Barley is one of the oldest grains, with a history of cultivation dating back over 8,000 years. A 1-cup serving of cooked barley contains 193 calories, less than 1 g of fat, 3.6 g of protein and 6 g of fiber. The soluble fiber and natural oil components found in barley can help lower cholesterol, and because barley is low on the glycemic index, it has a slow and steady effect on your blood sugar levels. Using a slow cooker, you can prepare barley as a breakfast cereal, as a substitute for rice or as an addition to soups, stews or casseroles.
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Measure 1 cup of barley into your slow cooker. Add 4 cups of liquid for pearl barley and 4.5 cups of liquid for hulled barley. Use low-sodium chicken or beef broth to prepare barley as a savory side dish or water for preparing it as a breakfast cereal.
Mix in finely chopped herbs and vegetables, such as garlic, onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms, green onions or parsley to add flavor, if you plan to serve the barley as a side dish.
Cover and set your slow cooker to low. Let the barley cook for six to eight hours, or until the barley grouts are tender. If you plan to eat the barley for breakfast, turn on your slow cooker just before you go to bed.
Fluff the barley with a fork and serve it as is. For a breakfast cereal, add in milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, chopped nuts or fresh fruit to taste.