Back in 2009 I wrote about cereals made with the new BarleyMax grain. Then they were tough and often looked over-baked or dark-brown in colour. Since then, they’ve come a long way and are now made by Freedom Foods so I was asked to take another look at them. Here’s what I found.
This post has been sponsored by Barley+ and Freedom Foods.
I got confused by these similar-sounding terms so it’s worth taking a moment to clarify. Barley+ is the range of products that contain BarleyMax and is the range I’m reviewing here. BarleyMax is the grain. It is a non-GM cultivar (strain) of barley developed by CSIRO scientists in the late 1990s. They were looking for a type of barley with a higher fibre content and extra nutrition benefits. After a number of human trials, they reported that their BarleyMax had a low Glycaemic Index (GI), meaning it was digested and absorbed slowly, the opposite of most refined carbs like potatoes and white bread.
BarleyMax is a wholegrain that delivers the three important types of fibre – soluble, insoluble and resistant starch. In fact, BarleyMax has the highest fibre content of any whole grain – even oats, rye and wheat - thanks to its resistant starch.
The resistant starch in BarleyMax does four things. It:
Best of all, nutritionists recommend barley for better gut health which means it’s good for your digestion and your overall health.
You’ll be able to spot three types of products, located in the health food aisle of Coles supermarket (at the time of publication):
Our panel of tasters chomped their way through bowls and bowls plus bars and bars during the course of this Review. Let’s look at each of them in turn.
You’ll find two flavours of muesli:
|BarleyMax 73%, whole grain rolled oats 9%, pink lady apple 5% (food acid (ascorbic acid)), macadamias 3.5%, coconut sugar, canola oil, sultanas, pepitas 2%, sunflower seeds 2%, natural apple flavour, antioxidant (vitamin E).
Porridge is hearty and warming once the weather turns cold and this type of porridge won’t disappoint. It’s a mix of 51 per cent BarleyMax and 49 per cent rolled oats. It cooks up on the stove top just like a traditional oaty porridge but of course has those extra BarleyMax health benefits.
You can also soak it overnight and then microwave a single serve when you’re rushed in the mornings.
We taste-tested the 4 varieties of bars –
|BarleyMax (whole grain rolled barley flakes 23%), chicory root fibre, whole grain rolled oats (15%), brown rice syrup, berries 8%, (cranberries 6%, blueberries 2%), pepitas, canola oil, puffed rice, yoghurt pieces 4%, humectant (glycerol), natural yoghurt flavour, natural blueberry flavour, antioxidant (vitamin E).
These products contain gluten, as all barley foods do, so would not be suitable for those with coeliac disease.
Anyone who doesn’t have a lot of time but wants better health and convenience
I like that Freedom Foods has developed an easy 28-day Gut Reboot Plan to help you feel good. All you have to do is eat 1 serve (1/2 cup) of the muesli every day (or every second day if you think it’s too much at the beginning). Plus one Barley+Bar at some point in the day as well as do some light exercise and eat an otherwise-healthy diet.
They warn you that during the first few days, you might feel a little extra gas in your gut which is a good thing! Despite being conditioned to think of ‘wind’ as bad, a little gas is an easy indication that the bugs are getting stronger and fighting back. It’s something to be pleased about!
However, they caution you to introduce the barley fibre slowly at first. Just start with a little, say 1/3 cup of the muesli for 1 to 3 days, until your body gets used to it. That BarleyMax ingredient can cause tummy bloating, pain and wind if you’re not used to it.
These are great products to introduce into your daily diet and they add diversity – I love them as they add another grain that’s not wheat. With their special ingredients, they offer a hefty dose of fibre, as well as protein, B vitamins, phosphorus and other minerals, Plus you’ll be boosting your whole grain intake. All good reasons to look out for them in the supermarket aisles.
Thanks to our tasters Dave, Annie, Munaiba and Lesley.
Thanks to dietitian Sophie Feng for the photographs of the product.