Italian Barley Salad
This flavorful salad is packed full of healthy plant based ingredients, that are guaranteed to give you a nutrition boost, while also being a fan favorite dish. This salad is vegan, plant based, dairy-free, high fiber, and great for improving gut health!
Happy Friday friends! I am so excited to share this recipe with you guys. Now that I moved back home with my parents for the foreseeable future, I have way more flexibility with the recipes I am creating(versus before where I was just cooking and meal prepping for myself). Therefore with this extra flexibility I am revisiting some of my old Instagram posts that I never shared recipes for, and posting them here so that you all will have easy access forever! This recipe was at the top of my list of recipes to redo. When I originally created this recipe I was so excited, because it was one of the best salads I had ever had in my life. There are so many vegetables and flavors that work so harmoniously together in this salad, and each of those ingredients brings its own unique health benefits to the salad.
If you are anyone looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle, I think the best advice to follow is to find simple ways to incorporate more plant based ingredients into your diet. The reasons why this is such an effective strategy for reaching your health goals is first and foremost because the more healthy plant based ingredients that you incorporate into your diet, the less unhealthy processed foods and animal products you will eat. Cutting back on these ingredients is the best thing you can do to start living a healthier lifestyle. The second reason this is so effective is when your diet includes more of these foods you can eat more, therefore feeling more full and satiated with less total calorie intake. If your goal is not to lose weight, be prepared to have to eat a little more than you would have before! The last reason I want to bring up I can personally only touch on a little, because the science is overwhelming, but the unique health benefits each plant brings to the table. There is more and more science coming that proves how important it is to eat a variety of plants daily for overall health, and especially gut health(Head to my Amazon Storefront to checkout some of the books I recommend to everyone that are loaded with great information about a plant based diet).
A few tips I like to follow to be the healthiest version of me I can be is 1. Eating plant based, aka vegan. This one is obvious, but the best decision I ever made was going vegan, and I wake up everyday loving my diet. I do want to point out that within my vegan diet I do eat a whole foods plant based diet(I eat minimal amounts of processed food, and pretty much never eat "vegan junk food"). The next thing I do is I try to hit 50 different plants a week. This number may shock you, but it is easier than you may think(if you are just beginning your plant based journey I would recommend maybe trying for 30, I am sure you will be surprised how many you will hit!). I do this by planning my meals for the week on Sunday night. When I am planning them out I try to make sure that I am not eating the same vegetables over and over again throughout the week. 2. I love trying a new fruit/vegetable/whole grain/bean/legume/nut, etc. each week. There are over 300,000 edible plants on this planet, and it is my dream to try them all(que gotta catch 'em all lol). It's crazy to think there are this many, and we only eat about 100 of them. For me it is so fun to try something new each week, and it gets me excited about eating plants! It also makes grocery shopping a bit more fun, because I get to scope out new things! The last tip I would encourage you to follow is to buy plants in their whole form, or as minimally processed as possible. For example try buying dried beans instead of canned. Whole carrots instead of baby. Raw nuts and seeds, etc. When foods are processed (such as the canning process) a lot of the healthy gut bacteria that is on the plants is stripped away, as well as some of the vitamins and minerals. It may seem like a lot of things, but I promise you these are some of the best ways to adopt a healthier lifestyle, not to mention these are great ways to save money on groceries too!
Alright, now that I have rambled on for a bit, I want to quickly talk about this recipe. I normally try to make all my food oil-free, but with some salads oil is just a necessity. The main reason I avoid oil for the most part is because it has such a high calorie density. I have found that oil free cooking is actually very easy. When I avoid adding extra oil in things that can be easily made without it, I am more relaxed about using it in dressings such as this one. I always go for a healthy oil like extra virgin olive oil, or flaxseed oil! Time for the full recipe!
Serves: 4-6 Meal size portions
Total Time: 25 Minutes
6 Cups spring mix (about a large box, this is a rough estimate)
1 Cup barley
1 Large beet
1 Cup cherry tomatoes
1 Bunch asparagus
1 Can artichoke hearts
1 English cucumber
1/4 Cup white balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon italian seasoning
Begin by washing all your vegetables. Prepare the barley according to package instructions ( I used my ninja foodi to speed up the time an instapot works well too!).
Chop the beet up and steam until soft. You can also blanch the asparagus at the same time, making sure you give the strained asparagus an ice bath to ensure it stays bright ad green.
Add the spring mix, strained and rinsed artichoke hearts together. Chop both the cucumber and cherry tomatoes in half and add to the salad. Once barley and vegetables are done cooking cool them off with cold water before adding to the salad.
To make the dressing simple combine vinegar, oil, pepper and seasoning together and pour over the salad. Toss the salad and serve, enjoy!