Even in the days when my diet consisted mostly of pizza and potato chips, I knew I liked tabbouleh. I knew it, because my high school friend’s mother made it for dinner sometimes (she also made a mean carrot souffle). Mrs. H’s version was lush and fresh, with an abundance of parsley — the way I like it now. Tabbouleh has Arab origins, and is one of the most popular salads in the middle east today. Mrs. H often served it with lamb — also popular in the Middle East — which just goes to show that she knew what she was doing.
Bulgur is the nutritional star here, a useful ingredient if you’re seeking out how to lower blood sugar. Bulgur has fewer calories, less fat and more than twice the fiber of brown rice. The Whole Grains Council has an excellent chart on its website that lists the fiber content of various grains. They list quinoa at 7%, oats at 10.6% and bulgur wheat at an amazing 18.3%. What does that have to do with diabetes? Research shows that people who eat lots of fiber are better at controlling their blood sugar. The message seems to be: don’t give in to the temptation to cut out carbs completely. Instead, eat portion-savvy amounts and try to make them unrefined and high in fiber. That makes bulgur a great choice for diabetics. And so is parsley, which most people think of as a garnish and often toss aside. Parsley is contains over 200% of your RDA for VItamin K. Did you know that Vitamin K enhances insulin sensitivity? Tufts University researchers found that some people who received Vitamin K supplements had a noticeable improvement in their insulin resistance.
I had some fun here and used Bob’s Red Mill “Whole Grain Red Bulgur”, which they call one of their “Grains-of-Discovery”. The recipe is very adaptable, but don’t reduce the amount of parsley; it is a full-fledged vegetable here. In some Middle Countries, the proportion of parsley to bulgur is even greater. Add more lemon juice if you want it more tart, and play with different intensities of olive oil. To me, the dish calls for a full-flavored oil. If you want to keep things vegetarian, serve the tabbouleh with hummus or falafel or grilled vegetables, or maybe some zucchini patties. The possibilities are endless.