Definition: Whole grain barley is a healthy high-fiber, high-protein whole grain boasting numerous health benefits. When cooked, barley has a chewy texture and nutty flavor, similar to brown rice. Although soup is the most popular way to eat barley, you can use it like any other grain such as couscous or rice. Serve a vegetarian curry or vegetable stir-fry over barley instead of rice or make a barley pilaf.
See also: 8 best barley recipes to try
How to cook barley:
Cooking barley is similar to cooking rice. Cover 1 cup of pearl barley with 2 cups of water or vegetable broth and simmer for 30-40 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Or, try using a rice cooker. Add 2 1/2 cups water per cup of barley. Pre-soak barley in plenty of water to cut down on the overall cooking time. Barley can be pre-soaked for an hour or overnight. Pre-soaking will reduce the cooking time to about fifteen minutes.
Barley and your health:
According to the FDA, barley's soluble fiber reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and can lower cholesterol. But that's not all that this amazing food does! Barley also contains insoluble fiber, which reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes and colon cancer. One cup of cooked barley provides 193 calories, 6 grams of fiber and 3.5 grams of protein. With less than one gram of fat per serving, barley is a virtually fat-free food and is also cholesterol-free.
Types of Barley
Barley is available in natural food stores in the bulk bins or the baking section. Some regular grocers stock barley in the natural foods aisle or next to the beans and lentils. Dehulled barley, or hulless barley, is unprocessed and takes longer to cook than pearl or pearled barley, which is more common. Quick cooking barley is just as healthy, yet takes only 10 minutes to cook. Try adding a handful of quick cooking barley to a simmering pot of soup.
98% of barley grown in the United States will never make it into your soup! Barley is refined to make barley malt - a key ingredient in beer, and is also grown for feeding animals used for food.
See also: More whole grains to choose from
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Try some of these healthy barley recipes: