Disclosure: Freekeh Foods provided me with complimentary samples, but I was not compensated for this post.  As always, all opinions are my own. 

My “Behind The Scenes”

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the saying “don’t compare your behind the scenes with someone else’s highlight reel.” In today’s world of facebook, twitter and IG we all share our perfectly-lighted, filtered, best versions of ourselves and our lives. And it’s great to celebrate and show off the positive things we do: the super healthy salad you had for lunch, the insanely fast pace on your Garmin, the amazing pictures from your vacation. Seeing the likes, retweets and comments can boost our ego and provide reassurance and satisfaction. But it’s a double-edged sword, and when we start comparing our own lives to these snapshots, it might seem like we don’t measure up.

As a dietitian, I encounter this often with clients, but also with myself! If you follow me on any social media, I post pictures of healthy meals and fun fitness activities. I’m totally guilty of showing off my highlights, but I try to show my indulgences too…mostly in the form of mint chocolate chip ice cream and beer. In general, I do my best to practice what I preach. I eat healthy and make time for exercise (I’m even training for my first marathon!). But I was not always that way. I was overweight, inactive and miserable for many years and I am still working toward becoming my best self. It’s a process. As part of this process, I figured I’d share some of my “behind the scenes”, in the form of some confessions…

I’m not at my goal weight (yet). That’s right, I’m a dietitian and I’m overweight. There is an expectation for dietitians to be perfectly fit, thin, picture-perfect people. And just as you might not trust a dentist with bad teeth, my current appearance might work against me in gaining clients trust. But I prefer to see it as a benefit to my practice. You see, in addition to my clinical education and training, I can relate to a lot of my clients because I have personal experience with food and weight struggles! I know what it’s like to be overweight, be on diets and get frustrated. And I also know that what I preach works. There’s no quick-fix, but eating well and getting your sweat on will result in a healthy and happy life (and weight).

I don’t eat “perfectly”. Gasp! I also don’t believe there is one perfect way to eat. There is an assumption that dietitians abstain from anything that may be considered “unhealthy” or “bad”.  I often don’t even get offered treats if someone shares at work…and hear comments like “Oh, she’s healthy-she won’t eat that!” Hey! I (probably) eat whatever THAT is! Yes, I do encourage people to eat their fruits and veggies daily, but sometimes I don’t do that myself! And sometimes with my crazy schedule I can’t fit in exercise! And believe it or not, I absolutely do indugle in treats. I mean, what kind of life would there be without ice cream?

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Mmm…Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream!

I don’t know everything. Sure, I’m supposed to be the “expert” in all things food and nutrition!  But with over 20,000 new food products being introduced each year, there is no way I can keep up with every protein bar, frozen meal or snack pack. I also can’t remember every medical condition (and appropriate nutrition therapy), lab value or supplement. I have to look things up or reach out to colleagues all the time. And that’s okay! I’d so much rather get accurate information to support my decisions and best serve my clients.

I love nutrition, but it’s not my whole life. I don’t want to talk about food or diets or nutrition all the time and sometimes it’s hard to escape! When someone finds out what I do (especially if it’s in a scenario involving food), the response is usually an embarassed expression or a plea of “please don’t judge me!” People often assume I’m going to analyze or criticize what they’re eating. But I’m not the food police. And I don’t go around giving unsolicited advice! Rest assured that if I’m out to eat with you, I’m not worrying about YOUR food…because I’m too focused on my own! 🙂

Phew! Now that that’s all off my chest…TELL ME, do you only show your highlight reel?  Or try to balance it out with some behind the scenes? Feel free to share your confessions! 🙂