Overnight barley is a great way to start your day. It's easy to make and full of nutrients. Plus, it tastes great and has a wonderful mouthfeel.
Barley Porridge for the Win, Please!
Two things happened recently that led me to overnight barley:
I've been looking for functional foods that will help me with blood sugar and blood pressure. Whole grains are incredibly wholesome and can support a range of dietary needs. They're very "functional" you might say.
I ran out of oats and had to do a grocery run to restock my pantry.
Plus, I really dig trying new recipes and food hacks. Overnight grains, therefore, was an appealing proposition to me.
I don't typically eat a lot of bready/grainy/starchy carbs — but when I get a hankering for this sort of thing, I want it to to double duty. It's gotta fill me up literally *and* figuratively!
Why Barley Cereal?
OK, so why barley? Why not jump right back onto the oatmeal bandwagon? Let's break it down....
First, a word on grains in general. They're awesome because their versatility is off the charts. Grains can be an as-is ingredient or milled into a meal or flour. You can incorporate them into breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. Foods and drinks, sweet or savory!
I just love that you can make so many different kinds of culinary creations with them.
Some grains — like oatmeal — are brilliant outside of the kitchen, too. They've been used in beauty care and home remedies for millennia.
Gotta give these guys props!
Benefits of Barley
The list is impressive. I'm not going to go into detail here and now, but barley's got it goin' on! Check out some of the ways barley loves you from the inside out:
It's loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other phytocompounds that do a bod great.
It can fill you up and reduce the sensation of hunger, both of which can help with weight loss (and management) efforts.
Its high fiber content facilitates better digestion and gut health.
It might reduce "bad" cholesterol levels while boosting the "good" levels.
It may cut the risk of heart disease by doing things like reducing blood pressure levels.
It could help prevent diabetes by dropping blood sugar levels and insulin function.
It might protect you from having a stroke.
It supports bone health.
You get the idea — it's legit stuff!
The Battle of Barley vs Oats
Well, that's a bit dramatic, really. While different, both are good-for-grains with a place at my table ( and in ma belly!).
That said, barley has a lower glycemic load, less fat, and fewer calories than oats. It also has more fiber and vitamins B2, B3, and B6.
Conversely, oats have greater amounts of calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamins B1 and B5, and folate. If gluten's a concern, oats may be a better option as well.
The nutritional profile of barley is more aligned with my current wellness interests. I'm looking for the grain that registers lower on the glycemic index and really shines in terms of supporting metabolic and cardiovascular health.
Beyond that, I've come to discover what countless folks before me have: Barley keeps its structure and texture better than oats (especially when cooking or soaking them). I tend to prefer the slightly chewy bite of barley to the creamier or mushier consistency of oats.
I also feel like barley has a more subtle flavor than oats. Or maybe the issue is that my oats/oat bran were stale....
A Barley Breakfast You'll Barely Be Able to Resist
Cooking with barley is super easy. Like, it can be as simple as dumping it into that vat of soup you've got burbling away on the stove.
But, one of the beauties of overnight barley is that cooking with barley is a non-thing. It's a dump-n-go sorta scenario that's ideal for people who:
Can't cook but like yummy eats
Hate to cook but like yummy eats
Are too busy to cook but like yummy eats
Are too lazy/unmotivated to cook but like yummy eats
Like like yummy eats....
OK, moving on.
How To Make Overnight Barley
My inspiration came from Amy Gorin Nutrition's Overnight Barley Breakfast Bowl with Maple and Chia Seeds recipe. I took liberties to suit my whim and what I had in the fridge/cupboard. You are encouraged to do the same — this is just a springboard for you to launch from!
Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients & Supplies
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon rolled barley flakes
3 tablespoons black chia seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (6 oz.) plain oatmilk yogurt (I used Nancy's Probiotic Oatmilk Non-Dairy Yogurt.)
3/4 cup filtered water
2 tablespoons date syrup (I used Joolie's Date Syrup.)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
About 1/2 cup frozen nectarine slices, broken into bite-sized pieces
Container with a tight-sealing lid (I used an old 32 oz. Mezzetta Giardiniera jar I'd saved in a cabinet for just such an occasion! I am not a packrat — just a pre-planner....)
Measuring spoons and cups
Spoon with a long-ish handle (A soup spoon works just fine.)
Step 2: Assemble Your Barley Breakfast
Combine the dry ingredients in your container and give it a quick mix to help ensure the cinnamon won't clump or stay on top when you add the liquids.
Add in the yogurt and mix well to start evenly incorporating and coating the dry ingredients.
Add in the water, date syrup, and vanilla extract. Give this concoction a might stir, blending everything as well as you can. You can even seal the container and shake/roll the contents to better homogenize everything inside.
Once you're satisfied that the mix is well blended, fold in the frozen fruits til they're evenly distributed throughout the barley porridge.
Seal the container tightly and refrigerate, ideally for at least a couple of hours. If you're impatient or a bit obsessive like me, you can tumble your grainy-fruity mix periodically.
Step 3: Enjoy Your Barley Cereal!
Sure, you can save this for breaky. But it also is a hard 10/10 as a snack or dessert.
You can heat your barley porridge up if you want. It's so satisfying, though, that I can't wait to eat it so I've only had it cold. Straight from the fridge, usually I take the time to plop it into a bowl. (But I'm not going to lie — I'm the only one eating it so sometimes I just indulge jar-spoon-mouth style.)
My version of this recipe probably makes 3-4 full-sized breakfast portions or 4-6 smaller nosh-sized portions. This is up to you I'd say, and maybe your willpower.....
Overnight Barley — Crowd Pleaser?
Have you tried overnight barley? What do you think? Let the interwebz know!
As always, thanks in advance for sharing (and caring). :-)
🙋 It's Barley Cooking Time! FAQs + Answers 🙋
Can you make overnight oats with barley?
They are two different grains. So your options are to use oats, barley, or some of both. Either way, both oats and barley can be prepared using the "overnight oats" method.
Can you soak barley overnight?
Yup, you can soak any grain ya wanna! Soaking overnight just gives it time to soften and plump up. Soaking in milk, spices, fruit, etc. lets your barley absorb the flavors. Soaking can also help boost the nutrition and digestibility of some grains.
Do I need to soak barley overnight?
No. You just want to give your barley ample time to soften, get juicy, and take on/meld with the other delicious ingredients you've mixed them with. So, you can soak them for a stretch of time during the day if you wish. There's nothing magical about the "overnight" part. To my knowledge, the barley isn't syncing to a circadian rhythm, tides, vampires or anything....
Give Overnight Barley a Try — It's an All-Around Winner!
Overnight barley is akin to overnight oats, just swapping the barley in for the oats. In general, overnight grains are easy to prepare, versatile, and highly nutritious.
Barley, in particular, offers a ton of health benefits while still being a low glycemic food. It also retains its shape and texture better than some other soaked grains — which may please the palate.
Go ahead and give'em a try!