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Sweet and savory barley recipes

We’ve all been told to eat oats to lower cholesterol

May 7, 2020
By ROBIN ASBELL - Grit Magazine , Farm News


Grit Magazine

Yes, whole barley is right up there with the best of the whole grains, reducing risks of heart disease, obesity, inflammation, cancer and even gum disease. It's loaded with antioxidants, including tocotrienols, a form of vitamin E that may reduce damage to your DNA. The combination of fibers in barley gives it a low "glycemic index" score, which means that it has a minimal effect on blood sugar levels. Several studies are also showing that eating barley-and any whole grains-is great for both avoiding and treating Type 2 Diabetes.

Article Photos

- Grit Magazine photo by Emily Heller

This cake is secretly whole grain and not too high in fat. Don’t tell anyone who might think that’s a bad thing.

Among the stacks of recent studies showing the health benefits of whole grains, a few were conducted to see whether whole grain barley might be the best answer to cholesterol problems. One study put men with high cholesterol on diets with varying levels of soluble fiber from barley. The men with the highest barley fiber intake had the best results, with drops in total cholesterol of up to 20 percent, LDL (the bad kind of cholesterol) up to 24 percent, and triglycerides up to 16 percent.

If you are like most Americans, the last time you saw barley, it was bobbing about in a beef soup. The most common way to buy barley is pearled, which means the bran layer has been sanded off to make the barley cook quickly and have a soft texture. The strain of barley that is grown for pearling has a stubbornly clingy "glume," or inedible husk, that has to be removed mechanically. While the beta glucans that lower your cholesterol are still in there, the loss of the bran strips away many of the nutrients. Better to try sexy-sounding "naked" barley, also called hulled or hull-less, which comes from varieties that have looser glumes, so the bran layer can be left intact. Artisanal growers are bringing back varieties such as 'Purple Prairie,' 'Black' and 'Golden Waxy Barley.' Try ordering specialty varieties from, and (You can grow hull-less barley in your own yard, too. Visit to find barley seeds.)

Like most grains, barley can be used in many forms, from whole to flour. Rolled or flaked barley is similar to rolled oats. It also can be chopped or cracked, and is often added to multigrain hot cereals in that form. Barley flour contains less gluten than whole wheat flour, but it is not gluten-free. Baking with it is like using a low-protein pastry flour, producing tender results in cakes and biscuits.

Barley seems like the perfect antidote to many of the things that ail us. Try these recipes to bring this nutritious grain into your kitchen.

Chocolate barley bundt cake

1/2 cup cocoa

3/4 cup boiling water

13/4 cups barley flour

13/4 cups sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup canola oil

7 large eggs, separated

2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

For icing

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp vanilla

3 tablespoon milk (as needed)

Generously grease a Bundt pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, stir cocoa into boiling water until smooth, then let cool completely. In a large bowl, whisk the barley flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In the center of the bowl, make a well and add in order oil, egg yolks, the cocoa mixture and vanilla. Beat with spoon until smooth.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff. Fold a fourth of the whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the rest. Pour into prepared pan. Bake on the low rack for 60 to 65 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 20 minutes in the pan before running a paring knife around the edges and then inverting it onto a cake plate.

When the cake is completely cooled, stir together the powdered sugar and cocoa in a bowl, then stir in the vanilla and milk. Add milk just to make a thick glaze that can be poured over the cake. Drizzle the glaze over the Bundt. Let dry for a few minutes before cutting with a serrated knife. Serves 12.

Turkey and barley meatloaf with sage

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup carrots, chopped

1/2 cup pearled barley, rinsed

11/4 cups chicken stock

11/2 pounds ground turkey

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

2 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

For topping

3 tablespoon ketchup

1 tablespoon mustard

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Heat the oil in a saute pan, then add the onions and carrots, and saute until the onions are clear. Add the barley and stock, and bring to a boil. Cook for 30 minutes. When all the stock is absorbed, transfer the mixture to a colander to drain and cool completely.

When the barley is cool, mix it with the turkey, brown sugar, eggs, thyme, sage, salt and pepper in a large bowl until well-combined. Oil a loaf pan, and transfer the mixture to the pan.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour. In a separate bowl, mix together the ketchup, mustard and brown sugar, and spread it over the loaf. Bake for 15 minutes more, or until the interior registers 160 degrees on a meat thermometer. Serves 8.

Japanese barley bowl

11/2 cups hulled barley, rinsed

3 to 4 cups water

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp sugar or other sweetener

8 ounces snow peas, steamed

1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned

12 ounces cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

4 sheets nori seaweed, sliced

1/2 cup pickled ginger slices

2 tbsp prepared wasabi

Shoyu soy sauce

Bring barley, water and salt to boil in a medium saucepan. Cover and cook for 40 to 50 minutes. When the grain is tender, drain any excess water, return to the pan, let stand covered for 10 minutes, then scrape out into a large low bowl. Cover with a wet kitchen towel to keep it moist as it cools.

Mix vinegar and sugar, and fold into barley. Drop vegetables in boiling water until crisp-tender, and remove to cool.

To serve, divide barley between four wide bowls and flatten evenly. Artfully arrange the vegetables and seafood on top, and place a cluster of pickled ginger slices on one side. Sliver nori with scissors or a knife and sprinkle over the bowls. Serve with wasabi, ginger and shoyu on the side. Serves 4.

Greek barley salad

13/4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

Pinch salt

1 cup barley (pearled or hulled)

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 cups (3 ounces) salad spinach

1 tbsp fresh (or 1 tsp dried) oregano

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium cucumber, chopped

1 large tomato, diced

1/2 large green pepper, chopped

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Three hours before serving, bring the stock and salt to a boil. Add the barley and return to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the stock is absorbed. Transfer to the refrigerator.

In a food processor, chop the garlic, spinach and oregano. Add the lemon juice, zest and salt, and process again. Add the olive oil with the machine running, then stir mixture into the barley.

Mix in the vegetables and half the feta. Serve topped with more feta. Serves 6.

Excerpted from Grit, Celebrating Rural America Since 1882. To read more articles from Grit, please visit, or call 866-803-7096. Copyright 2020 by Ogden Publications Inc.



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