The memory is still vivid. Emerging from the cozy confines of her bed to a chilly winter morning on the prairies. Wondering how she would face another bitterly cold day and finding the answer on her mother’s kitchen table: a hearty, steaming bowl of comfort – barley porridge.

For Erin Lund—Commissary Manager and Head Baker for the Good Earth Coffeehouse and Bakery— barley has been a source of comfort for her family through four generations and counting. So it’s little wonder that she loves to share that experience with her customers.

“As we’ve grown throughout Western Canada, we’ve proudly continued to use Canadian barley from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in our products,” said Lund.

And boy, do they use it.

“Barley is an alternative to wheat flour for our baking and a healthy starch for stews and soups.”

Oh yes, and it tastes great too.

“Barley has a toasted nutty flavor on its own, but can take on both sweet and savory seasonings in a variety of recipes,” Lund said.

It’s that versatility and its popularity with customers that has made barley a staple ingredient for Good Earth Coffeehouses.

“We use it in our Beef Chilli, Prairie Chowder, Split Pea & Barley Soup, as well as in a number of our baked goods. It tastes wonderful when added to a multigrain mix, like our rustic alpine loaf with barley baked inside and toasted barley flakes on top.”

Lund loves how easy it is to cook with barley and is impressed with its ability to add moisture to her baking.

Perhaps the hardest people to impress are those bleary-eyed commuters stopping in before work for their caffeine fix. But barley rises to the challenge. If the piping hot coffee doesn’t get you going, then a warm zucchini barley muffin is bound to do the trick.

Good Earth Coffeehouse patrons also rave about the Zuchinni Apple Barley muffin “We’ve brought it back to our menu five times because customers kept asking for it,” said Lund.

Of course, keeping barley-hungry customers happy involves a lot of cooking and baking which, in turn, requires a lot of barley.

“Our 42 locations use an average of 50 pounds of barley per month,” she said, not including barley used in soups, stews and breads.

With more and more people looking for wheat-free options, those numbers will only increase, especially with Health Canada supporting the link between barley grain products and a reduction in blood cholesterol.

“Customers like having an option that is lower in fat and carbs,” said Lund.

They say you have to take the good with the bad. But if “they” were to visit the Good Earth Coffeehouse and Bakery for barley-based muffins, soups and stews that are tasty AND healthy, even the skeptics would agree with one thing: it’s all good.