I have enjoyed hearing from you all about last month’s whole grain of the month, quinoa. Thank you to everyone who shared recipes. I had a lot of fun trying them out, although I have to tell you that my husband is now a little sick of quinoa. It’s definitely time to move on to a new grain and it seems like the right time of year to talk about barley.
As well as being delicious in soups, barley has medicinal properties. In fact, it is a Chinese herb and a key ingredient in some of the herbal formulas we prescribe at The Yinova Center. In pinyin it is known as yi yi ren and we use it for its diuretic properties and its ability to clear heat and toxicity. It plays an important role in herbal formulas for people who are prone to urinary tract infections. The Brits also use barley for this purpose and I can vividly remember my Gran prescribing lemon barley water for a UTI when I was a teenager. However, the good news about barley doesn’t stop there. It is also high in dietary fiber and selenium, an important antioxidant. In Chinese medicine it is considered to be a digestive tonic. It can also lower cholesterol and helps to prevent colon cancer.
I add it to soups and stews and also use it instead of rice to make risotto. You can buy hulled barley, which is the whole grain, or pearled barley, which has had some of its outer coating buffed off. In a way the pearled barley is semi-whole, and is useful because it cooks quicker and is creamier. The pearled barley makes a better risotto but the hulled barley is great in a stew where is absorbs the flavors around it and helps to thicken the sauce.
I’m looking forward to hearing all your barley recipes this month so please share them with us when you come in to the center and if you are inspired to cook with barley this month send us a picture and we’ll put it on the blog.