Whole Grains and Recipes That Contain Them – Your Path to Good Health

Nutrition experts say we should be eating more whole grains: barley, brown rice, buckwheat (which is also called bulgar), oatmeal, popcorn, and whole wheat. Whole grains provide roughage, a requirement for good health, and are a good source of complex carbohydrates.

“Whole Grains: Hearty Options for a Healthy Diet,” published on the Mayo Clinic Website, defines whole grains as the seeds of plants. Mayo Clinic recommends whole grains over refined grains. It also recommends “at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per day.” Unfortunately, many Americans fall far below this recommendation.

Hy-Vee grocery stores discuss preparation, storage, and the nutritional value of the barley in a Website article, “Barley.” Whole barley, also known as Scotch barley, is better for you, according to the site, because it has “intact bran, which is the most nutritious part of the grain.” Pearl barley, on the other hand, has been steamed and polished, a process that removes both bran and fiber. To prevent barley from going rancid, Hy-Vee recommends storing it a sealed container and in a cool, dry place, away from air, moisture, and sunlight.

Many cooks are unfamiliar with barley and, if they buy it, only use it in soup. There are more use for barley. “The Healthy Cook” book, published by “Prevention Magazine,” contains recipes for barley pilaf, rissoto, moussaka, stuffing, and soup. Though I like beef barley soup, I think many recipes call for too much barley. The result is stroup, my word for soup that is so thick you do not know if it is soup or stew.

I upgraded the basic soup recipe by using ball-tip steak. The recipe calls for quick barley (the pearled kind), and though it contains slightly less fiber, it still contains five grams per 1/3-cup serving. You may use whole barley instead of the pearled, but check the cooking time on the package first. Mushrooms and carrots provide added fiber. I hope you enjoy this recipe and make barley part of your path to good health.

Steak-Mushroom-Barley Soup


2 tablespoons light olive oil

10 ounces ball-tip steak, cubed

8-ounce box sliced mushrooms

3/4 cup pre-shredded carrots

1 envelope dry onion soup mix

3 tablespoons salt-free soup base

1/2 cup quick barley

2 teaspoons dried basil

3 quarts of water


Pour olive oil into soup kettle. Cook steak over high heat until the cubes start to brown. Add sliced mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms are soft. Add shredded carrots, onion soup mix, soup base, barley, basil, and water. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Makes 8 servings. This soup tastes even better the next day.

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