By Jane Dummer RD

Happy 2015! Everyone’s talking about the latest food and culinary trends and—you guessed it—barley is 2015’s “It” ingredient.

We’ve all jumped onboard the barley train and it’s not slowing down. Consumers want to have more locally grown ancient grains in their pantry to use as everyday ingredients. Plus, they know that eating “smart” carbs such as barley, with its positive health benefits, is important to their well-being. And we see bakers using wheat-free flours like barley flour to create delicious products. As a result, barley is taking a starring role in three of this year’s culinary trends.

Healthy Snacking

Healthy snacking for the family has become a leading food theme over the past five years. People want to eat more healthily, so they’re replacing the traditional candy bars and chips with delicious and nutritious snack options. Barley’s versatility and nutrition make it a perfect ingredient for homemade snacks.

Jane’s Snack-Planning Tip

Always keep a healthy cookie made with barley flour in the jar or in the freezer for an easy go-to snack for the entire family. I love a Crispy Barley Raisin Cookie made with whole-grain barley flour and barley flakes along with a Greek yogurt in the mid-afternoon to keep me going until suppertime.

Plant-Based Diets

Barley-based meals are the building blocks of two other popular trends this year: plant-based diets and ethnic-inspired meals. Nutrition research concludes a diet of minimally processed foods with a variety of plants (whole grains, veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds) provides valuable health benefits including fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Barley is the “It” ingredient for many plant-based recipes.

Jane’s Meal-Planning Tip

I eat lean meat, poultry and fish; however, I always include plant-based ingredients like barley as an important part of the meal. For an ethnic-inspired vegetarian option, I recommend this Barley Moussaka. The barley in the sauce gives a meat-like texture, complementing the vegetable layers. Enjoy on Meatless Monday or any night of the week!


Souping is said to be 2015’s juicing. It is an easy and healthy way to incorporate nutrient-rich whole grains and vegetables into your diet. Unlike with juicing, you don’t lose any of the all-important fibre. Plus, we know the nutrient powerhouse barley is the best ingredient to give the soup body and texture.

Jane’s Meal-Planning Tip

A supply of homemade barley soup is a must-have in my freezer. On a busy weeknight, it becomes a meal in a bowl. Try this traditional Beef Barley Soup recipe (option: make it with low-sodium beef broth). Schedule an hour on the weekend and make extra to stock up the freezer.

I’d love to hear how you’re using 2015’s “It” ingredient!