The start of a new school year is the ideal time to expand your kids’ taste buds with fun-and-easy breakfasts, healthy lunch bags, after-school snacks and dinners. As you countdown to classes, let’s explore these five delicious barley recipes to add to your cooking collection.

1. Eating breakfast can help kids stay alert and do better in class. What better motivation to whip up a healthy and yummy meal? This slow cooked barley breakfast won’t ‘slow’ you or your kids down during morning rush hour. It takes six hours to cook, so program the slow cooker the night before. Then in the morning, top it with Greek yogurt, cinnamon and sliced apples for a fast and delicious breakfast.

2. Do you need a tasty treat for both you and your kids at the mid-morning break? These chocolate banana muffins are 180 calories each and are sweetened with maple syrup. The recipe packs in one cup of whole barley flour, two bananas, canola oil and unsweetened cocoa powder – all heart-healthy ingredients to keep your morning on track.

3. After school, apple sauce raisin cookies with a glass of milk will ease before-dinner hunger pangs. They are made with whole barley flour and whole oats – the heart-healthy ‘smart’ carbs contain the beta-glucans associated with heart health that I wrote about previously in The Barley Balance. It is never too early to start introducing heart-healthy ingredients for your children.

4. Of course, feeding kids in a healthful way is essentially in the hands of parents. My experience is parents may be reluctant to introduce new foods and flavours to their children, complicating meal planning and family dining time. For this reason, let’s talk about this curried chicken barley recipe. Curries are usually simple to cook, tasty one-pot meals. What I like about this recipe is it is full of veggies for your kids. You can decrease the curry powder from two tablespoons to one tablespoon and leave out the garlic for a less savoury heat. The full cup of yogurt helps to balance out the flavours and make it milder for the kids to enjoy.

5. The last recipe on the “Back to school with barley” list is this basic barley and broccoli casserole. It is perfect for a meatless Monday and later for lunch on Tuesday. It has two cups of cooked pot or pearl barley, which is a plan-in-advance step. During that time, I suggest cooking extra barley to add to other recipes, including soups. The shredded cheddar cheese makes this a kid – and a family favourite.

Now it is your turn, what is your family favourite “Back to school with barley” recipe?