The Wonder grain Barley – Health Benefits and a Delicious Dessert
Barley reminds me of my pregnancy when I had to gulp that glassful of white, odorless and tasteless fluid religiously. Times have changed after the constant browsing and learning more about food and health through internet. Though there are schools which are for and against the wholegrain in diet, I go with the former. As I don’t make the wholegrain as my staple food but add them as a supplement with my veggies, fruits and lentils.
Low Glycemic Index of Barley makes it a great choice for those counting on their sugar! Let me share what I recollect about this wonder grain Barley.
Composition; Barley is obtained from a specific type of grass called Hordeum vugare and is an excellent grain to add to your diet. An ancient grain used for several years in baking and making health drink, it is now taking the fancy of many health conscious. The green leaves of Barley is also used to make fresh juice rich in antioxidants. Barley has a very small amount of gluten and can be easily added to make baked goodies along with the wheat flour.
Varieties of Barley;
Hulled Barley; This is the most nutrient form of the wholegrain with just the husk removed form the grain. The outer bran makes it rich in dietary fibers and many other nutrients, which are lost during the milling process. These look brown in color and take quite long to cook than the pearl Barley.
Pearl Barley; These are processed grain from which the bran has been removed and the grains look pale white or ivory in color.
Quick Barley; These are the precooked and steamed Varity which cooks pretty fast, but are devoid of many nutrients.
Health Benefits of Barley;
- High Fiber which is what Barley (hulled) is famous for is found in abundance in this grain.
- Barley helps eliminate toxins from body.
- Hulled Barley contains many vitamins and minerals necessary for the development and growth of our body.
- Low GI of Barley makes it a good choice for people suffering from diabetes. As it gets digested slowly and release sugar at lower rate than other grains.
- People looking for weight reduction can rely on high fiber Barley diet.
- Unlike many other grains the beta-glucan soluble fiber in Barley is found the whole kernel. So you get this in your processed form of Barley too.
- The insoluble dietary fiber in Barley helps relieve constipation and improve digestive health.
- The phytonutrient lignans present in Barley fights off the free radicals in our body.
- The mineral magnesium in Barley helps control the sugar levels in blood.
- Copper in it helps against arthritis and stiff body joints.
- Barley is good to increase stamina, boost immunity, and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
- Barley juice which is obtained from fresh leaves of Barley is loaded with many nutrients.
Prudent ways to use barley;
- Porridge made with Barley is the most common and healthy breakfast to add in your diet.
- Bake muffins, cake, cookies with 100% Barley flour.
- Add 25% or more of Barley flour for the yeast baked goodies, since Barley has very weak gluten and can be combined with wheat flour for a perfect bread.
- Pancakes with Barley flour and sprinkle with palm sugar or honey makes a delicious breakfast.
- Risotto, Paella and many such special recipes can be made from pearl Barley.
- Use hulled barley for making a healthy and refreshing soup.
- Make Barley water with hulled Barley and dash of citrus juice.
- Add boiled barley to the vegetable and fruit salads.
Healthy Dessert with Barley and Palm Sugar
- 1 cup of pearl Barley
- 3 cups of water
- 1/2 cup of Palm sugar
- 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon powder
- A few Almonds and raisins
- 1 tsp. of Ghee or clarified butter
Method; Boil water in a vessel and add the washed pearl Barley into it. Let it cook for 25-30 minutes or till the grains are soft to touch. Use pressure cooker to speed up the cooking, it takes just 5-6 minutes on high to cook the same.
Heat ghee in a wok and fry the Almonds first and then the raisins for a few seconds. Add the cooked Barley in the hot ghee and stir. Add the palm sugar & Cinnamon powder and keep stirring. The mix will become very liquid at this stage. Cook for 5-7 minutes till the mixture looks dry. Take off the heat and serve hot.
The chewy grains of Barley makes it an interesting substitute to rice or wholewheat dessert. Replace Palm sugar with white sugar or Honey if you can’t get it.