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Try an ancient grain for something new

I have two new favorite foods to share with you. One is new, the other ancient.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTOS - Coco-roons are a tasty snack. They are organic, gluten-free and dairy-free and good tasting. The Review and Tidings staff enjoyed the lemon pie flavor best.

The new food is Coco-Roons by Wonderfully Raw. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, low-glycemic organic snacks sweetened with Vermont maple syrup. They come in a variety of flavors such as brownie, apple pie, lemon pie, almond and strawberry PBJ, vanilla maple and cacao nib. The staff favorite flavor was lemon pie.

You can find these fun treats at Whole Foods or order them online at mycocoroons.com.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTOS - The ancient grain freekeh can be used in a variety of dishes, including as a breakfast cereal.

The second new favorite food is a freekeh, an ancient roasted grain native to the Middle East.

The story goes that freekeh, which means “to rub” in Arabic, was created by accident nearly 2,000 years ago when a Middle Eastern village was attacked and the crop of young green wheat was set afire. Rather than cry over the loss of the food the villagers went about salvaging what they could by rubbing off the chaff. They cooked it and voila! — freekeh was created.

Regarded as a super grain for centuries in the Middle East, freekeh is now gaining popularity in America. Each low-fat serving provides 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, which is more than most other grains, making it a great alternative to rice or couscous. It has a delightful roasted, nutty flavor and pleasant texture, cooks quickly and can be used in sweet or savory recipes. What is not to like?

Evidently Dr. Oz, a popular American doctor, has featured the “newest super grain” on his show a number of times and, according to Hospitality Magazine, “freekeh is the latest ‘new’ grain on the block that’s steadily being discovered by more and more chefs who are enjoying it as an ingredient for its texture and the flavor it can add to dishes from risottos to salads, as well as its health and nutritional value.”

Thanks to the folks at Freekeh Foods, a company based in Minnesota, we can now buy freekeh at local grocery stores including New Seasons and Whole Foods or online at freekeh-foods.com. The company uses freekeh grown organically by U.S. farmers to create its products. You can buy original freekeh and two flavored versions, tamari and rosemary sage. I sampled the original flavor and was delighted with the taste and texture.

The price is economical too, which is better than some ancient grains like farro.

Add a healthful food to your diet and try freekeh. I would suggest you try the original flavor first, so you learn its true flavor and then experiment with the flavored versions.

The recipes shared today are from the folks at Freekeh Foods. You can find more recipes and information about the super grain on freekeh-food.com or like Freekeh Foods on Facebook or Pinterest.

Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

1 8-ounce package cracked freekeh (approx. 1 cup) (use original, tamari or rosemary sage variety of Freekeh)

2 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth

4-6 sweet peppers, sliced in half and seeds removed

1 15-ounce can Aduki beans or pinto beans

1 12-ounce jar of your favorite salsa

2 tablespoons tomato paste

6-8 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 small onion, diced

2 limes, juiced

1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro

1 1/2 cups corn, fresh or frozen, thawed

2 cups grape tomatoes, sliced in half

salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Stuffed peppers take a little longer to prepare, but they’re worth it. They can be frozen individually, so they make a great grab-and-go lunch. If you have any of the stuffed pepper filling left, toss it in a whole-wheat wrap or on top of some greens for a Mexican salad.

To prepare the peppers: Add about 2 inches of water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add in the sweet peppers. Cover and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes until they’re slightly soft. Remove peppers from pot and set aside to cool.

Prepare the stuffing: Pour 2 1/2 cups water and the freekeh in a saucepan and bring to a boil for about a minute. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in tomato paste, onion and garlic. Cover and simmer for about 25 minutes until the freekeh is tender. In a large bowl, add freekeh and all ingredients except the steamed peppers, stir and set aside.

Stuff the peppers: Place the peppers in a 9 x 12 casserole dish. With a large spoon, carefully fill the peppers. The contents can come up above the edge of the pepper. Pour about 1/4 inch of water in the dish and place in a preheated 350-degree oven. Cook for about 30 minutes.

Option: Sprinkle grated low-fat pepper jack cheese on top of the peppers after 20 minutes and continue to cook 10 minutes more.

Warm Breakfast Freekeh

1 8-ounce package cracked freekeh (approx. 1 cup of the original variety)

2 1/2 cups water (for richer flavor, try cooking in almond milk or coconut milk)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter

Pour freekeh and liquid into a saucepan and bring to a boil for about 1 minute. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon and butter. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 25 minutes. Serve with fresh, sliced fruit and top with nuts.

Options: You can also add a dollop of yogurt for extra protein and creaminess.

Recipes courtesy of Freekeh-foods.com.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 100, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow her on Twitter, @barbrandallfood.
By Barb Randall
Staff Reporter
503-636-1281 Ext 100
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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