Cozy up with Spiced Apple Barley Breakfast
Updated: Oct 14, 2021
Ah, the smell of warm spices and sweet apple pie are sure signs that autumn has properly arrived. And luckily for us, the form of a healthy, nourishing hot breakfast cereal with one of my new favorite grains - barley!
Barley is one of the grains that flies totally under the radar, unappreciated in mainstream American "cuisine." Only about 2% of barley cultivated goes towards direct human consumption, and most of it actually is used for animal feed! Nevertheless, it is not only a main ingredient in common foods and beverages such as beer, malt flour, and malt syrup, but it is also has a myriad of health benefits when consumed as a whole food.
Ayurvedically speaking, barley is dry, rough, sweet, astringent, and overall a bit heavier to digest. You can probably tell when you cook barley - it takes a lot longer to break down than oats or rice. Studies have shown that the regular consumption of barley has the potential to lower the risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity . These healing effects make barley an excellent grain choice for balancing kapha dosha and related kapha conditions.
As we enter fall and the weather starts to cool down, we start to crave the warming spices and sweet, nourishing foods that the season has to offer. The following recipe offers the same cozy comfort as a bowl of cinnamon spice oatmeal but lightens it up a little bit by using barley instead of oats. It is absolutely delicious, so enjoy!
*Note on eating fruit with other foods: In Ayurveda and in other food combining philosophies, it is often said that fruit should not be eaten with other food. This is especially true of raw fruit. This recipe cooks both dates and apples into the oats. I was taught that cooked fruit is more acceptable and easier to digest with other foods. However, if you are sensitive to this heavier combination, you can omit the apples.
Spiced Apple Barley Breakfast
2 tsp ghee or coconut oil
4 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup flattened barley* or barley flakes
1 cup water
1 cup milk of choice (almond is a good choice)
3-4 Medjool dates, chopped (depending on your preferred sweetness)
1 apple, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
Juice of half a lemon
Heat the ghee/oil in a pot over medium-low heat until melted. Then add the whole spices and toast until aromatic, approximately 1 minute.** Then add the barley and toss with a spoon or spatula for a couple of minutes until the barley has absorbed the ghee and is just slightly toasted.
Add the water to the pot, and give it a stir. Then, add the milk, dates, and apples. Bring to a boil while stirring, then lower the heat to a simmer and partially cover. Allow to cook for 10-15 minutes until the apples are soft and the grains are creamy.
Once cooked, remove the spices and then add the lemon juice and stir well. Serve and enjoy!
*Flattened barley may take a little longer to cook than barley flakes, so you may want to soak them about 30 minutes before cooking.
**If you can't get whole spices, you can use 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom and 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and add these after the barley.
 Idehen, E., Tang, Y., & Sang, S. (2017). Bioactive phytochemicals in Barley. Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, 25(1), 148–161. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfda.2016.08.002