You may remember me sharing with you that barley was the fuel for the Roman Gladiators.  These vegan warriors got all of the nutrient-dense fuel they needed to rise to the challenge, and as such, they were known as “The Barley Men”.

Barley is an incredible grain that should not be overlooked! It is one of the grains with the greatest health benefits, high in both soluble and insoluble fibre, which provides a wealth of health promoting effects. The soluble fibre helps remove excess cholesterol from the gut, and helps the body metabolize fats and carbohydrates. The insoluble fibre provides the roughage critical for colon health. The fibre in barley nourishes the beneficial gut flora, improving our overall health. Barley has a low glycemic index, releasing sugars slowly and keeping us full longer, is a great source of selenium, (protects against cancer) niacin, (heart health) and tocotrienols, which is the best form of Vitamin E. Last but not least, barley is a great source of lignans, (phytoestrogens that are antioxidants). Here are some amazing barley recipes…. enjoy!


Lima Bean, Barley and Green Split Pea Soup

2 onions chopped

1/2 cup dried green split peas

1/4 cup barley

1/4 cup baby lima beans

5 cups water

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. celery seeds

2 potatoes diced

3 carrots sliced

1 stock of celery, cut in chunks

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 tsp. ground pepper

Sauté onions in 2-3 tablespoons water until tender, set aside. Rinse peas, beans & barley, add with water, bay leaf & celery seeds to a large pot. Boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 & 1/2 hours, or until lima beans are tender. Add potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, basil, thyme, salt & pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until carrots are tender. If adding liquid to thin, use vegetable stock. Remove bay leaf before serving.



Barley Mushroom Risotto

4-6 cups vegetable stock

1 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup dry sherry

1 cup pearl barley

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

3 cups mushrooms of choice, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

6 cups baby arugula

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

freshly ground pepper

Sauté onion and garlic with water in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring until they begin to release their juices. Add barley, and cook for one minute. Add dry sherry and simmer, stirring until most of the liquid has evaporated. Reduce heat to medium. Add half a cup of broth to barley mixture at a time, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding a half cup of broth at a time and stirring until the liquid has been absorbed after each addition, adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, until barley is tender and creamy but still firm. This should take about 40-45 minutes. Stir in arugula and cook, stirring until wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in nutritional yeast, balsamic vinegar and season with pepper.


Black Barley Pecan Salad with Radish

2 cups black or pearl barley

1 cup arugula

1/2 cup pecans

1 cup radishes, thinly sliced

1/4 cup shallot, thinly sliced

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup parsley leaves, minced

1/2 cup tarragon leaves, minced (optional)

1/2 cup mint cut in a chiffonade (just roll up the leaves and thinly slice, so you have long thing strips)

2 tbsp walnut oil (optional)

2 tbsp olive oil (optional)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar or seasoned rice vinegar (apple cider vinegar also works)

Add barley to salted boiling water and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside until almost cool. Add remaining ingredients and toss. Add salt to taste. (This recipe was modified from Food 52)