It’s estimated that by 2020, that the annual direct health-care cost of diabetes in Canada will be $16 billion (1). Over 30% of Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes. Raising awareness of this ever-growing disease is the main effort behind November being Diabetes Awareness Month. The good news is that there are preventative measures you can take to reduce type 2 diabetes. They include maintaining a healthy weight and implementing an exercise regime. Research suggests a structured lifestyle change that results in a five percent loss of initial body weight prevents progression to type 2 diabetes by nearly 60 percent, and this is true for any starting body weight (2).

Barley is a low glycemic index (GI) food with the soluble fibre beta-glucans. Eating barley foods on a daily basis as part of a healthy lifestyle will promote stable blood sugar levels (3). Let’s explore three delicious GoBarley recipes that are high in beta-glucan fibre and have a low glycemic index.

Barley Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto means painted rooster in Spanish and is a traditional dish in Costa Rica. In this easy recipe, 2 cups of barley replaces traditional white rice. It’s a colourful, fibre-rich substitute for breakfast hash browns or as a side dish for poultry or fish. The black beans are also a fibre-rich, low GI ingredient giving it an one-two punch against type 2 diabetes.

Jane’s Meal Planning Tip
Plan time ahead (about 45 minutes) to cook the barley. Cook extra barley, package it in 1 cup (250 mL) containers and freeze it to have on hand to add to fillings, soups and salads. Prep and measure all the other ingredients before firing up the skillet.

Barley, Lentil and Turkey Gumbo

This recipe is more complex, but it’s worth the effort for the layers of flavours and textures created from the roux, garlic, fennel and other veggies. Along with the ½ cup of fibre-rich barley, there is a ½ cup of green lentils and a sweet potato for more fibre-rich, low GI goodness.

Jane’s Meal Planning Tip
For a budget-friendly recipe, I leave out the shrimp. The turkey breast and sausage alone provide interesting textures and flavours. And to decrease the sugar content, I swap the white wine for low sodium vegetable broth.

Barley Falafels

Falafels are a versatile recipe to have in your menu mix. Their crunchy exterior texture and moist interior make them an option to stuff into a pita or serve as an appetizer with tzatziki dip. Along with one cup of barley, the main ingredient chickpeas are fibre-rich, with a low GI, making them an excellent choice to help maintain blood sugar levels!

Jane’s Meal Planning Tip
Plan to make extra, as falafels can be frozen for up to one month.

Enjoy these GoBarley recipes. And remember creating nutritious and appealing meals along with having a fitness routine that best fits your lifestyle will promote a healthy weight and will stop type 2 diabetes in its tracks!

1) Canadian Diabetes Association and Diabète Québec. Diabetes: Canada at the Tipping Point – Charting a New Path. April 2010.Cited Nov 2 2015
2) Hamman RF et al. Effect of Weight Loss With Lifestyle Intervention on Risk of Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2006; 29(9):2102–2107.
3) Tosh SM. Review of human studies investigating the post-prandial blood-glucose lowering ability of oat and barley food products. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013;67(4):310-7.