Every Vegan manuscript I have read has had one fact in common. Actually, they’ve had myriad facts in common, but this is a big one. Basically, you can’t be on Atkins and be a healthy Vegan.
I don’t know that it is a medical fact, though it probably has been proven somewhere or other, and disproved elsewhere. The point is – carbs are good. Carbs are essential.
I’m not talking your grandma’s golden, home-baked buns, that break open to reveal steaming, stark white layers of fluffy, pillowy bread just begging to be butter-laden. Those are tasty (read: amazing), but all that refined white flour is doing absolutely nothing for you, nutrition-wise.
No, I’m talking about all those weird whole grains you probably thought were Greek divinities until you started researching plant-based diets. Quinoa, the goddess of studying so hard you cry; Buckwheat, the goddess of hungry, grumpy horses; Millet, a minor deity of women named Millicent; Amaranth, the goddess of bloggers who try too hard to be witty.
But, in fact, grains are all kinds of good for you. This isn’t a nutritional post, so if you want to know more, I will refer you to the site I just discovered: the Healthy Grains Institute. See? These plants are so smart, they formed their own educational community! I will definitely be doing some reading.
The point to all this is, I have a confession to make.
I’m not a huge fan of quinoa.
I know!! You’re probably asking yourself what other unspoken Vegan rules I have been disregarding! Do I swallow my B12 supplements whole? Do I re-route my path to work past McDonalds, just to smell the fillet o’ fish?
I’m sorry. I just find it kind of … blah. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I rinse it, if I prepare it in water it just tastes like dust. If it’s boiled in vegetable broth it is more palatable, but it still needs a barrel of salsa, or two caramelized onions and a tablespoon of salt to taste decent to me.
Therefore, I have had to stealthily look for other options. I need to try amaranth, since its nutritional profile is very similar to quinoa’s (primarily the high protein content), but of late, my go-to grain has been…you guessed it!
Have you tried it? I mean, besides in of a can of Campbell’s Beef Barley or Scotch Broth? Actually, Scotch Broth was where I first discovered my love of barley, many many years ago. I don’t think I even knew that it was sold dry and separate from the red and white label (ah, youth).
But now that I have discovered it, there’s no going back! Although the protein content of barley is about half that of quinoa (that’s ok, I’ll just eat twice as much!), it surpasses the little seed in fibre. It also boasts a slight boost in iron, and seems to be comparable in most other areas.
Barley doesn’t take too long to prepare (about half an hour once the water has boiled). It still needs to be rinsed before going in the pot (you’ll see why when you do it), and I always rinse it after so that it doesn’t stick together in a big, impenetrable glom after it cools.
It is also just as versatile as quinoa! I have shoveled it in mixed with caramelized onions, or with soya sauce, kale and black beans (and maybe some Daiya),
or with sauteed peppers and mushrooms. It has yet to disappoint.
And best of all, I could happily eat it right out of the pot!
So, if you haven’t already – meet Barley.
If you’re a closet Quinoa Unenthusiast like me – you’re welcome!