Monday, December 31, 2012

Glaming Barley

It's no longer fashionable to count just calories.  Calories do count in the whole scheme of things but they don't count as much as nutrition.  An example:

Alright raise your hand if you have purposely cooked or have ate barley.  Here are some nutritional facts about barley.  I know - b-o-r-i-n-g.  I'll be brief and to the point - info from USDA and the ADA (American Diabetes Assoc.)
  • The glycemic index (GI) is low.
  • It contains 5-8% gluten.
  • High in dietary soluble fiber; particularly beta-gluten soluble fiber. Research shows that barley beta-gluten soluble fiber promotes healthy blood sugar by slowing glucose absorption. 
  • High in insoluble fiber helping with bowel function.
  • Cholesterol free.
  • Low fat.  (1/2 gram of fat and only 100 calories per half cup serving.) 
  • Vitamins A, B2, B6, B12, C, D, E & K.  Minerals include niacin (Vitamin B3), thiamine (Vitamin B1), selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and copper.
  • Contains protein.
  • Contains antioxidants.
  • Contains phytochemicals.
  • Low in sodium. 
Barley, Hordeum vulgare, is an annual grass like plant grown world wide.  It may be the oldest known food grain.  Currently it is number five most grown cereal crop.

If I tell you it is grown as a base for brewing beer or other fermented beverages you may have an "ah ha" moment.  It's also used for breakfast cereal, in soups, casseroles, breads and cakes.  Both the straw and grain are fed as fodder to animals.

For getting maximum nutrients, always opt for whole barley (or hulled barley). No doubt, it takes longer time for preparation. But, you can consider soaking whole barley grain overnight in order to minimize cooking time.
Nutritional supplements do not contain the important fiber - one of the major keys to it's benefits.
Barley is an important ingredient in vegan and vegetarian diets.  It's a nutty flavored grain when used as a hot cereal. 
Barley can be the headliner or a supporting actor.  It does well at both.  It absorbs flavors easily.  The nutritional value is above rice, potatoes, pasta and other grains.
For additional health facts and look up barley.  Seriously, this little grain has so many exceptional health benefits we all should be eating it at least once a day!
Today I'm making a crock pot of healthiness.  A ham bone, chicken broth, broccoli, onions, barley, kasha, Ouenoa, dried cranberries and lentils.  The trick with using a variety of ingredients is they each have their best attribute.  Combine and the benefits as well as the taste is enhanced.
Barley can be grown from seed.  It doesn't like temperatures above 55 degrees.  I've seen plant starts of barley used as an ornamental and they are beautiful with the nodding seed heads.  Plant winter barley in October and Spring barley in January.  It's similar to raising wheat.  Hand weed and don't water too much.      
How to Grow Barley | Guide to Growing Barley
From the Heirloom Organics web site.

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