Wednesday 2 January 2013

Why You Need This Stuff In Your Kitchen: Barley

Do you ever find yourself getting into random discussions at the grocery store?  It seems to happen to me a lot, perhaps because I sometimes purchase ingredients that other folks find unusual.  I'm often asked "What do you do with that?"

I had just such a conversation recently in the soup aisle, after picking up a bag of pot barley.

"My grandma used to put that stuff in soup," a stranger said, "But I didn't know anyone still cooked with it.  What do you do with it?"

If cooking-from-scratch had a missionary movement I would gladly be part of it, so I was happy to reply.  

"I use it in soups like your grandma did, and I also cook it risotto-style and serve it as a side dish.  I cook it in stock sometimes and use it in place of rice in recipes like cabbage rolls and stuffed peppers.  I chill it, and use it in salads. I cook it in milk and use it to make pudding.  Sometimes I add leftover barley to the dough when I'm baking bread."

"Oh...."  she replied,  "I'm not much of a cook myself.  I wouldn't want all that work."

Ah, well. You can't convert everyone.  :)

Both my husband and I enjoy barley's nut-like flavour and its consistency, which resembles pasta. 

Combined with legumes, dairy products, or nuts, barley makes a tasty, protein-rich meatless main dish, and we appreciate its stick-to-your-ribs quality.  It fills us up and leaves us feeling full for a long time. 

Barley brings some important nutritional benefits to the table too:

A cup of cooked whole grain barley provides 54.4% of your daily fiber requirement, and 52% of the day's selenium.  It's also a good source of tryptophan, copper, manganese, and phosphorous, and of the B vitamin niacin.

Barley's fibre content makes it highly effective at reducing cholesterol, and preventing atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries due to plaque build up).  

Recent studies indicate that barley fiber is even more effective than oats at regulating glucose and insulin responses in persons with Type 2 diabetes.  

Barley is also a contributing factor in preventing breast cancer in post-menopausal women and it helps to prevent gallstones.

The niacin in barley helps to sustain cardiovascular health, and its selenium helps sustain metabolic pathways, including thyroid health.  

The copper in barley is thought to be helpful in reducing arthritis symptoms.

That's quite a list of benefits for such a humble, inexpensive foodstuff! Grandma was on to something.  Barley provides us with some big bang for our grocery buck.
This recipe is linked to Hearth and Soul Blog Hop hosted by The 21st Century HousewifePremeditated Leftovers, Elsa Cooks, Savoring Today, and Penniless Parenting.

Hearth & Soul Hop