By: Sydney Duhaime

September is a busy time of year. However, the transition from the end of the summer to the beginning of school is also a great opportunity to incorporate the benefits of barley into your diet.

“Barley has a lot of health benefits and it is extremely versatile,” said Linda Whitworth, co-author of Go Barley: Modern Recipes for an Ancient Grain. “This makes it the perfect ingredient for back-to-school meals.”

Here are some great recipes and simple tips to help you maximize the benefits of barley this September.

Sunday—Cook in bulk

For most people Sunday is a day of rest, but for many, Sunday is also a day of preparation. This Sunday, take the stress out of meal planning by cooking barley in bulk.

A simple way to cook pearl or pot barley is to toss it into a slow cooker or rice cooker. For each cup (250 mL) of barley add two-and-one-quarter cups (560 mL) of water.

Don’t forget to make extra.

“Sealed tightly, barley can keep for three days in the fridge and up to three months in the freezer,” said Whitworth.

Tip: Pre-cooked barley can be substituted for rice or added to stews, salads and stir-fries, making preparing meals a breeze.

Monday—Start with breakfast

The weekend is over and it is time to start the week, so start it right with a hearty breakfast, like Brunch Hash Baked Eggs. It’s a simple, delicious and satisfying way to start the day.

Using the barley prepped on Sunday, combine ingredients into oven-safe ramekins, top each with an egg, and place on a baking sheet in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes at 375° F (190° C).

Barley is the perfect way to start the day because it is high in fibre, which takes longer to digest, keeping you fuller for longer.

Tip: Barley can also be cooked overnight in a slow cooker for a Slow Cooked Barley Breakfast. Cook the cereal using a mixture of water and fruit juice to give it extra flavour.

Tuesday—Toss a salad

A Barley Tabbouleh salad is an easy side dish to any meal, simplifying after-work meal prep.

Using the last of Sunday’s refrigerated pre-cooked barley, combine with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and fresh herbs, then top with a simple homemade dressing for a fresh and healthy salad.

“The beta-glucan fibre found in barley has been proven to lower high cholesterol,” said Whitworth. “Recipes like this barley tabbouleh, that are high in beta-glucan and low in salt, help lower cholesterol.”

Tip: In September, backyard gardens and farmers markets offer great tomatoes and cucumbers—perfect for barley tabbouleh.

Wednesday—Add some beer

Banish the mid-week blues with a classic combo: barley, beer and beef. Beer Braised Beef on a Bed of Barley brings all three together for one delicious dinner.

While cooking, the alcohol in the beer evaporates, leaving behind a deliciously tender, flavourful and moist braised beef.

Tip: This meal goes great with a glass of your favourite India pale ale.

Thursday—Slow it down

It’s almost the end of the week, but there is still much to do. So make dinner easy with this slow-cooked meal: Curried Chicken and Barley.

Combine chicken thighs, broth, vegetables and seasoning into a slow cooker and cook on low for five to six hours. Turn on the slow cooker just before leaving for work; when you get home, top some cooked barley with this fresh chicken curry for a perfectly cooked dinner.

Tip: Barley helps regulate blood sugar levels, making it an excellent addition to any meal—especially for those with diabetes.

Friday—Sweeten it up

Let’s be honest, it has been a long week, but luckily it is Friday, so end the work and school week with delicious and easy Double Chocolate Brownies.

This sweet treat takes only a few minutes to prep and 30 minutes to bake. Made with barley flour, these brownies are moist and have a slight nutty flavour.

Tip: These brownies pair great with Friday night movies.

Saturday—Have a snack

It’s the weekend! Time to relax with friends, family and food. Enjoy your weekend with homemade Blueberry Barley Muffins.

These muffins are simple to make and take only 18 minutes to bake, making them perfect for quick breakfasts and lunchtime snacks.

Tip: These healthy muffins can be frozen for up to three months.