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Bulgur is one of the unsung heroes of the grain world. A staple of the traditional Mediterranean diet for thousands of years, bulgur wheat has recently become popular in modern health food and vegetarian diets. Rich in “B” vitamins, iron, phosphorous, and manganese.

Bulgur is wheat in its whole form, which has been parboiled for quick cooking. Bulgur is sometimes confused with cracked wheat, which is crushed wheat grain that has not been parboiled. It comes in three types, coarse grind which has a consistency that is similar to that of rice and can be used in place of rice in any recipe. A medium grind is most commonly used for cereal and fillings, and fine grind is usually used for tabbouleh and other salads – such as the one below.

The health benefits of bulgur include preventing constipation (it is high in fiber), preventing cancer, and reducing the risk of heart disease. Bulgur contains ferulic acid, which can prevent nitrates and nitrites, common in many foods, from converting into nitrosamines, which have been linked to cancer. Bulgur wheat also contains lignans. Lignans have high antioxidant properties and also prevent cholesterol from being damaged by free radicals, which makes it easier to stick to the artery walls. Less cholesterol on the artery walls means less chance of developing heart disease.

Aside from all the fantastic health benefits of bulgur, there is one more thing to know – it tastes great! It has a nutty flavor and is a great substitute for bread crumbs in say, meatloaf. It can also be substituted in for about 1/3 of the flour in just about any muffin, quick bread, or yeast bread recipe. Give it a try the next time you’re baking to “healthy up” your own favorite recipes. You’ll find bulgur packaged in small bags in the grains or health food section of most grocers. Locally the brand most available is Bob’s Red Mill.

Bulgur Salad with Edamme and Dill

1 cup uncooked bulgur
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame
1 pound yellow and red cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup finely minced Italian parsley
1/3 cup minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh mint
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine bulgur and 1cup boiling water in a large bowl. Cover and let stand1 hour or until bulgur is tender, place in a strainer to remove any unabsorbed water then return to bowl.

Cook edamame in boiling water for 3 minutes and drain. Add edamame, tomatoes, parsley, dill, mint, and green onions to bulgur; toss well.

Whisk lemon juice and olive oil together in a small bowl, whisk in salt and pepper, add to bulgur and mix well.

Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 8

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