How to Eat Barley to Increase Fiber Intake

Category: Food & Drink

Barley is more than a soup thickener. With 9g per cooked cup, it's one of the most fiber-rich foods you could eat. It's also as versatile as rice. Getting into the habit of substituting barley for other grains in dishes is a good idea. Even if you get your barley in a sealed bag rather than bulk, be sure to rinse it well several times before cooking.


  • Note the difference between hulled and pearl barley. "Hulled" refers to removal of the hull layer only, leaving many nutrients intact. The pearl variety is the most common and quicker to cook, but you don't get the same quality of nutrition.

  • Eat barley flakes for breakfast in place of oatmeal. With twice as much fiber, you'll start your day with twice as much energy. Add dried fruit, nuts and maple syrup for a treat, or just butter and a little salt if you prefer a simple meal.

  • Thicken soups and stews with barley. Try it in lentil soup with some carrots, garlic and cumin for a Middle Eastern flavor. Carrots, celery, potatoes, onion and beef with barley make a hearty stew in winter.

  • Add barley to salads. Because of its firm, chewy texture, it goes well with dressings and crunchy vegetables. Bell peppers, carrots, celery and barley in a garlic vinaigrette dressing make an interesting, high-fiber salad at potlucks.

  • Use barley in side dishes instead of rice for an extra fiber boost. In an onion and mushroom pilaf, you'll find the barley absorbs the mild mushroom flavor for a tasty side dish.

  • Make your main dishes with barley so it absorbs the flavors of the meat and sauce. Bake fish and chicken with vegetables, canned or fresh tomatoes, precooked barley and spices. Use it in casseroles with beans, chopped vegetables and sharp cheeses.

  • Boost your fiber intake as a vegetarian by eating vegetables stuffed with a barley mix. Bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and squash all go well with it. Add some sautéed onions, celery and tomato paste with paprika for a savory filling.

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