You may think it’s more difficult to eat healthy over the holiday season, but many of your favourite holiday foods are stuffed with nutrition. When you practice portion control, tweak preparation techniques, and have only a few treats, you’ll cruise through the season with energy and well-being. Let’s update your recipe file to include these three delicious holiday dishes with barley.

Stovetop Barley Stuffing with Sausage and Apricots

Stuffing is the quintessential holiday side dish for Christmas dinner. The unexpected flavour and texture twists in this classic sausage stuffing are from the whole grain barley, sweet dried apricots and crunchy pecans. Toasting the barley before adding the other ingredients enhances its rich nutty flavour. The preparation is stovetop, so you have the food safety angle covered, as it’s often recommended to cook the stuffing separate from the turkey. Many families have a signature stuffing ingredient, why not make barley your ingredient!

Jane’s Meal Planning Tip
To reduce the amount of sodium in this recipe you can use a low sodium turkey sausage. Sometimes I swap the ½ cup (125 mL) chopped dried apricots for cranberries to give a festive flavour and colour.

Roasted Squash, Shallots and Barley in Brown Butter

Butternut squash is a favourite winter vegetable and holiday side dish. This GoBarley recipe turns up the volume on the traditional vegetable with the rich seasonings of turmeric, cardamom and cumin. I always recommend taking time to plan out the supporting cast to the turkey, and this must-have dish offers your guests a hearty, savoury-sweet combination far beyond the usual mashed potatoes. Enjoy the vibrant flavours and colours of this side throughout the holidays, not just beside the turkey.

Jane’s Meal Planning Tip
Make sure you plan time (about 45 minutes) to cook the barley ahead. Cook extra barley, package it in 1 cup (250 mL) containers and freeze to have on hand to add to fillings, soups and salads.

Barley, Beer and Cheese Muffins

I’m always searching for new savoury recipes to serve at Boxing Day brunch and for the neighbourhood New Year’s Eve Party. These easy to make barley, beer and cheese muffins are perfect for mini sandwiches or sliders. Plus they go well with fresh fruit and coffee as you take a leisurely break from formal meals throughout the season. Enjoy this ideal recipe option with minimal preparation and clean-up at casual holiday events with friends and family.

Jane’s Meal Planning Tip
The recipe makes 12 muffins and can also be made into a loaf. Both can be easily made the morning of while savouring togetherness in the kitchen over the holidays.

Have fun adding barley, the versatile nutrient packed whole grain to meals and snacks. It will keep you and your family energized over the busy season!
Wishing you Happy Holidays and I look forward to sharing more Barley Balance goodness with you in 2016.