Category: Grains

polenta chickpea fries (4)

What do you think the most consumed vegetable in North America is?

…Potatoes! I don’t have anything against potatoes nutritionally, but they are likely eaten way to often and usually in their deep fried form.

A varied diet is something I always promote when I do my grocery store tours — it ensures you are getting all the nutrients you need and makes your meals more exciting! So, ditch the potato fries once in a while and make polenta chickpea fries!


Did you know that when you buy a “yam” it is actually a sweet potato? A jewel sweet potato to be precise. It is very uncommon to find a true yam at your local grocery store. They are native to Africa (among other regions) and have a white, purple or reddish flesh. The USDA started calling the orange sweet potatoes “yams” to avoid confusion with the lighter fleshed variety.

Lentil Barley Salad


Ever since I made this mushroom barley risotto I have been in love with barley.

I had this weird notion in my head that I didn’t like barley because I had only ever had it in soups I didn’t like. I was very wrong, it’s delicious!

Its got a great chewing texture, it’s super filling and it’s cheap! Which makes it a great option for a grain salad to pack for weekday lunches — or freeze in single serve portions if you don’t like eating the same thing every day. I am a huge fan of keeping single servings of meals in the freezer to grab on my way out the door.

Feel free to give this recipe your own flair by adding olives, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichokes, pickled beets or whatever suits your fancy.


Gold Star Nutrient: 1/2 a cup of cooked lentils has almost half your daily requirement for folate, which helps make red blood cells.

barley lentil salad

Lentil Barley Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • ½ cup green lentils, dry
  • ½ cup pot barley
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¾ cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup spinach, packed
  • ¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ small purple onion, finely chopped
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • Dressing:
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
  1. Put the lentils, barley and whole garlic cloves (I actually used 3 but I LOVE garlic) in a medium pot and add water to cover by a couple inches; bring to a boil and cook for 45 min, or until tender.
  2. Drain well, discard the garlic cloves (or eat them on a cracker! mmm), and set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl combine cooled lentils and barley and all the other salad ingredients.
  4. Shake the dressing in a small jar or whisk in a bowl, pour desired amount of dressing over salad and toss.
  5. Note: this dressing recipe makes much more dressing than I use personally but I generally don't like a lot, so dress it with less if your tastes match mine and save the rest in the fridge for other purposes.

This recipe was recommended to me by a friend (and fellow dietitian), and  it is awesome! Who knew barley could make such a nice risotto. It gets creamy but the grains stay nice and chewy, it’s a great combo! Barley also has more iron, protein and 5 times as much fiber as short grain rice.

This dish would look much prettier with the parsley added (if you’re trying to impress guests), but I didn’t have any on hand (personally I don’t really like parsley in it anyway!). The risotto thickens a bit once done cooking so keep that in mind and it keeps well to bring for lunches so make a big batch!


Mushroom Barley Risotto

Serves 4

Modified from Whitewater Cook With Friends


Olive oil
3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup pearl barley
1/2 large onion
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
2-2.5 cups chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup parsley (optional)

Heat stock in a small sauce pan until simmering. Meanwhile, heat enough olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot to generously coat the bottom. Saute barley until slightly toasted, about 5 min. Add onions and garlic and cook until transparent. Add mushrooms, and saute for another 5 min. Add the hot stock a 1/2 cup at a time stirring in between, cooking until most the liquid has been absorbed,  about 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Test barley, it should be al dente. If still too firm add another 1/2 cup water and continue cooking until done. Turn heat off, stir in cheese, cover and let sit 5 min. Season with fresh ground pepper and parsley.


- Formerly known as Apron Strings and Healthy Things -

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