Blueberry Barley Muffins
I first fell in love with barley flour in 2005 when my mother and I visited Ladakh, a north Indian state nestled between the Kunlun mountain range and the main Great Himalayas. During our week-long stay, we were fortunate to meet a very kind taxi driver named Dorje. On our final day, Dorje brought us to the small village where he and his family lived. It was late September, which meant it was time to prepare for the long, harsh winter ahead. Dorje’s family was busy harvesting the region’s staple crop – an ancient form of domesticated barley which is used to make tsampa, or roasted barley flour. In Ladakh, Tibet, and parts of Nepal, tsampa is often prepared as a nourishing porridge, added to salty butter tea, or fermented into a hearty brew. Now, whenever I cook with regular barley flour or am lucky enough to have tsampa at my favorite Tibetan restaurant in New York (which is called Tsampa), I’m reminded of my time with Dorje and his kind family high in that majestic, mountainous land.
In addition to being delicious and versatile, barley is exceptionally nourishing. It’s also one of the world’s oldest cultivated foods, first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent around 8,000 BC. This low-glycemic grain is loaded with vitamins and minerals, as well as hearty amounts soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber plays a key role in helping the body metabolize fats, cholesterol and carbohydrates, as well as lowering blood cholesterol levels. Growing evidence suggests that the high amount of beta-glucan soluble fiber present in barley can help keep blood sugar levels stable by slowing starch digestion. Insoluble fiber promotes a healthy digestive tract, which can reduce the risks of certain digestive ailments and cancers. Barley does contain gluten but not as much as wheat.
I decided to buy some barley flour the other week and then created these sugar and dairy-free blueberry muffins. They make a yummy fiber and protein rich breakfast or snack for adults and kids. Stay-tuned – I hope to blog about roasted barley flour, or tsampa, porridge soon.
Blueberry Barley Muffins
Makes 8 medium sized muffins (about 2 3/4″ wide x 1 1/2″ deep)
- 1 cup Organic Barley Flour
- 3/4 cups Almond Flour or Meal
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon
- Dash of Nutmeg
- 2 Bananas, mashed
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon Organic Vanilla Extract
- 2 tablespoons Organic Coconut Oil, melted
- 2 tablespoon Maple Syrup
- 3/4 cups Blueberries (I like to use fresh or frozen organic wild blueberries)
- Line a muffin tin with eight 2 3/4″ wide x 1 1/2″ deep paper liners and preheat oven to 375˚.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the barley flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- In another bowl, beat eggs and then add the vanilla, melted coconut oil, and maple syrup. Stir in the mashed banana.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until incorporated. Then, stir in the blueberries.
- Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin liners.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until slightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack, removing the muffins from tin when cool enough to handle. Enjoy!
by Sophie Slater