Today we are going to cook with a very healthy, very old grain that most of us probably associate only with beer – or soup. Any guesses what it might be? It’s barley! This little grain has been a staple in diets around the world for a longer time than wheat or rice. However, in the US, most barley goes into animal feed – or beer – or soup.
So why try barley? Well, to start with, barley is delicious and can be used in most recipes that call for rice, including pilafs, salads, breads, or even risotto. It has a light flavor, and is just a little chewier than short grain rice. For some great ideas on how to use barley, check out the National Barley Foods Council website at barleyfoods.org. There you’ll find some delicious recipes, including Thai Barley Stir-Fry, Barley Risotto and even Barley Hash and Barley Burgers. Really – you can enjoy a high fiber burger!
When it comes to promoting health and preventing disease, barley just might have super powers. Barley is packed with soluble fiber, and provides more total fiber per cup than any other grain. All of that fiber lowers blood sugar and insulin levels significantly after meals, reduces inflammation in the body, and also lowers cholesterol. Studies also indicate that this super grain can reduce your appetite and promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. However, barley does contain gluten, and would not be appropriate for anyone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
In the summer, I usually enjoy barley in a variety of salads. Because of its chewy texture and the fact that, when chilled, barley doesn’t get hard and crunchy like rice or pasta can, barley is a great salad ingredient. So today, we are going to mix our barley up with some grilled veggies, fresh herbs and a lemony dressing. Click the link below for the complete recipe for the Mediterranean Barley Salad.
Now that work is done, I’m actually going to enjoy a barley beverage! But it’s not beer – it’s iced barley tea, a traditional summer drink in Japan. It’s just made with roasted barley, is caffeine free, and very good unsweetened, and served with a few slices of lemon or lime. You can roast your own barley to make tea, or buy it pre made like I did here in the video. So until next time, Cheers!
Download the Mediterranean Barley Salad Recipe: mediterranean-barley-salad.pdf