Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Barley Salad

We have some friends visiting over the weekend who are on a no meat diet.  In an effort to come up with some nutritious AND delicious meal ideas I thought I'd experiment with Barley.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this little nutritional dynamo here are a few facts. 
As cereal grains go, barley is a winner when it comes to good nutrition.  This centuries-old grain is packed with fiber, contains important vitamins and minerals, is slim on fat, and, like all plant products, cholesterol-free.  Here’s a closer look:
Barley is a great source of dietary fiber and actually contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.  Soluble fiber is effective in lowering blood cholesterol and can reduce the risk of heart disease.  Soluble fiber is also beneficial in slowing the absorption of sugar and reducing the risk for developing type 2 or non-insulin-dependent diabetes.  The insoluble fiber found in barley may be beneficial in helping the body maintain regular bowel function.  Insoluble fiber may also help lower the risk for certain cancers such as colon cancer. Cholesterol and fat
Like all plant foods, barley is naturally cholesterol-free and low in fat.  A 1/2-cup serving of cooked pearl barley, a typical grain serving, contains less than 1/2 gram of fat and only 100 calories*

 Here is what I came up with:
2 C. uncooked barley
3 C. low sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. sea salt
Rinse barley until water runs clear.  Place in a stock pot and add broth and salt.  Cook on medium heat until liquid is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool completely.
2 lg. tomatoes, diced
2 small shallots, finely chopped
1 med. green pepper, finely chopped
3 stocks celery, finely chopped
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 C. Basil/Balsamic Vinaigrette
Place all veggies in a bowl.  Add cooled barley.  Add black pepper and garlic powder.  Stir in vinaigrette.
May serve immediately but gets better if allowed to set for a couple of hours.  
Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side. 

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