While most of us have tried barley, and many may even have it tucked away in our pantries, few are familiar with the ancient grain’s extraordinary health benefits. Often overlooked by health-conscious foodies as just another grain, barley is in fact one of the best whole grain foods due to its robust nutritional makeup—providing, among other things, eight essential amino acids (thus constituting a complete protein in our diet, like quinoa), high amounts of soluble fiber (which helps the body metabolize fats, cholesterol and carbohydrates), and insoluble fiber (which promotes a healthy digestive tract). In effect, this ancient grain promotes weight loss, stabilizes blood pressure, reduces risk of heart disease, improves digestion, and leads overall to optimal health for regular consumers. And, what’s more, barley’s antioxidants help to eliminate toxins from the body, giving us the appearance of younger and healthier skin!
Now, given the obvious benefits, how can barley be incorporated into our diets? A wonderfully versatile grain with a nut-like flavor and chewy, pasta-like consistency, barley can be cooked into soups and stews for a richer flavor, and adds a nice texture to salads and risottos. Found as either hulled barley, which requires soaking before cooking to remove the tough bran layer, or pearl barley, which has been cleaned and polished to make for easier preparation, the Coop offers pearl barley in our bulk bin—grains, nuts and dried fruits by the pound—section. For cooking, simply simmer in water, or for more flavor, stock, until the liquid is absorbed and the barley remains fluffy.
We’re excited to now offer this oft overlooked but remarkably healthy, flavorful and versatile grain by the pound, and as we approach the height of winter, where we need wholesome meals to warm us, we hope our members enjoy, and feel the benefits of, incorporating this hearty grain into their diets.