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Food and Recipe of the Month

April - Barley

Barley is one of the signature whole grains of spring. It is one of the oldest cultivated whole grains, domesticated around 8000 B.C. Know as a food for the physically strong, it was the main food source for the Roman Gladiators. They ate a roasted barley gruel everyday and it kept them strong and energetic.

Being in the whole grain category, barley is high in fiber which helps maintain a healthy blood pressure. Barley contains beta glucans that can help reduce high cholesterol. Plus helps maintain a health blood sugar level because it contains enzymes that help with insulin secretion. In addition, barely gets digested slowly, releasing glucose very slowly to give the body energy and help nurture the brain. Barley contains B vitamin such as niacin, manganese, selenium, chromium, phosphorus, and magnesium. And it is the whole grain that help feed and nurture the liver, gallbladder, and nervous system.

Barley holds within it the spring energy that is one of flexibility and graceful movement. During this spring time the body goes through a natural cleansing time and barley can assist the body by breaking down hardened accumulated fats and helping to flush them out of the body. Barely has also been used to treat hepatitis and painful urination.

When purchasing barley look for whole barley. It should have a brown or tan color to the grain. The package will probably say "hulled barley". This means that the hard outer shell, that the body can not digest, has been removed. There is also a variety called "pearled barley". Many people like the taste and texture of the pearled variety because it is lighter and creamier. Some of the outer shell has been polished off to create the pearled barley. However, not all the outer, nutrient dense, shell is removed, so pearled barley is still a whole grain and full of the health benefits of barley.

Recipe of the month:

Barley and Bok Choy

1/2 cup barley
1 cup water
2 scallions (thin diagonals)
1 carrot (matchsticks)
2 cups mushrooms (sliced)
1/2 bunch bok choy (cut up)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
olive oil and tamari
2 tsp. lemon juice

Put the barley and water in a pot, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 35 minutes, until all water has been absorbed. Set aside for later. Sauté each of the vegetables, one at a time, using a little olive oil and a dash of tamari. Sauté each vegetable for a couple minutes until they are soft, then remove and put in a mixing bowl. Continue using the same mixing bowl until all the vegetables have been sautéed.

Put the cooked barley in the sauté pan with a little olive oil and tamari then sauté for a couple minutes. Remove and add to the bowl. Add the lemon juice and mix all together, serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold.

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