Grains: My Secret Weapon

© Kana Okada.

Barley is served at room temperature in this terrific salad with walnuts,
parsley and salty bits of ricotta salata cheese in a lemon-garlic
vinaigrette. © Kana Okada.

Food & Wine's senior recipe developer, Grace Parisi, is a Test Kitchen superstar. In this series, she shares some of her favorite recipes to make right now.

My Diet Secret: Well, it may be no great revelation, but once I started adding whole grains to my diet at every meal, I began to trim down, have better energy and actually lowered my cholesterol. I (mistakenly) thought that as a distance runner, I could eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted with impunity. But slowly the weight crept up, as did my cholesterol, at an inverse relation to my energy level. Yeah, aging has a lot to do with it, but that’s all the more reason to be a bit more diligent. I’m not fanatical, though. I eat cake and candy and meat and dairy and butter, but not a lot and not often.

For this salad, I picked ingredients that are: A. easy to find; B. delicious; C. and pack a tremendous health punch. Walnuts are probably the healthiest nuts, with high levels of omega-3, antioxidants and fiber; parsley is high in anti-inflammatories and vitamin K, which is believed to help prevent cardiovascular disease. And the ricotta salata adds a bit of lean protein richness. Without getting preachy—because nothing’s more annoying than an overly zealous reformed anything—making a big batch of grain salad and eating it over the course of a few days is a real game changer. SEE RECIPE »

Related: Salads with Grains
Barley Recipes
Great Ricotta Recipes

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