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  • Writer's pictureTania

Healthy Food Guide Slow-cooked Beef, Barley & Vegetables

A hearty and nourishing one-pot meal that can also be cooked in a slow-cooker while you are at work. Imagine coming home knowing the evening meal is all done, save for stirring in some spinach and microwaving the beans!

An ideal meal to warm the cockles on a winter's night - a tasty combination of meat, veg and wholegrains. Using a cheaper cut of meat saves a bit of cash, and cooking it low and slow tenderises the meat and brings out the flavour. This recipe makes enough for six people, so you may also find it's a handy option for lunch - dinner can taste even better the next day, as the flavours have developed further. You may get a few envious looks in the lunchroom if you turn up with this!

Barley is an often overlooked wholegrain, but one well suited to casseroles and hearty winter soups. Barley contains protein, potassium, phosphorus, folate, calcium, zinc, iron, vitamin E and niacin; it also contains both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre. The soluble fibre beta-glucan binds to bile acids and lowers blood cholesterol levels, while insoluble fibre helps fill you up for longer and can reduce your chance of developing bowel cancer by improving bowel health. Using a wholegrain in a casserole in this way increases your fibre intake, as well as bulking out the meat part of the dish, making it go further.

If you have Coeliac disease and need to make this dish gluten-free, you can replace the barley with brown rice. Brown rice has a similar nutrient profile, with the exception of a bit less fibre and iron, and adding selenium to the mix. You will also need to use a gluten-free stock and serve the casserole with gluten-free bread.

If you find fresh green beans hard to get hold of at this time of year, (or want to reduce the food miles and plastic packaging that often come with imported beans), frozen beans are a great option. You could also use frozen peas - a common staple in most New Zealand freezers!

While you are on the Healthy Food Guide site, consider a subscription - there are three different options you can choose:

  1. Digital only: $23.40 a year gives you access to thousands of recipes, and loads of practical articles, expert advice and tips.

  2. Print only: $54.90 a year, and you get a magazine a month delivered free to your door.

  3. Digital + Print: $59.90 a year gets you a magazine delivered, and full access to the online content.

You will find a wonderful collection of hearty and nourishing meals to warm you this winter.


Sivakumaran, S., Huffman, L., Sivakumaran, S. (2017). The Concise New Zealand Food Composition Tables (12th Ed.). The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited, and Ministry of Health: Palmerston North, New Zealand.

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