Vegetables have always been a huge part of my diet. Not a day goes by without vegetables in my kitchen, and even those days when we come back from holidays to an empty fridge, I still have bags of frozen veggies in the freezer to cook with. Being pregnant, it is even more important to nourish my body and my baby with an array of vitamins, and one of the healthiest and most delicious ways to do so is by increasing one’s intake of fruits and vegetables.
Lunches nowadays consist mostly of big grain salads, which not only provide tons of fiber and nutrients but also fuel my body with energy and keep me going. Now that I am past the half-way mark of my pregnancy, I’m finding myself hungrier than ever before, so a nutritious and filling lunch is of utmost importance to keep both baby and I happy and healthy.
I love making salads with bulgur and quinoa, but I also love experimenting with other healthy grains like barley. Barley is one of those power foods that doesn’t get as much love as it should — it’s not only delicious, but it is also packed with vitamins and minerals. It does take longer than quinoa to cook (between 30 and 40 minutes depending on which type of barley you are using), but you can always prep in advance over the weekend and cook a batch of it to use in meals throughout the week.
One of my favorite salad combinations lately has been grains with roasted vegetables. Just take whatever vegetables you have left in your fridge and roast them with spices and herbs and add them to your grains. Dress up the salad with your favorite dressing, add some nuts if you love them as much as I do, and you’ll have a colorful, hearty and nutritious salad ready for lunch.
For more salad recipes, click here
- 1 cup dry pearl barley
- 3 cups water
- 1 small eggplant, cut into small cubes
- 1 small zucchini, cut into small cubes
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into small cubes
- 1 red onion, cut into thick wedges
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons pine nuts
- 15 Greek olives, pitted
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 200*C/390°F.
- Rinse the barley in a sieve. Bring the barley to boil in a pot with the water and a pinch of salt. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes until cooked through. The barley should be tender and chewy. Drain the barley if any water remains and set aside to cool.
- While the barley is cooking, combine the eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, red onion, paprika, oregano, salt, pepper and olive oil in a mixing bowl. Put all the vegetables in a baking tray and roast them for 20 to 30 minutes until cooked through and golden. Set aside to cool.
- In a small jar, shake the salad dressing ingredients together.
- In a bowl, combine the cooked barley, roasted vegetables and pine nuts and pour the dressing on top. Mix to coat all the barley and vegetables and serve the salad at room temperature.