Health Fitness

How to flavor barley, cooking ideas for this healthy whole grain

Barley is a plant that can withstand extreme temperatures and has a short growing season. About 95% of the barley grown in the United States is used as animal feed or to make beer. Like all grains, the outer hull of barley must be removed to make it edible. Whole barley (husked barley) is the most nutritious form and the best to buy.

Unfortunately, most grocery stores carry pearl barley, which is more processed. The size determines the amount of bran and germ that has been removed. The larger the pearl, the less it has been ground and the more nutrients and fiber it has retained. Whole barley can be found in health food stores. It has three times more protein than rice and, like oats, can help lower cholesterol. You should also know that it contains small amounts of gluten.

You can get barley flakes and cook them as an alternative to hot oatmeal. Like oatmeal, it can be flavored with cinnamon and complemented with raisins or berries. You can also use it as a substitute for oatmeal when making cookies. Bob’s Red Mill is a producer that includes the bran and germ and therefore maintains the nutritional value of the grain. Without these parts, you are left with the same starch found in white flour.

Speaking of flour, you can substitute up to ½ cup of barley flour for every 2-3 cups of all-purpose flour called for in a bread or other recipe. Try this easy bagel recipe, which only uses barley flour. Whisk 1 cup of barley flour with 1½ teaspoons of baking powder, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Separately beat one egg, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and ½ cup of water. Add the dry ingredients and add 1/3 cup of the grapes. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes (until golden brown) filling muffin cups halfway. It should make 6 muffins. Like white flour, barley flour can be used as a thickener. Give it a try the next time you make a sauce or sauce.

You end up having to cook whole barley longer than pearl barley. It can take up to twice as long to cook, in fact I guess that’s why it hasn’t become as popular as other starches. You can reduce the time by soaking it overnight (if you’re good at planning ahead). However, a pressure cooker will reduce the time to about 40 minutes. While other grains double in size when cooked, barley expands to about four times its grain size.

Because it takes so long to cook, most recipes call for you to cook it before adding it to other foods, unless you’re using a crock pot. So if you’re just adding it to stews, soups, salads, or casseroles, you need to cook it first. It has a great nutty flavor that is hard not to like. Pair it with parsnips to expand that nutty flavor. For vegetarians it also adds a chewy texture that makes up for the lack of meat. Adding beans to the pot makes it a complete protein and makes for more leftovers.

If you have a favorite recipe that calls for potatoes, rice, or pasta, give it an extra twist by substituting barley for these starches. It will be a pleasant surprise for both you and your family. Barley can handle any kind of spice you want to throw at it, whether it’s hot peppers or slightly aromatic herbs. I like to use Szechuan peppers with barley, along with thyme and sage. Whether you’re sweetening the flavor with cinnamon for breakfast or using it in a hearty soup, feel free to season the barley with any of your favorite seasonings.

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