Bulgur is a pre-cooked, dried cracked wheat. Bulgur is also called ala, burghul, cracked wheat and American rice.
Bulgur: An Ancient Food
Bulgur is toasted in appearance, nutty in flavor, and easily adaptable to favorite dishes.
Bulgur is an ancient food; in fact, it is the oldest processed food known. In the Middle East its use in the daily diet dates back to Biblical times.
In the United States, Armenian immigrants continued to make and consume it.
Recently there has been a renewed interest in use of bulgur and it has assumed a position of distinction with gourmet foods.
Bulgur has the advantage of cooking more rapidly than whole or cracked wheat. The nutritive values of bulgur are approximately the same as those of whole wheat flour.
Nutritional Value of Bulgur
Bulgur is high in carbohydrate, mainly complex carbohydrate (starch) which is a primary source of energy for many populations. Bulgur has the highest protein value of any of the cereals, however, it is not a complete protein. Wheat makes a good contribution of some of the B vitamins and trace minerals (iron and zinc) as well.
Whole grain wheat products contain more nutrients than refined wheat products where the germ and bran are removed. White flour is frequently enriched with the addition of B vitamins and iron to replace the nutrients which are lost in processing. Bulgur is a good source of fiber.
The revised USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans includes the statement:
"Choose a diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits and grain products."
The recommended number of daily servings of breads and cereals is six, an increase from four servings. At least half of the servings should be whole grain products. The increase in complex carbohydrate (starch) and dietary fiber from these foods is thought to be preventative of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
If you have never used bulgur before, you are missing a treat. It is a delicious form of whole wheat that has been ground and pre-cooked, which makes it a snap to prepare. Being a rich source of folic acid and fiber, bulgur is a favorite grain that aids in the prevention of heart disease.
You can find bulgur in the grocery store near the pasta or rice, or in a specialty food aisle. Sometimes it is sold as a pilaf or tabbouleh mix. Bulgur is one of those rare "convenience foods" that loses nothing nutritionally for convenience. It is pre-cooked and in some recipes requires only hot water or broth for preparation.
Compared to brown rice, another whole grain, bulgur contains fewer calories and more than twice as much fiber. Different size grinds may be used interchangeably based on personal preference and the dish. Fine grind bulgur makes a nutritious breakfast cereal (similar to but more nutritious than cream of rice or wheat).
Fine or medium grinds can go in tabbouleh, a dish containing bulgur, parsley, olive oil, spices and tomatoes. Both fine and medium grinds can also be served as a hot grain side dish like rice or can substitute for rice in recipes.
Medium grind is an all-purpose size, which you can use in stews, soups, meatless burgers and chili. A half cup of cooked bulgur yields one serving from the grain foods group in the Food Guide Pyramid. Try bulgur as a main entree or side dish with seasonings, vegetables, nuts or small amounts of meats or fish. Bulgur can also be stirred into waffles, pancakes, muffins, salads or baked goods to add a nutty flavor without the fat.
Coarse grind is great for casseroles and can be used in pilafs, soups, salads and added to bread ingredients. Whole kernel bulgur is used in hearty soups and breads.
Composition of Bulgur
Composition/100g: water 9g, 1432kJ (342kcal), protein 12.3g, fat 1.3g (of which 22 percent saturated, 22 percent monounsaturated, 56 percent polyunsaturated), carbohydrate 75.9g (0.4g sugars), fiber 18.3g, ash 1.5g, Ca 35mg, Fe 2.5mg, Mg 164mg, P 300mg, K 410mg, Na 17mg, Zn 1.9mg, Cu 0.3mg, Mn 3mg, Se 2.3mg, 225mg carotenoids, vitamin E, 0.1mg, K, 1.9mg, B1, 0.23mg, B2, 0.12mg, niacin 5.1mg, B6, 0.34mg, folate 27mg, pantothenate 1mg. A 30g serving is a source of Mg, P, a rich source of Mn.
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