Barley for breakfast might seem like an odd concept for some, but whole grains make truly excellent morning fare.  They have lots of fiber and even some protein, two things a good breakfast should definitely contain.  They also end up being far less expensive than packaged cereal (though you always want to try and find whole grains in bulk, as packaged grains tend to be marked up significantly).   Make it ahead of time and you'll have a hot breakfast in less than two minutes the next morning and throughout the week! 

This recipe is also a really wonderful way to use overripe bananas.  How many of us have thrown out brown bananas because we knew we'd never get around to making banana bread?  Instead, remove the fruit from its peel, throw it in a container or plastic bag and freeze it.  Frozen bananas are great to have around if you like to make smoothies, or you can think of other creative ways to use them up!

Banana-Almond Breakfast Barley
makes 6 to 8 servings

2 T butter (or non-dairy substitute)
5 overripe bananas (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups pearled barley
3-4 cups milk (or substitute - almond or coconut milk work best)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp herbs de provence (optional)
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Add butter to a large saucepan and melt over medium-high heat.  Add bananas and allow to lightly caramelize in the butter for about 5 minutes.  Add barley and stir.  Reduce heat to medium and add 2 cups of milk, salt and herbs de provence.  Allow barley to simmer, uncovered, reducing heat to medium-low once liquid starts to bubble.  Stir frequently until barley has absorbed most of the liquid.  Add another cup of milk and repeat the cooking process.  Barley will take at least 30 minutes to cook.  It should be chewy but not at all chalky in the center (if after 3 cups it still doesn't taste done, add one more cup and repeat cooking process).  Once the barley is cooked, add sliced almonds.  Taste and adjust salt if necessary.  Mix well and serve.

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