Whole Story

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Give Your Body a Beautiful Boost with Barley

By Alana Sugar, January 10, 2011  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar
This month I’m talking about many of my favorite whole grains and how you might enjoy adding them to your own menu plan. This week’s focus is barley – a beautiful addition to breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. I remember moving to Northern California when I was nine. Our neighbors had a baby boy named Charlie. My first memory of Charlie was that he ate barley – Gerber baby-food barley cereal. How strange that seemed to me! After all, if it wasn’t grits, then it had no place in a human, much less a baby diet, right? Or so I thought… Fast forward about six years and I am having lunch in a vegetarian restaurant near Santa Cruz, and lo and behold, there it is again: barley. Only this time it is paired with mushrooms in soup. Why not, I reasoned? Maybe Charlie was on to something. I ordered it. I ate it. I loved it. And I have never looked back. Now, I use barley often for all kinds of dishes, including breakfast cereals, soups and main dishes, and I love barley flour in muffins and quick breads. When it comes to grains, barley is a winner! According to the USDA, eating barley can improve many risk factors for cardiovascular disease including supporting healthy cholesterol levels. Just one cup of cooked barley gives you: Selenium, Niacin, Manganese, 2 mg Iron, 6.2 grams of fiber (soluble and insoluble) and less than 1 gram of fat.  All that along with great flavor, texture and versatility, what’s not to like? Shopping for barley is easy and fun. Here are the different ways you’ll find it: Pearled barley – The easiest barley to find, you have probably had this yummy grain in things like soup, but it has lots of other uses, too. Pearled barley is lightly milled to retain all of the germ and at least two thirds of the bran, which makes it a healthy choice to use for grain salads, soups, stews and chili, or as a stuffing for vegetables. Barley flakes — These are made from lightly toasted pearled barley rolled into flakes. Barley flour – This is great baking flour – delicious in cookies, cakes, muffins and quick breads. Replace some of your wheat flour with barley flour for added whole grain goodness! Hulled barley – This is not as commonly available but is the most nutritious barley you can purchase; the tough outer hull is polished off and the whole grain remains untouched. Barley Grits – These may be somewhat difficult to find. They are made from toasted barley kernels that have been cracked into smaller pieces. Ready to boost your body with beautiful barley? Here’s a good start:
  • Cook it up and keep it on hand to add to many favorite dishes. Here’s a good basic recipe for Simple Barley.
  • Add it to salads in summer and winter. This Barley Salad with Fresh Mint is so good and so is this Ham and Barley Salad.
  • Bake crackers with barley flour like these Three-Seed Rosemary Crackers.
  • Add it to stews. This Root Vegetable Stew with Beef and Barley really hits the spot as the perfect winter meal.
  • Add it to soup like we did in this delicious Barley Soup with Beef and Mushrooms.
  • Got a recipe for muffins or quick breads? Substitute ½ the flour with barley flour.
  • Make cereal out of cooked pearled barley or barley flakes or grits.
  • Make pilaf – use barley in place of rice.
  • Make your favorite casseroles with barley in place of other grains.
  • Use barley flakes in place of oatmeal when making cookies, or add them to bread for a chewy, lovely loaf!
Remember that barley is not a gluten free grain! This is especially important for people with allergies or sensitivities to gluten. Be sure to read labels carefully. Is barley beloved by you, too? Got a favorite way you enjoy it, or a favorite recipe? Let me know!
Category: Healthy Eating




Junia @ Mis Pensamientos says ...
I just made sweet corn barley sliders the other day: http://juniakk.blogspot.com/2011/01/sliders-salad.html and my favorite - roasted barley tea! http://juniakk.blogspot.com/2011/01/roasted-barley-tea.html
01/10/2011 5:07:14 AM CST
SusieBeeOnMaui (Eat Little, Eat Big) says ...
Thanks for all the recipes! I just cooked pearl barley for the first time last night. I toasted it first (smelled awesome) and then cooked it in broth. Cooled it and mixed some with roasted broccoli, rosemary, and scallions. Very tasty. The rest I put in the freezer for future use.
01/10/2011 1:38:37 PM CST
Kim Dodson says ...
I love barley in any way, shape or form. I just added a couple of handfuls to a pot of vegetable soup I have simmering on the stove, as a matter of fact! I prefer the hulled barley. It takes a bit longer to cook, but it's worth it.
01/12/2011 3:44:32 PM CST
Kathy Beltz says ...
Thank you for reminding me how yummy and great barley can be, and is! I will be sure to add it to my menu this week.
01/13/2011 12:07:30 PM CST
Marie says ...
Thank you for the wealth of information. Best information on healthly living I have found. Will take me a lot of time to try all these wonderful recepies. Thank You
01/14/2011 9:26:08 AM CST
Jamie says ...
I love barley, I make a barley/carrot/kale and vegetable broth stew that is soooooo good in the winter. I also use it along with a good Mexica soft cheese to stuff Poblano Peppers it is spicy earthy goodness.
01/14/2011 2:16:24 PM CST
Sarah says ...
We add barley to our overnight slow cooked oatmeal using steel cut oats. It gives it great texture. Thanks for the nutritional info on this.
01/14/2011 10:43:06 PM CST
Maddy says ...
Barley is low glycemic!
01/16/2011 7:09:04 PM CST
Joey Rossouw says ...
It may sound like advertising but I need to know what cereals / foods contain hulled barley - I want to replace my oats with hulled barley there is no health shop in this little one-horse town of ours.
01/16/2013 8:40:35 AM CST
Natosha Kennebrew says ...
What kind of barley would I use in a smoothie?
10/22/2013 3:36:48 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@NATOSHA - You can really add any type of barley to a smoothie. Just make sure that the barley is cooked and that when added to the blender it is blended thoroughly.
10/28/2013 4:19:05 PM CDT
lsoley says ...
I just called my local whole foods, and they do not have hulled barley, but they do have hull-les barley, which from the description, sounds the same, is it, and if not, are there any whole foods markets that do have hulled barley in the Philadelphia/south jersey region
02/17/2014 7:43:34 PM CST
Linda R. Smith says ...
What adjustments do I need to make to the simple barley recipe if I have the hulled barley? I bought hulled barley and am finding it hard to find recipes that are specifically for it. Thanks, Linda R. Smith
02/26/2014 4:06:16 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@LSOLEY - Hulled and Hull-less barley will be the exact same!
03/04/2014 3:37:40 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@LINDA - You can use hulled barley but the amount of water should be increased and the cook time will be longer. Pearled barley is steamed and polished, whereas hulled barley just has the bran removed.
03/04/2014 5:41:36 PM CST
Steven says ...
I was thinking about barley bread. Does Whole Foods have any type of barley bread? Thanks
02/25/2015 8:13:42 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@STEVEN - Our exact options and vendors will differ between stores. Check with your local store directly to see if they have this in stock.
02/26/2015 4:16:56 PM CST
Genevieve Medas says ...
I would like to know how I can find some Golden Barley Cereal to buy! Thank you!
04/14/2015 8:19:30 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@GENEVIEVE - Our exact products will differ between stores. Check with your local store directly to see if they have this in stock or reach out to the vendor directly to see where they sell this item.
04/16/2015 3:18:39 PM CDT