Tag Archives: Peru

3 Ways to Eat Barley

22 May

Barley is an excellent source of fiber and essential amino acids (Google it or read the package it comes in). In addition to loving its taste and texture, I’ve noticed that it really has helped improve my digestive system. This fact is not only good news for my general health, but it also seems to have helped boost my metabolism. I feel like eating more yummy sources of fiber, like barley, is helping me lose weight in a really healthy way. Plus, barley is such a versatile grain. Below are just three ways I have incorporated it into our meals. I look forward to hearing more ideas from you readers! [Note: Barley does contain gluten.]

fried egg on barley

For a breakfast high in protein and fiber, throw a fried egg on some boiled barley and enjoy the yumminess!

Breakfast

By itself, boiled barley has a hearty grain taste. I like to cook it for a long time, stirring frequently (and occasionally adding extra water) so that the barley is soft and tender and the starch water thickens to a yummy consistency. Add a bit of salt while cooking. A bowl of this plain barley as a porridge can be a terrific alternative to oatmeal. Or, for extra protein and variety, throw a fried egg on top. It makes for a great-tasting, super healthy breakfast. By the way, in my experience, barley always takes longer to fully cook than the package indicates, so allow for extra boiling time.

Side Dish

The other day, I mixed boiled pearled barley with choclo cut off the cob. (Peruvian corn; for image and other uses, see this recipe). I boiled both separately first, then mixed them together and boiled them for an additional 30 minutes with some butter and salt (stirring every few minutes). The resulting side dish was one of the yummiest things I’ve made in a while. The texture of the corn perfectly complimented the barley. The taste of the extra soft barley with the potato-like corn and butter blended so well! I took some over to Vita’s apartment and we gobbled it all up. We started calling it kasha, which she taught me is a Russian word for a savory, hearty side dish like this turned out to be.

Main Course

I always cook enough dinner so that there are leftovers for lunch the next day. Sometimes there’s even more than that so I try to get creative and use the leftovers in new ways so that we’re not eating the same thing for three or four days in a row. For example, back in April, I made a giant batch of pea soup. There is still one small container of it in the freezer. Once defrosted, it will be enough for one big lunch or two small sides for dinner. However, I’ve also got some plain boiled barley left in the fridge, which can be an excellent ingredient in soup. So, I’m going to combine the leftover soup and the barley as a base for a stew. I haven’t made a final decision yet, but I plan to add some carrots and maybe also some choclo. It’ll be one of the heartiest vegetable stews I’ve ever made. We also have some leftover pulled pork roast, which could be added since the soup was originally ham stock-based, but I’m not sure about that yet.

pearled barley

Barley is a great source of fiber and amino acids. This tasty grain can be used in many types of hot and cold dishes.

There are so many other ways to cook barley. I even saw some recipes for salads that mix barley with soybeans and other veggies, which sounds really yummy. For a salad, I would stop cooking the barley once it reached a sort of “al dente” texture so that it would blend well with other cold veggies because you wouldn’t want mushy barley in a salad.

I hope you enjoy trying it out in new ways in your life!

–Michelle

Leftover Easter Ham Recipe #1: Spring Mix Pasta

11 Apr

Last night my husband had to work the late shift. When I’m on my own for dinner like that, one of two things happens: I either microwave a single serving of something for myself, or I get inspired to do something creative in the kitchen and take advantage of the fact that there won’t be any interruptions. We have a lot of leftover ham from Easter Sunday dinner so I’ve been thinking about all the things I could do with it. In past years, I’ve made all sorts of yummy hot and cold sandwiches with it. But this year, I’m in the mood for something different…and with less bread (one of the things I’m trying to drop off my personal menu in order to lose weight). I mentioned a few potential ideas–such as the ham stock soup I plan to make this week (I will post the recipe)–in my previous post about Easter eating. Looking at what we had to work with in the kitchen last night, this is what I came up with:

leftover ham recipe #1

Leftover Easter Ham Recipe #1: Spring Mix Pasta

Spring Mix Pasta.

Ingredients: 

– leftover ham cut into small pieces

– boiled noodles (I used spaghetti because that’s what we had but penne would be better for this)

– boiled choclo (or corn), cut off the cob

– a green veggie, such as peas or spinach

– seasoned white sauce (butter, flour, milk, salt, pepper, thyme, cumin)

Continue reading

Vacation Eating: East Coast Edition

10 Apr

We only get to go to New Jersey to visit my husband’s family about once a year because it’s hard to budget for the airfare these days. But when we get there, it’s a whirlwind of house-hopping to see each of his FIVE brothers, his mother, his aunt and cousin, and our friends in the area, all set to the sounds of merengue, salsa, bachata, and hip hop, and the smells and tastes of Peru, Brazil, and Newark. It’s always an amazing time. I fell in love with Newark when I moved out there to go to college…and then I fell in love with my husband, whom I met there. His family moved to Newark when he was a little kid. Being from the west coast, it was a crazy culture shock at first

Newark bridge

A Newark bridge on a cold, overcast morning.

to move to Newark, but after the first week, I knew I’d found a new home. I spent nearly five years there before we decided to move to Los Angeles for a while. It’s an area that has a little bit of everything from nearly every part of the world…with a distinct New Jersey attitude about it. Plus, it’s only a 15-minute train ride from Manhattan, which is awesome, of course.

Newark sunny

Newark on a bright sunny day during our trip. Beautiful springtime.

I can imagine us moving back there someday, but LA is my home too, so we envision a life of living in several places in the future. As long as we’re together, home is where your heart is, right? Anyway, my point is that we have a blast when we go there. And a lot of the fun and visiting is centered around food, which is a terrific, bittersweet problem to have because everything tastes great but I’m trying not to eat too much. When you’re around family and on vacation, it can be extremely difficult to not over-indulge or even feel pressured by others to eat more, as I described in this previous post. For example, practically the first words out of my Peruvian mother-in-law’s mouth were, “Estas rellena. Toma, come,” which, loosely translated means she told me I looked like I had filled out (was a little heavier) than when she last saw me and then she told me to eat the huge plate of food she was handing me. She cracks me up. I love her to death and she’s an awesome M-I-L, but how am I supposed to eat after being told I look ready-to-have-babies heavy? Ha! Because she raised six boys, bless her heart, she typically overloads a plate for me–even if I tell her it’s too much, she insists I eat it–so sometimes, when my husband finishes his plate before me, I’ll switch my half-eaten plate with his empty plate when no one is looking. :) He happily eats more, I sit there happily stuffed.

I noticed a few general diet-saboteurs that occur when traveling:

Continue reading

Family Eating Habits That Shape Us

22 Mar

There’s no denying that our environment and social behavior affects how and what we eat. Social eating as a separate issue will be a future post on this blog. But let’s start with a look at how we were raised to eat. Below, we both share descriptions of how our families approached meal options when we were growing up and how our perceptions of those choices affect our own approach to food now. We look forward to sharing how our meal-creating skills evolve as we continue to pursue our weight loss goals. [By the way, does chasing weight loss goals burn calories? ;) ]

Michelle’s Family:

I was fortunate, in a way, that I grew up with a few picky eaters in my family because they never forced me to eat anything I didn’t like or made me clean my plate if I was already full. My mom, for example, is lactose intolerant and has trouble eating many types of vegetables, so she has to get creative to keep up a balanced, nutritious diet. However, she is a wonderful mother, so when I was very little she wanted me to try lots of different foods to learn what I liked. Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: