Wednesday, February 18, 2009

February's Grain of the Month! Can You Contain Your Excitement? Well, Maybe! Well, Yes! Well, OK, But Just BARLEY!!!

Oh Yes, Oh Yes!  It's time to announce Barley as Grain O' The Month!  It's just what February needs--a dependable, healthy grain that can actually shovel out more cholesterol from those arteries than its more ostentatious cousin, Oatmeal.  Barley is often overlooked on the grain aisle, stuck on the bottom shelf, pale and white in its thin plastic bag, no flashy Quaker to advertise its goodness.  It's time to liberate this grain from its own shyness.  

Here's a wonderful excerpt from the 1881 Household Cyclopedia:

"Next to wheat the most valuable grain is barley, especially on light and sharp soils. It is a tender grain and easily hurt in any of the stages of its growth, particularly at seed time; a heavy shower of rain will then almost ruin a crop on the best prepared land; and in all the after processes greater pains and attention are required to ensure success than in the case of other grains. The harvest process is difficult, and often attended with danger; even the threshing of it is not easily executed with machines, because the awn generally adheres to the grain, and renders separation from the straw a troublesome task. Barley, in fact, is raised at greater expense than wheat, and generally speaking is a more hazardous crop. Except upon rich and genial soils, where climate will allow barley to be perfectly reared, it ought not to be cultivated."

My favorite line here is "It is a tender grain and easily hurt in any of the stages of its growth, particularly at seed time."  If that doesn't open your heart to Barley (and perhaps make you identify with it)...

How about some good nutritional info?  

1 cup of barley gives  you 54 percent of your daily fiber, 36 percent of your daily selenium, 32 percent of your daily copper, 31 percent of your daily manganese, and 23 percent of your daily phosphorous needs.

But wait, there's more!

Barley offers arthritis sufferers protection from atherosclerosis, lowers cholesterol levels, lowers your chance for type 2 diabetes and helps in the development and repair of body tissues. All that fiber will sweep out your pipes as well!  

Face it: with Barley as February's Grain of the Month there is absolutely no reason to be sluggish, churlish, or generally out of sorts anytime in this awkward stepchild month of the calendar year. 

Your date with barley begins tomorrow with the unleashing of a recipe for this quiet but powerful plutocrat of the grain world.  Barley!  Pick up a bag in the grain aisle tonight, and dance with it all the way to the cash register.  Tomorrow we dine!

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