Fun Food Fact Friday: Greenwheat Freekeh

Pronounced “Freak-ah,” Greenwheat Freekeh is roasted green wheat that has been around for over 2000 years, and it may be the new quinoa. It’s basically wheat that’s picked early (when it’s green) and dried, burned, and smoked. Sounds violent! But, the result is a grain that has 4 times more fiber than rice, and is high in protein, calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc. Plus, it has a low Glycemic Index, meaning that it slowly turns into glucose in your bloodstream, thus preventing sugar spikes and insulin rushes, and is a good carbohydrate food for diabetics.

When I saw it in the bulk section of Whole Foods the other day, I couldn’t resist. A freaky grain, and this variety from Australia? Count me in! And now I’m realizing my favorite hideout–Trader Joe’s–may also have a version of Freekeh as well.

But don’t ancient grains take hours to cook?
(which is actually a seed that’s eaten like a grain, rich in protein and fiber, and wheat and gluten-free) only takes about 15 minutes to prepare. Greenwheat Freekeh takes 20-25 minutes to prepare the cracked version and 40-45 minutes to prepare the whole grain variety. Still faster than brown rice. Here’s a fun 2-minute how-to Australian Freekeh movie.

I cooked a pot last night and am enjoying Freekmeal Breakfast this morning. DEEE LISH. Nutty, sweet, and filling!

Bitchin' Dietitian's Freekmeal Breakfast

Freekmeal Breakfast
Serves 1

1/2 cup cooked Greenwheat Freekeh
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
2 Tbsp pepitas
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk (the fridge version, not the canned version) 

Heat all ingredients on the stovetop or in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Mmm mm MMM!

Interested in more ways to get your Freekeh on? Check out this Freekeh with Chickpeas and Mushrooms and this Freekeh Salad with Beets, Cilantro, and Lime.

Fun Food Fact Friday: Pawpaws!

Photo by: Veggie Gardening Tips

I always thought I was on the cutting edge of produce. Straight out of college I helped rally two ultimate frisbee teams into calling themselves “Jicama” and ” the Yams” (Eventhough one guy was lobbying hard for “Silence of the Yams”). So when Dr. (we’ll call him) ‘Pennsylvania’ showed up to work with pawpaws, I was floored. “They taste like custard.” A fruit that tastes like custard? Nature is so sneaky and so brilliant! And yes, after getting my paws on the pawpaw, it was confirmed. Pawpaws without the lima-bean sized black pits and peel are creamy with subtle pineapple and banana flavors. Deciduously delicious!

So now I’ve done some research. Nicknamed the “Hoosier Banana,” pawpaws are the largest fruit native to America (conveniently sized to fit in a human paw). The reason we don’t see them in the Whole Foods Market produce section? They have very specific growing conditions and are currently found mostly in the eastern U.S. Their shelf life is short… 2-3 days, but up to 3 weeks if refrigerated. The real kicker is that they’re not self-pollinating, and require cross pollination from unrelated pawpaw trees (when this happens, it’s a minor miracle). AND pollination-enthusiast bees show no interest in pawpaw flowers. How rude! So, pollination is dependent on lazy flies and beetles. Therefore, hand-pollination is key. If you’re interested in trying a pawpaw, your best bet is to plant your own tree, and then enjoy every tidbit of it!

Ever had a pawpaw? I want to hear all about it!

Fun Food Fact Friday: Capers!

Photo by Tim Lewis

Recently overheard by Bitchin’ Dietitian’s dad: “This dish would be even better topped with capers!”

Hm, so what ARE capers, where do they come from, and do they have any nutritional value? The salty sour flavor of capers makes them a stellar addition to soups, salads, and main dishes. They’re the unripened flower buds of a prickly perennial plant native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. After the buds are harvested (picked by hand, which is why they cost a pretty penny!), they’re sun-dried and pickled in vinegar, wine, brine, or salt. The curing brings out their lemony flavor.

A serving is generally about a tablespoon and 2 calories. Too little to pack a nutrition punch?! No way! One tablespoon of capers is loaded with enough vitamin E and other antioxidants to give them a place on the health wagon. Plus, even in small doses, they’ve been shown to prevent lipid oxidation. If all you’re hearing is ‘blah blah blah’… how does lowering heart disease risk sound? Jackpot! The only downside is their sodium content… generally about 250 milligrams per tablespoon. But, just keep your focus on lots of unprocessed nature foods and those capers will fit in perfectly.

Try this Penne with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Capers dish for something different. And if you want that caper flavor without the bank-breaking side-effect, here’s a recipe for Poor Man’s Capers.

How do YOU caper?

Fun Food Fact Friday: Bagels!

Do you bounce out of bed on free-bagel Friday?! What is it about those round wonders that gets us pumped for the ball & chain? Could it be the ingredients?…  high-gluten flour, salt, water, yeast, and malt. That must be it: Drop the flour, and you’ve got beer. Or, is it the condiments? The tower of cream cheese, drippy margarine, or peanut butter & jelly combo.

When you gather at the toaster today, here are a few facts to help you choose the best “beygel“. Get as close as you can to the following: 300 calories, 0 grams of fat & saturated fat (since your topping will no doubt have some fat), and <5 grams of sugar. Red and Green lights are indicated:

Nutrition info from Einstein Bros Bagels and Panera Bread

Asiago Cheese: 360 calories, 3 g fat, 1.5 g sat fat, 71 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 2 g fiber
Chocolate Chip: 370 calories, 3 g fat, 2 g sat fat, 76 g carbs, 10 g sugar, 3 g fiber
Cinnamon Raisin Swirl: 350 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 78 g carbs, 14 g sugar, 2 g fiber
Everything: 340 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 75 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 2 g fiber
Honey Whole Wheat: 320 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 71 g carbs, 11 g sugar, 3 g fiber
Pumpernickel: 320 calories, 0 g fat, 68 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 3 g fiber
Sesame: 310 calories, 3 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 59 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 2 g fiber

As for toppings, reduced fat cream cheese saves you 50 calories & 6 grams of fat, but still adds 130 total calories to your circular sammidge. To go even lower, top your toasty with jam, which adds only 70 additional calories. And how about this?! Hollow-out or “scoop-out” the bagel guts and save yourself 75 calories! 

How did YOU eat it this morning?