July 18, 2013

Veggie Fact of the Day

Bulgur is a cereal made from the groats of several different wheat species, although most often it is made from durum wheat. Although the name is of Turkish origin, along with the Middle East, Bulgur is also used in European and and South Asian cuisine.  In Indian cuisine, bulgur is called Dalia. 

In the US, bulgur for human consumption is typically parboiled and dried before sale. It retains almost all of its bran and for that reason it is identified as a whole grain. Cracked Bulgur is not the same as Cracked Wheat (which is not parboiled and takes much longer to cook). Internationally, Turkey in the largest producer of Bulgur and within the US, California, Montana, Oklahoma and Kansas are the states producing the largest quantities. 

The flavor of bulgur is light and nutty, similar to steel cut oats, but a little more earthy. Its texture is a little chewy like other whole grains. It can be used as a pilaf, added to soups and salads and as a starchy grain (which retains its integrity) in hearty soups. In the United States is often used as a side dish, much like pasta or rice, but across the world it is used in pretty much in every form. In India, it is made into a sweet breakfast cereal by boiling in milk and sugar. In the middle east, it is used in tabbouleh and other similar salads. 

Compared to white rice, bulgur has way more fiber and protein, and a lower glycemic index to boot. One cup of cooked bulgur contains more than 8 grams of fiber. The lower glycemic index is due to its high content of slow-digesting, complex carbs. Each cup contains under 34 grams of carbs, around 6 grams of protein and less than a 1/2 gram of fat and 0g of cholesterol (like almost every other plant food!). Major minerals include a moderate amount of potassium compared to other grains which have almost none (124 mg/cup), iron (1700 mg/cup) and zinc (1 mg/cup). Although 1 mg doesn't seem like much zinc, you'd be surprised to know that the RDA for Zinc is 11 mg. And lastly, bulgur is loaded with Vitamin B6 (Niacin), which each cup containing a whopping 2 grams of niacin. And all this, for only around 150 calories/cup!

Fun Fact of the Day: During World War II, Bulgur was used for two purposes - as a staple to feed the troops and as a sand blasting agent to clean airplane parts. Weird!! 

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