Ancient grain freekeh offers solutions to modern day consumer problems

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Ancient grain freekeh offers solutions to modern day consumer problems

Related tags Wheat

With its “chameleon-like” versatility, nutrient-density and strong structural integrity, the ancient grain freekeh is a triple threat to many modern day eating woes that plague time-crunched consumers seeking something healthy and fast, according to the chief operating officer of Freekehlicious.

“Many consumers today, especially millennials, are all about grab-and-go, but they also want something healthy”​ that is packed with protein, high in fiber, supports gut health and is nutrient-dense – all of which freekeh provides, Thomasina Nista Chaffardet explained to FoodNavigator-USA.

“Our freekeh is made from young, green durum wheat that is roasted, rubbed and dried in a way that preserves the nutrients and vitamins that are not available in a mature grain,”​ she said. This means that each serving of Freekehlicious’ whole grain or cracked freekeh offers six to eight grams of protein, four times more fiber than brown, high levels of calcium and lutein and plentiful prebiotic properties that are important for fueling healthy gut bacteria.

In addition, the grain has resistant starch that helps people feel full and, if necessary, manage diabetes, she said.

Beyond its on-point nutritionals, the grain offers diversity today’s consumers want, Chaffardet said. For example, it can be used as a base for veggie burgers or meatballs, in salads and soups, or even as a breakfast base similar to oats.

“It is really crunchy and nutty and so it pairs equally well with sweet and savory options,”​ she said.

A sturdy texture gives freekeh a longer shelf life

But what sets the grain apart from other high profile ancient grains, such as quinoa, and makes it equally appealing to on-the-go consumers and the food service industry, is its sturdy texture and consistency, Chaffardet said.

“When you cook freekeh it has a slightly crunchy texture and consistency that will keep in the fridge for five to seven days, unlike cous cous or quinoa, which break down and get a very moist, gooey taste,”​ Chaffardet said.

As a result, it is ideal for use in pre-made salads at the deli counter or in individually packaged containers that consumers can easily grab and go. It also means home cooks can make a large batch and have it available throughout the week, she said.

For those ambitious home cooks and food service chefs who want to prepare their own freekeh-based meals, Freekehlicious sells its freekeh in 9-ounce pouches, bulk and in 50 pound bags and totes.

Premade meals for fast snacks

But for those stores and shoppers who want to enjoy the taste and nutrition of freekeh without investing 20-40 minutes to cook it fresh and prep other ingredients, the company also offers pre-made grain salads with the cooked and frozen freekeh packed separately from the vegetables and dressing so that all that needs to be done is for the product to be thawed and mixed and then it can be available for days.

Currently the company offers a South American Freekeh Grain salad that combines the grain with red quinoa, black beans, roasted corn, onions and peppers with a chimichurri sauce, and a Fig Freekeh Grain Salad that also features red quinoa along with figs, nuts, cherries and cranberries in a fig sauce.

The popularity of both salads with retailers has inspired the brand to make consumer packaged versions of the salads that likely will be sold in 5 ounce containers and simply require consumers to pop them in the microwave to enjoy, Chaffardet said.

She explained the company is testing the concept now, but she is confident the products will be a success based on the direction millennials are pushing the market.

“Millennials love snacks and they are into a fast, healthy way of living,”​ which these products and freekeh more broadly can help them attain, she said.

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