17 Jan 2008

Bring on the Barley

Barley is the oldest cereal known to man, dating back over 8,000 years. It was used in Abyssinia, Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, China, Tibet and Nepal where it is still a staple food.

In modern times most barley is used for animal feed. The balance is processed into Malt to be used in the production of beer and whiskey, in malted milk, hot drinks and flavorings for other foods. A small amount is turned into pearl barley, flour, flakes and grits and sold in those forms or added to breakfast cereals, breads, snacks and soups.

Barley is high in Vitamin A and contains phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, zinc, niacin and folate. It contains both soluble and insoluble fiber and helps maintain a healthy colon and reduce cholesterol levels. Approx 10% of the barley weight is protein. It has the capacity to lower blood cholesterol and moderate blood glucose levels.

Barley flour can be used in combination with other flours when baking and can be used to thicken sauces and soups. It's advantage over wheat is it's good levels of soluble fibre, whereas wheat is very low in soluble fiber.

Sprout some barley to put in your salads or grow barley grass to add when juicing your fruit and vegetables. Note that green barley juice contains 11 times the calcium in cows' milk and nearly five times the iron content of spinach so it is excellent for Vegans. For information on sprouting barley visit the Sprout People.


When we eat vegetarian foods, we needn't worry about what
kind of disease our food died from; this makes a joyful meal!
John Harvey Kellogg - Founder of Kellogg Foods


Grilled Portabellas with Barley and Basil
From BarleyFoods

1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
1 tbsps olive oil
10 small white mushrooms, finely chopped
5 large basil leaves, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium zucchini, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1-1/2 tsps salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup low-fat Italian dressing
1 tbsp Vegan Dijon-style mustard
8 large Portabella mushrooms, stems trimmed

In small pan with cover bring 1-1/2 cups water to a boil. Add barley and return to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 35 minutes. In large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add white mushrooms, basil, garlic, zucchini, onion, bell pepper, salt and pepper. Cook 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cooked barley. In bowl combine dressing and mustard. Brush Portabella mushrooms with dressing mixture. Grill over medium-hot coals, top side up for 8 minutes. Turn Portabellas and fill with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup barley mixture each. Grill 5 minutes

Banana Barley Cookies
From Living and Raw Foods
by Rose Adams/Jackson Wu

1 1/2 cups barley (soaked)
3 bananas
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup dates
1/3 cup water
1 cup chopped walnuts

Add a whole peeled orange and 1 tsp. of orange peel to make barley orange cookies.
Put all ingredients in a blender and mix thoroughly (except walnuts). Add walnuts to mixture after blender. Place batter on a teflex sheet. Dehydrate at 100F/40C for approximately 8-10 hours. Be sure to turn cookies after 4 hours.

Barley Bread
From Bob's Red Mill
Contributed by Phyllis Potts

1 tbsp active dry yeast
2 tsp brown sugar, divided
1 cup warm water
2 cups barley flour
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup garbanzo (chickpea) flour

Lightly oil a cookie sheet with nonstick spray and set aside. Place yeast in a small bowl with 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar and 1/2 cup warm water. Put in a warm place to proof. Put remaining 1/2 cup warm water into a large mixing bowl, add 1 cup of barley flour and mix vigorously. Add remaining 1-1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar, oil and salt and mix well. Add softened yeast mixture and beat briskly, then add bean flour and enough remaining barley flour to make dough that can be kneaded. Place on a barley-floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Shape into two round loaves and place on prepared cookie sheet; slash top of loaves diagonally across tops. Let rise until doubled in bulk. Oil tops lightly, if desired, for more crispness. Preheat oven to 350F/175C and bake for 1 hour using middle rack of oven. Remove from cookie sheet onto wire rack and cool. Makes 2 rounds (20 slices)

Barley Water has been popular for thousands of years to improve the complexion and is said to be drunk daily by British Royal family for the same reason. Also nourishing for children, those with digestive problems and when ill. I use this simple Ayurvedic recipe, adding ginger or lemon juice to it.

Barley Water
From Maharishi Ayurveda
This water mixture is for someone who has low agni (digestion). It is very easy to assimilate and nurturing for fat tissue which in turn makes good quality bone tissue.

2 tbsp cracked barley or barley flour
2 pinch salt
4 cups water

Combine above ingredients and cook for about 15 minutes so that it is some what overcooked. Use a filter or strainer to obtain barley water. If you use cracked barley instead of barley flour, you will need to place the mixture in a blender for a few minutes prior to straining.

For Vata body type: add 1/8 tsp whole cumin to barley mixture while cooking.
For Pitta body type: add 1/8 tsp fennel to barley mixture while cooking.
For Kapha body type: add 2 thin slices fresh ginger to barley mixture while cooking.

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Marion said...

I was brought up on barley, and still love it. Quite often, for dinner, I'll just cook them with broth and herbs and serve like rice. It's sooo good.

I was surprised to read that such a small amount goes to food.

Rob said...

Barley never came to my mind as something I would crave. Yet, I discovered that barley stands side-by-side with oats as an FDA-endorsed food for promoting heart health by lowering cholesterol. I have since set out to explore how barley could be enjoyed in something other than a malted beverage.

As it turns out, a barley pilaf can be a delicious alternative to the rice, potato or pasta “starch” in protein/starch/vegetable triad my mom insists constitutes a meal.

A pilaf can be cooked to complement any number of dishes. Adapt by incorporating any number of spices. Start with the basic pilaf and create from there.

