Saturday, April 25, 2015


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We have a bulk food store in our nearest town now, and they carry an interesting array of whole grains.  One that caught my eye was "Purple Prairie Barley", so I bought a small amount. But I never got around to using it until a few days ago. 

I knew already that barley is a grain very low on the glycemic index, providing slow-acting, longer-lasting energy, and that it's a good source of soluble (viscous) fiber, too.  Purple barley has an added bonus in that it is a variety sometimes called “naked barley,” or hull-less barley, which doesn't need pearling, so it still has the bran and germ intact. In addition, as we know, the colors in foods usually indicate the presence of antioxidants, and that's certainly true of purple barley!

"A press release on 15 August, 2011 by Ohio State University announced that anthocyanins, chemicals that offer red, blue and purple color to foods, are capable of inhibiting the growth of cancer cells while keeping healthy cells intact... Lead author of the study, Dr. Monica Giusti, commented, “These foods contain many compounds, and we’re just starting to figure out what they are and which ones provide the best health benefits.” Giusti added, “All fruits and vegetables that are rich in anthocyanins have compounds that can slow down the growth of colon cancer cells, whether in experiments in laboratory dishes or inside the body.” ...The bran fraction of purple barley has a significantly higher antioxidant activity than its paler cousins, by as much as six times."
See source links at

So this is a really nutritious grain, besides being a lovely color! It also has a nice chewy texture-- it's not mushy or slimey.  I decided to make a hearty full-meal salad with my cup of Purple Prairie Barley, utilizing foods that I had in the refrigerator and pantry already. The result was delicious, nutritious and very colorful!

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Servings: 8
This beautiful whole grain, bean and vegetable salad was a real hit and so nutritious!

Cook the barley several hours ahead of making the salad:
1 cup Purple Prairie Barley
2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
Other salad ingredients:
2 cups rinsed and drained cooked or canned chickpeas
2 large red peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (more or less)
1 cup chopped celery (with leaves)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or chopped dried apricots)
4 large  or 6 small green onions, chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1/2 cup aquafaba or Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbs agave nectar or maple syrup
1 Tbs dark sesame oil
1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. To cook the barley, mix the barely, water and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Turn down, cover and cook on Low for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the barley is tender, but a bit chewy, and all of the water has been absorbed. Cool at room temperature.

2. While the barley cools, prepare the other salad ingredients and make the Dressing by whisking or shaking all the ingredients together.

3. Combine the cooled barley, other salad ingredients and dressing and refrigerate.  The salad is best when served at room temperature.


The same day that I made the salad, I needed to use up some of my homemade vegan "ricotta", and I also had some of my "Potted Tofu" in the fridge that was getting quite "ripe"!  (The links to the recipes are in the recipe below.)  I decided to make a spread-- spreads are always handy to have around to use on rye crisp, toast or vegetables for a quick snack.  It turned out very well!

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Serves 12

6 ounces of any kind of vegan "Feta" (such as my "Potted Tofu" or Quick "Feta" Crumble)
2 7/8 cups (1 lb.) unseasoned vegan "Ricotta" (I used my Okara/Cashew Ricotta, but you could use my Tofu/Cashew Ricotta or Almond Ricotta)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon onion granules
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes in oil, rinsed under hot water and squeezed
extra-virgin olive oil, Kalamata olives, parsley 

Combine all of the ingredients EXCEPT the sundried tomatoes in a food processor or high-speed blender and process until smooth.  Add the tomatoes and process briefly-- you want it to have a little texture.  

Scoop the spread into an attractive bowl, smooth it out, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with the olives and parsley.

Serve with crackers (we like rye crisp), thin slices of crusty bread, or raw vegetables.


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