Get to Know Your Grains: Pearl Barley (Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches)

1 Aug

I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a household whose carbohydrate consumption came from potatoes, white rice, white bread, and enriched wheat pasta.  Who can blame my mom?  She was feeding a family consisting of two carnivorous meataterians who abhorred cruciferous veggies and anything “new”, herself- a lifelong locavore gardener and diet dabbler, and me- an angsty teen vegetarian weirded out by beans- on a limited budget in a suburb where access to alternative choices was limited.  As can be imagined in such circumstances, by the time I graduated from college the thought of consuming another baked potato or serving white rice next to baked chikin was enough to fully extinguish my appetite.

When I started branching out as an adult, I have to admit that it took a little getting used to when experimenting with grains that had actual flavor, complexity and mouth-feel.  I wasn’t used to really having to chew carbs.  Fast forward to the present and I’m pretty sure that at this point I could differentiate between most grains in a blind taste test based on texture and flavor (Uh oh… Did I just discover a new, lame party trick for myself!?)

I’m normally a Whole Foods shopper, but in the un-suburban Stepford-esque utopian community I live in there is a pretty fancy HEB supermarket within easy jogging distance so every once and awhile I will shop there with the Baby Bird especially since they installed a “Buddy Bucks” machine that gives kiddos points for every Buddy Buck they earn while being helpful shoppers (I don’t know for sure, but the CEO must have a toddler!).  I’ve noticed that they have a pretty impressive bulk including nuts, spices, “healthier” treats, and grains.  I’ve also noticed that normally the only people shopping the grains when I’m there is myself and the Bird who always points out to me that everyone else is “getsing the Sunny Fruits snacks” instead.

It’s human nature to default to the things we are most familiar with, so I can only assume that is what is happening with grains- if you’re not familiar maybe you avoid them!?  That makes me sad because I LOVE grains, so I thought I’d start a little informal series spotlighting some really great grains.

Barley seemed like a great place to start because I made an awesome, easy meal with it several days ago.  And because most people think of beer first when they think of barley which, even though great beer is awesomeness, totally sells barely short. In this recipe I used pearl barley which is refined slightly for quicker cooking time.

A bit about pearl barley…

Pearl (or “pearled) barley is a wheat free- but NOT gluten free– grain option.  Pearl barley is barley that has had part of its outer bran layer removed along with the hull making it, technically, a refined grain.  Barley however contains fiber throughout the entire kernel and not just the outer layer so it retains beneficial fiber and associated nutrients through processing.  Pearl barley cooks much quicker than whole grain barley.  Look for pearl barley that is tan in color as opposed to white to ensure it has retained some of its outer bran layer for maximum nutrient density.

Nutrition Information (1/2 c cooked pearl barley)

  • Calories- 97
  • Carbohydrates- 22 g
  • Fiber- 3 g
  • Total Fat- .35 g
    • Saturated- .5 g
    • Monounsaturated- .5 g
    • Polyunsaturated- .15 g
    • Omega-3 Fatty Acids- 16.5 mg
    • Omega-6 Fatty Acids- 101.5 mg
  •  Protein- 1.75 g
  • Vitamin K- .6 mcg
  • Thiamin- .05 mg
  • Riboflavin- .05 mg
  • Niacin- 1.6 mg
  • Vitamin B6- .1mg
  • Folate- 12.5 mcg
  • Calcium- 8.6 mg
  • Iron- 1 mg

Go Running, Mama!- Get to Know Your Grains: Pearl Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches

Pearl Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches

  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 lb (about two) heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 peach
  • several sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Himalayan sea salt
  • pepper

Directions: Boil barley in a pot a water for 20 minutes.

While barley is boiling, diced tomatoes and peach.  Strip thyme sprigs of their leaves and add to tomato/peach mixture.  Add olive oil, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.  Toss to combine and coat.

After 20 minutes drain barley and rinse with cold water.  Toss tomato mixture into barley.

Serves- 3 adults and 1 toddler as a meal.

Remember to carefully check the package on all foods you purchase and consume if you are excluding an allergen or ingredient from your diet.  Just because the raw ingredient normally does not include an allergen does not mean that certain brands do not process or expose ingredients to allergens.  Know your brands and their manufacturing processes!

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