Friday, February 8, 2013

Food Facts: Barley

On Fridays, I volunteer at a rehabilitation hospital.
You go girl!
I'm basically a diet clerk, in the Nutrition Department. I read the patient's nutrition prescription, and work with them to see that they complete their menu's on time. Patients who need help are so appreciative when they get help - they're so nice to work with. Some patients need help because they can't use their arms or hands - maybe they've suffered a stroke, are diabetic and are recovering from an amputation, or have some sort of head trauma due to a serious accident &/or an operation.

Each day, patients choose meals, for the following day. Today, I noticed on a few menu's that beef barley soup was being offered. I'm not crazy about the beef soups, but I love barley. Back in college, on those cold winter days, I used to make myself hot barley cereal with some cinnamon, brown sugar and a little apple sauce. When I was helping the patients today, every time I read that beef barley soup menu item, I would think, "Why haven't I made barley must be years!"
Did you know that February's Grain of the Month,
(according to the Whole Grains Council)
is barley?

Yeah, I know, it's barley ...who cares? Ever since the oat and the oat bran craze of the late 1980's and early 1990's, barley hasn't been taken so cereal, I mean serious. Now with quinoa on the scene, forget it ...barley's days of getting respect, like it did back in the 14th century, are long gone!
Sorry barley, even though you were all that in 1324, 
when Edward II of England used 3 grains of dry barley to standardized the inch, 
you're as good as a dismissed US Colonel, I mean kernel.
I don't like some PowerPoints either,
Army Col. Lawrence Selin
Health-wise, barley is a great grain to add to the diet. Barley has the highest fiber of all the whole grains (17% fiber compared to 12% in whole wheat)! It's not just that barley is high in fiber, it's the type of fiber found in barley that makes it special. Barley is a great source of soluble beta-glucan fiber, which helps to:
Reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol, and so the risk of heart disease,
Control blood sugar, a good to know with diabetes on the rise,
Improve immune system functions,
Provide a great source of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals,
Promote satiety, which is great if you're watching your weight!

Some research has even shown that barley is radio-protective, which means it can help bodies stand up better against chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments.

How can you tell if you're getting the full benefits when eating barley? Look for hulled barley (slow to cook) or hull-less barley (a bit faster to cook). Pearl barley is not really a whole grain, but it's better than the fully processed and refined barley.

Barley can be easily used to break up the monotony of eating rice, pasta or the ultra-hip, quinoa. Check out these great recipes: Click Here.
So, do you like barley?
Or is it a grain that you don't even consider eating/cooking these days?
Got a favorite recipe using barley? 
Share here, please, 
Train Smart Today!

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