top of page
  • Writer's pictureTania

More plants: Pearl Barley Tabbouleh

First in a series of recipes to help you boost the variety of plants you eat in a week.

Research is consistently showing the benefits of plant foods in our diet. We know fibre is incredibly important for our overall health (and to decrease our risk of many common diseases such as bowel cancer, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease), but it seems variety is also key to unlocking the amazing health benefits of eating plants.

A 2019 study suggested that 30 different types of plants eaten each week was the optimum number. Professor Tim Spector of King's College London, who was involved in the project, gives a nice overview of the research here.

So how do we boost the variety of plant foods in our diet to reap these benefits?

A good start can be keeping a food diary for three days, to get an indication of the plant variety in your diet at the moment. Have a look at the plant foods you eat: Do you have an apple and a banana every single day, and no other type of fruit? Are peas the only green veggies you eat? Do you have any plant foods at lunch at all? If your current diet lacks variety, try to mix things up a little, introduce some new options, and in order to meet the 30 a week target, you are going to have to poke plants into as many meals and snacks as you can.

I know work lunches can be a chore, but I am a big fan of packing my own (saves money, and it helps me keep track of how many servings of each of the four food groups I eat in a day).

This recipe came about on a Sunday when I was thinking of how on earth I was going to use the mint that was going gangbusters in my garden. I love the smell, I love its lush green leaves, but I never really know what to do with it... so this tabbouleh recipe was born.

Pearl Barley Tabbouleh

  • 1/2 cup pearl barley

  • 1 cup water

  • mint leaves (I used three good sprigs' worth)

  • 3 spring onions (white parts, sliced thinly)

  • cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1/2 a capsicum, finely chopped (red, green or yellow - whatever you have)

  • 2-3 tablespoons of dukkah (a yummy spice blend available in supermarkets)

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

  • salt and pepper to taste


Put the barley and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer with the lid on for around 20 minutes, or until the barley is cooked.

Meanwhile, chop the mint leaves finely and add to a large bowl with the spring onions, cherry tomatoes, chopped capsicum, and dukkah. Once the barley is cooked, leave it to cool, then add it to the bowl and mix it with the other ingredients. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep in the fridge - makes around 3 cups.

You can also add a few extras to boost plant variety and tweak flavours!


  • kumera or pumpkin cut into cubes, tossed in olive oil and Moroccan seasoning and roasted

  • finely chopped fresh chilli (if you like some heat)

  • 1/2 cup of tinned chickpeas

  • diced avocado

  • diced cucumber

  • a handful of dried cranberries, sultanas or chopped dates (for little pops of sweetness)

  • some chopped parsley

  • chopped tamari almonds (for extra crunch)

You could also add some extra protein to round out your lunch:

  • chop a couple of boiled eggs into the tabbouleh

  • add some shredded leftover meat from dinner (chicken, beef, lamb)

  • how about a good handful of crumbled feta cheese?

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Bacon and Veggie Fried Rice

This tramping meal uses dehydrated rice and dehydrated veggies from my previous blogpost. Into each small press-seal bag, place: 65 grams of cooked and dehydrated Basmati rice 15 grams of dehydrated m


bottom of page