Saturday, February 22, 2014

Barley: star-quality rice-substitute

I was drawn to this article about rice substitutes, and wanted to share that I think barley is the most accessible for most people to try as a healthier alternative for rice or pasta. We want more nutrient-dense and low-glycemic load meals so that we can maintain healthy weight and feel great. Quinoa (keen-wah) was listed at the top and can be very tasty, but some people don't like the taste of quinoa or have issues digesting it. Barley is somewhat "old school" and works well as a pilaf and has a nutty chewy texture that is more widely accepted especially for beginners not confident about cooking healthy.

My favorite way to eat barley is to mix in mushrooms, peas, veggies, onions and parsley to cooked barley so that I'm getting a rainbow of nutrition and a lot of flavor. And some like to make it creamy like risotto, if you cook it with broth. A warning about barley in soup: If you're packing leftovers, be sure to separate the barley from the soup or your leftovers will no longer be soup but actually become barley mush. Barley loves to soak up the liquids!! Here are some ideas for barley recipes.

The nutrition graphic here shows a terrific mineral profile for barley. Many of us hear about how we need to improve our selenium intake in our foods to boost our optimal health, an important anti-inflammatory mineral that is no longer rich in our agricultural soil. It's found to be helpful for lowering risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and thyroid disease. International standards are higher than in the US and selenium can improve your immune health as well as vision health. Other sources of selenium can be found in Brazil nuts, some seafood, animal protein, eggs, beans. The NIH page  or WHFoods page offers suggestions of foods that you can incorporate. If you don't eat foods like Brazil nuts or barley daily (who does?), I like to take this high-quality multi-mineral as my backup so that I get enough of my minerals daily, as my insurance for optimal health.

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