So, you ask "why don't more people eat barley." At least part of the answer lies with the fact that cooking barley can be a bit tricky. If your not careful, you might find your pilaf with hot cereal qualities---perhaps great for a cold morning but not the best for a dinner. But if you take a bit of care, you barley pilaf can be a great nutritious alternative to high glycemic, low fiber carbs.

Barley Pilaf
4 Servings of About 1 Cup Each

1 Cup Rinsed Pearled Barley
2-2.25 Cups Water
1 Small Onion-Chopped Small
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil*
½ Teaspoon Turmeric
Salt & Pepper to Taste

*to double-up on the cholesterol lowering abilities of this dish, I formulated an extra-virgin olive oil with added plant sterols. This olive oil is available throught the Kardea Nutrition website

Heat a sauce pan over medium heat. When pan is hot, add olive oil and chopped onion. Saute for a few minutes. Add rinsed peal barley and saute for 5 or so minutes, stirring regularly and making sure that barley does not burn or stick to bottom of pan. Add turmeric and then water to the hot barley and stir. Cover, lower heat and cook until tender but still a bit chewy (30 minutes). Remove cover and on very low heat, let steam escape. Periodically fluff to prevent sticking to bottom of pan. Serve when barley appears about the consistency of steamed rice. This all may sound a bit cumbersome, but it works. The turmeric also give the barley a beautiful yellow color, accenting the visual appeal of an entire meal.

Nutritional Facts
(per cup of cooked barley pilaf)
Calorie: 240 Calories from Fat: 70
Total Fat: 8g from olive oil; monounsaturated: 5.7g; polyunsaturate fat: 1.15g; saturated fat: 1.15g (4.3% of total calories); Trans fat: 0.0g.
Cholesterol: 0.0
Total Carbohydrates: 40g; Total Fiber: 8g; Soluble Fiber: 2g.
Protein: 5g.
Plant Sterol: .25g

You can try adding any number of spices. Try curry or cumin when serving lean meats or roasted root vegetables. Try ginger and currents when serving fish. Serve with a kidney bean chili or black bean salad (recipe in next blog) to create a meal that delivers 3-4g of soluble fiber.

Greenearth said...

Another inspiring entry that will have me back in the kitchen trying out more recipes. Just love this food.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

I could eat barley every day... never thought to put it in cookies, though! Sounds like something that's worth a try!

Leia-Ann said...

Thanks for the recipe. I am not a vegan, but it sounds great!


Beautiful Frugal Life said...

Do you happen to know how long barley keeps? I bought a bag about a year ago and haven't used it yet, mostly because I'm not really sure what to do with it, how to cook it or how it tastes.

Thanks for the information.


urban vegan said...

You should have an honorary doctorate in nutrition, Jackie. I learn so much from your blog.

Sheila said...

Jackie, this is another great post. Your blog is a real service to those of us attempting to eat better.

Healthy Tips said...

Never heard of barley.. Gonna try it..

(PS, couldn't find an email on your blog, but I was wondering if you'd like to exchange links with my blog?)

Peterson Toscano said...

After nearly overdosing on Sweet Brown Rice (love the stuff!) I decided to dip into my barley supply. In my rice cooker i put the barley, some lentils, crushed garlic gloves and a veggie soup cube.

As it finished cooking, I chopped up some beets, carrots and napa cabbage. Put these on top of the cooked barley and lentils, added extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast and went to town!

CyberCelt said...

We eat a lot of barley. There is nothing better in a good vegetable soup.

aTxVegn said...

I love barley but can't eat it too often since it's not gluten free. The recipes look great and I would love to try those cookies!

Isabelle - WEGO Health said...

Dear Jacki,

My name is Isabelle and I'm a member of the WEGO Health Community []. I’ve been spending some time on your site and because of your involvement in the vegetarian and vegan communities, I wanted to get in touch with you to let you know a little bit about what we're doing here at WEGO Health. We are a new health website with a growing nutrition community. Our mission is articulated nicely here [].

I really think our members would enjoy your site and I’m wondering if you would be interested in introducing yourself and your blog via our message boards? Our community has a great deal of interest in vegetarian and vegan diets and I think they would love to hear your thoughts and learn about your experiences. Many members of our community have already shared their questions and experiences with the various forms of vegetarianism on this thread [].

While our editorial team is currently working to pull together some vegan-specific resources, I was hoping you could provide some feedback on the vegetarian resources we currently have. These pages are largely geared towards those who are considering making the transition from an omnivore to vegetarian diet and we’d greatly appreciate your thoughts on how helpful these resources would be for beginners:

Vegetarian Diet []
Vegetarian Protein []

Thanks in advance for checking out our site and I hope to hear from you soon.

Best regards,
WEGO Health Community
expert-supported health communities


dreamy said...

It's interesting to see the recipes for barley :) Very different compared to how we do it in asia. We usually just cook the barley in water and add sugar. Or it is also use to make sweet dessert soup which uses Gingko Biloba and bean curd skin.

Shinade said...

Hi Jackie,
I am here to let you know that you have been tagged.

Now I am running to hide...LOL!!

It really is a neat meme for building up your ranks.

Hope to see you but please I will understand if you are not interested. Trust me I get tired of memes too, but, the rules of this one say the first ones in had to here I am.

I hope you have a fantastic week,

bazu said...

Oh I loooove barley! And as usual, you have gathered a really tempting array of recipes!

Naomi said...

This post brought back great memories Jackie. My grandmother used barley in soups. People forget how good it is for you. Nice post. Great recipes too.

Heather in Beautiful BC said...

Jackie, your recipes sound great. I'm not a Vegan but do like to make some of the dishes!

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Greenearth said...

Thank you for your kind words.

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