Boredom – it can strike when you most expect it – like sitting on a subway. McDonalds, understanding exactly what riders are feeling, has an ad up that says, “You look like you need something to do”, with a photo of the latest menu item, a frothy caramel macchiato. The message: If bored, go to McDonald’s. (This is not an endorsement, just a translation.) What they’re also saying though, is try something new. I agree! Where we differ? They’re pushing caramel macchiatos, I’m pushing barley.
Barley’s the “newest” ancient grain. It’s exceptionally high in soluble fiber – the kind that collects fatty acids so they don’t collect on your heart and very low on the glycemic index. (It won’t lead to a spike in blood sugar, and is significantly lower than brown rice, whole wheat and oats.*)
It’s also cheap and sold in bulk. I love bulk food. The bulk food section is the 21st century version of the Precambrian savanna. The place where the gatherer goes to scan the crops, pick, taste, and collect. The foods have all been stripped of their marketing clothes. No packages, logos or flashy claims. They stand exposed. Nothing but a name- to assist the modern gatherer. And a price – to remind you not to scavenge.
Spices mingle with beans and grains.
Barley though, has never gained a strong following in the West. It’s more commonly used for malt (made from germinated barley) – the key ingredient in beer and added to baked goods. It doesn’t help that it’s an almost painfully slow cooking food. (It can take an hour, shorter with an over-night soak.) “Pearled” barley speeds things up, but don’t do it! Pearled has had the outer bran removed, resulting in much lower fiber.
I’ve been using it as a substitute for brown rice (it’s much chewier though) and it’s been finding its way into yogurt and alongside vegetables.
Bottom line, barley will provide a workout for both your stove and your mouth, but those “flaws” translate into an incredibly flavorful, slow digesting grain.
Barley at breakfast: with yogurt, grated ginger and honey
Barley at lunch: with roasted squash and chives
Click here for the “Roasted Squash&Barley Salad” recipe.
Any barley recipes or tips to share? Other “ancient” grains you’ve discovered?
Grains Don’t Want You To Eat Them (Why not to overindulge on grains)
How An Onion Saved A Marriage (Barley Vegetable Soup Recipe)
If You Can’t Cook, Cook This (Squash Soup Recipe)
Does Instant Gratification Come At A Cost (Oatmeal Talk)
*Look up foods on the Glycemic Index (Click on GI Database on left side.)
A big thank you to Fishs Eddy for providing the “Aztek” pottery.
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