The Hater’s Guide to Barley
For every reason you thought you disliked barley, there’s a better reason to give it another try. So you think you hate barley. Maybe you had a bad experience trying to cook it. Maybe you don’t know how to cook with it. Or maybe you couldn’t even get that far because you didn’t know where to find it in the grocery store. Whatever reason you think you hate barley, there’s a barley rebuttal. And that rebuttal will prove that you should give barley another chance.
The complaint: “I don’t like the gummy, clumpy texture of barley.”
In favour of barley: There are a few options if you think eating barley means learning to love a “gummy” texture. For starters, make sure you’re cooking your barley correctly — if you don’t love its texture, you might be either undercooking or overcooking it. Remember that when cooking barley on the stove, it will take a while: bring the barley to a boil then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for at least 30 minutes. Check on it often so you can stop cooking the barley when it has reached your preferred level of chewiness. And be sure to drain any extra water that’s left over.
You also don’t have to stick to pearl or pot barley. There are other ways to incorporate barley into your diet if you don’t like its texture even when it’s cooked properly! Try substituting all purpose flour with some barley flour when baking — the ratio of all purpose flour to barley flour will change depending on the recipe. Your muffins, loaves and pancakes will still have that subtle, nutty taste from the barley but there won’t be any gummy, clumpy texture at all.
The complaint: “Sure, it’s packed with fibre, but I’d rather eat bread or rice.”
In favour of barley: When it comes to healthy grains, there’s no beating barley. Barley contains significantly more fibre than bread as well as white, brown and wild rice. Additionally, barley contains both soluble and insoluble fibre: the insoluble fibre aids digestive health while the soluble fibre, known as beta-glucans, have been scientifically shown to reduce “bad” cholesterol and support heart health. Barley is also packed with essential vitamins and minerals, like B vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids. On top of all that, it’s low in sugar and in fat — it might even help with the prevention and management of diabetes. Barley has the lowest Glycemic Index of all grains, meaning it keeps you feeling full for longer. Simply, barley is a super-food with health benefits that are unmatched by other grains.
The complaint: “Barley just sits in my pantry.”
In favour of barley: If this sounds like you, maybe you don’t realize the many ways you can cook with barley. While it’s known by most as an ingredient in soups and stews, barley in its various forms can be incorporated into recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. [NB to developer, link to recipes section] From using barley flour for pancakes or waffles in the morning, to using pearl or pot barley in chili for lunch, to making a summery barley salad for dinner, it’s a grain that can be used at any time of day. That includes snacks and desserts — try using barley flakes in a snacktime granola or pearl barley in an after-dinner pudding.
The complaint: “I can’t find it in the grocery store.”
In favour of barley: Barley is carried at most major grocery stores across Canada, like Safeway, Save-On- Foods and Costco. Where you look for barley in the grocery store will depend on the form you’d like to buy it in. If you’re going to try baking with barley flour, check the baking aisle or the bulk section. For pearl or pot barley, look in the section of the grocery store where the legumes and dried beans are kept.
The complaint: “My kids won’t eat it.”
In favour of barley: If you have fussy eaters in your family, try experimenting with barley flour or flakes to incorporate the super-grain into kid-friendly snacks like waffles, granola bars or dough for pizza. In its flour form, kids won’t be able to identify the barley they think they don’t like. Also, try to get creative with barley. If your kids have only ever had the grain in a beef and barley soup or plain as a rice substitute, consider adding it into other dishes your kids love. Barley can easily be added to dishes that even the pickiest eaters love, like lasagna, scalloped potatoes and casseroles. There’s no reason why your whole family can’t enjoy the taste and health benefits of barley!