Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hearty Vegan Barley Mushroom Stew, Low In Fat And Calories But Rich In Health Benefits

Medley of local mushrooms.

The Weather is Changing
Woke up to some chilly fall weather this morning. Time for barley mushroom stew. I'm reposting this from a recipe I wrote 2 years ago with some improvements.

We Don't Need to be SIck!
The number 1 cause of death in the United States is heart disease. The number 2 cause of death is cancer. This doesn’t have to be the case. Although people are quick to point out their “bad genes” and tell you that their health conditions were “passed down”, I don’t completely buy it. Yes, certain genes pass on terrible diseases, or at least your propensity to get these diseases. And, in some cases, very little can be done about it. But in most cases (some estimate over 80%), your parents’ degenerative disorders, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer, do not have to be a fait du compli. I believe that it’s not “genes” that we pass down, but “recipes” and “lifestyle habits”. You can help break the chain by not smoking, increasing your level of activity and of course, eating a healthy diet. The American Dietetic Association claims that vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and other diseases.

How Barley can help Prevent Heart Disease
In 2005, the FDA approved the health claim that the soluble dietary fiber, beta-glucan, found in barley can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. This is the same fiber that gives oats their heart healthy qualities. Studies have also shown that barley can lower total and LDL cholesterol in both men and women. High fiber foods, such as barley, have also shown to improve blood sugar levels and protect against colon cancer. This ancient grain is also a good source of manganese and selenium (a very powerful antioxidant).

Mushrooms - A True Longevity Food
Mushrooms have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to promote longevity. There are thousands of mushroom species. (DO NOT, however, pick wild mushrooms, as many of them are fatally toxic.) This low calorie, low fat, delicious food has been shown to boost your immune system, suppress tumors, resist both bacterial and viral infections and support cardiovascular health. Mushrooms are also high in B vitamins, copper, selenium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Many people have just eaten the little white, button mushrooms, but for the most health benefits, branch out and try shitake, crimini, portobello, oyster and many others. Some of these can be rather pricey, but they don’t weigh much and they are worth every penny. Look for local mushroom growers in your area.

Hearty, Low Calorie Main Course
This barley mushroom stew is a low calorie, low fat, nutritious main course which combines the magical powers of barley and mushrooms. To add color and many healthy plant chemicals, this recipe includes red and green bell peppers. Red peppers contain lycopene, a carotenoid that has gotten a lot of recent attention in its ability to protect against cancer and heart disease.
To add some "meat-like" flavor, you can toss in your favorite vegan link. My favorite is Field Roast Smoked Apple Sausage.


Barley, Mushroom Stew
[makes 4 large servings]
2 t olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced onions
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
1 1/2 cups diced celery
3 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound of assorted mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

2/3 cup of pearl barley, rinsed
4 cups veggie broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 shakes of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 bell peppers, 1 red, 1 green, diced
1 Field Roast smoked apple sage vegan sausage link (optional)
3 T of fresh parsley, chopped

On medium heat, sauté the onion, carrots and celery in 2 teaspoons of olive oil for 4 minutes.
Add the garlic, stir for a minute and then the mushrooms. Cook until they soften, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the barley, veggie broth, bay leaf, salt, black pepper and cayenne (NOT the peppers) and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 35 minutes.
Add the peppers and cook an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the barley is tender and much of the broth is absorbed.
If you want to add a vegan link, take the link and dice it into small pieces. Sauté in a small, lightly greased non-stick pan until it is warm and crisp. Stir into the soup right before serving.
Remove the bay leaf and garnish each bowl with ½ T of parsley.

Per serving (no vegan link): 237.3 calories, 2.8 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 7.2 g protein, 46.3 g carbohydrates and 9.5 g of dietary fiber.

Per serving with one vegan link: 297.3 calories, 5.3 g fat, 0.3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 13.7 g protein, 49.1 g carbohydrates and 10.3 g of dietary fiber.



Debra said...

It is starting to get really cold here in Utah and I am definately going to make more soups. This stew with the mushrooms looks awesome. I just printed the recipe and it is on my list of what to make next week. Thank you:)

Jenna said...

I made this stew last night, ate it for dinner, leftovers were lunch, and am already craving it again. So simple, filling, and delicious! Thanks for sharing!

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Hi Jenna,
So glad you enjoyed it. It's one of our favorites too. I love the texture of barley and mushrooms together.
Thanks for your comment!