Last week we were talking about ways to stretch your dollar when grocery shopping. This week let’s talk about an underappreciated grain that doesn’t seem to get consumed as often as it used to – barley. Now, before we talk about barley, our Toronto naturopaths want to first caution that if you’re suffering from any IBS or digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, and constipation, it may be better to avoid it until after your symptoms have been resolved. The reason for this is that even though barley is great at increasing the number of good bacteria in your gut (which is something we want), it can make unaddressed digestive symptoms worse because of its high fiber content. But don’t worry – our naturopaths are very experienced in helping people with digestive symptoms if you do need some support.
So, why do we like barley as an addition to soups and stews? Well, as mentioned, it is great at increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut. This is important for many reasons because our gut bacteria help with digestion, help make some important nutrients like B vitamins and vitamin K, and also help to support our immune function. On top of this, it is a great source of fiber which not only helps us to stay full (and reduce cravings) but also helps us to have regular bowel movements.
One of the easiest ways to use barley is to add it to soups and stews. It is generally a low cost grain you can pick up in bulk and keep on hand for when you’re cooking a stew. There are many ways to use barley, so we suggest checking out a few cooking sites or videos to learn the yummiest ways to include barley. For example, this site has many different recipe options you can try (https://www.epicurious.com/recipes-menus/our-best-barley-recipes-soup-stew-salad-grain-bowl-porridge-whole-grains-gallery)
Boosting fiber in your meals has many health benefits, but will also have benefits for your wallet as well since high fiber meals are more filling and will help reduce the need to snack.