September is Whole Grains Month. It’s also Better Breakfast Month. I don’t know who decides these things, but at least whole grains and better breakfasts go together. Sure, there’s all kinds of whole grain products out there, but Oldways — and I — are all about the pleasures and beneﬁts of heritage cuisine, so I’m glad to share a new spin on a Middle Eastern favorite: belila.
Traditionally, it’s made with cracked wheat. Here, wheat’s out, barley, an ancient whole grain, is in. How ancient? Dating back to the Bible. But what barley offers in terms of wellness and ﬂavor appeal feels brand new.
Barley grains retain their shape after cooking and out-ﬁber all other whole grains for pleasing chew and super satisfaction. With a subtle nutty ﬂavor, barley pairs beautifully with nuts, cinnamon, and dates, which impart plenty of natural sweetness.
This breakfast barley is comfort in a bowl, perfect for Better Breakfast Month and Whole Grains Month, plus a sweet start to the Jewish New Year. Dates and barley are two of Judaism’s seven sacred foods.
- ⅔ cup barley
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 6 Medjool dates pitted and coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup almonds toasted and coarsely chopped
- A shake or two of cinnamon
- Pour barley into a generous bowl, cover with water, and let it soak for a few hours or even overnight.
- Drain barley, rinse and pour into a large saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for another 20 minutes, until the barley has plumped and absorbed most of the liquid.
- Pour in the almond milk and add the chopped dates. Continue cooking, giving the occasional stir, for another 10 minutes or until the barley starts to incorporate the almond milk and dates.
- Add chopped nuts, top with a dusting of cinnamon, and enjoy.