This versatile grain can be used as a substitute for rice, added to soups and stews or eaten alone as a breakfast cereal. It has a nutty flavor, is high in fiber and helps lower cholesterol, boosts intestinal health, provides fuel for liver and muscle cells, slows the buildup of plaque in blood vessels, helps prevent gallstones, decreases symptoms of arthritis, is believed to protect against childhood asthma and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and colon and breast cancer (in post-menopausal women).
A cup of cooked barley has 270 calories and provides the following daily recommended amounts of important nutrients: 54.4 percent dietary fiber, 52 percent selenium, 37 percent tryptophan, 32 percent copper, 31 percent manganese, 24 percent phosphorous and 14.2 percent niacin.
Try this recipe for a tasty way to incorporate barley into your diet.
Whole Foods Market's Barley Risotto
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 oz. diced Virginia ham
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 c. pearled barley
4 to 5 cups chicken broth
1/3 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh chives
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add ham and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until onion softens, about 4 minutes. Stir in barley and cook 1 more minute. Add 1 cup of the broth and simmer, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 7 to 8 minutes. Continue cooking and adding more broth a cup at a time until barley grains are tender with just a little bite at the center, about 45 minutes.
Remove risotto from heat and stir in Parmesan. Taste and add salt if needed, and lots of black pepper. Serve garnished with chives.
Entree size 2 cups
450 calories (110 from fat)
12 g total fat (3.5 g saturated fat)
30 mg cholesterol
770 mg sodium
72 g total carbohydrate (14 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar)
17 g protein