Barley and Rye Flakes and Unhulled Sesame Seeds… We NEED ‘Em!

There are a few very healthy foods that are almost impossible to find in our local grocery stores, health food stores, and whole foods markets. And this really bugs me.

So much so, that I thought I’d pass on what they are, along with their health benefits. My reason for doing so? Maybe if enough people know about these and ding their grocery store managers to carry them, we’ll finally have easy access to them (at affordable prices)!

First on my list is BARLEY FLAKES. These look like rolled oats, but they’re from the whole grain, barley. Research shows barley benefits the heart, blood pressure, and bones. It helps in maintaining a healthy weight, and it provides a high percentage of your daily requirement of manganese and selenium. Barley also has a very high percentage of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It’s a true super grain!

Barley flakes are delicious in granola or cooked as you would those proverbial rolled oats. They’re also wonderful in cookies. They make a terrific addition to any meatloaf, as well.

Because there’s not a lot of call for them, they tend to be a bit expensive, however. On you can find a four pound bag for $25.59 ($6.40 per pound). But at, they’re $3.99 per pound, or 5 pounds for $19.35. And I suspect that if I spent more time browsing, I would find a few other online sources for this wonderful food. But of course, you’d have to factor in shipping and handling charges. Grrrrrr. Why can’t we just get them at the grocery store!?

OK, now on to another healthy food. In the same vein as barley flakes is RYE FLAKES. It is closely related to wheat and barley. The grain is used as rye flour, for making rye bread, and in brewing alcoholic beverages.

And rye’s health benefits are just as impressive as those of barley. This grain aids weight loss, prevents gallstones, helps control diabetes, improves digestion, boosts metabolic function, helps lower blood pressure, helps prevent cancer, and helps prevent or control asthma. Rye is packed with protein, fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, and folate.

Rye flakes can be used the same way you’d use oat or barley flake-as a cooked breakfast cereal, in granolas, in cookies, and in meatloaf.

These are also a bit expensive. You’ll find them on for $6.73 a pound. They do show up on a few other sites, but amazon seems to have the best price. Again, though, there’s the shipping and handling charges. (More grrrrrrr…)

Finally, there’s UNHULLED SESAME SEEDS. These beauties are LOADED with absorbable calcium. It’s a snap to find sesame seeds everywhere you go, but they’re always hulled (the outer coating removed). While the hulled varieties are definitely good for you, the unhulled have much more in the way of phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium, iron, methionine (which aids in liver detoxification), vitamin E and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15. And as mentioned, it's one of the best sources of calcium out there.

I finally found them at But oh are they expensive: $12.99 for 16 ounces (or $47.87 for 5 pounds). What would you do with 5 pounds of unhulled sesame seeds, you ask? I’d be putting them in everything from my morning rolled oats (or barley or rye if I could find them at more affordable prices!), in my smoothies, in my salads, in my casseroles, in my soups, in my granolas, and I’d be baking with them. (And still more grrrrrrr…)

Well, you get the picture. We need to unite and bug the heck out of our local grocers. Demand runs supply and ultimately, costs. So what do you say…are you in? We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by making our voices heard.

Now to thank you for enduring this soapbox tirade, here’s a wonderful recipe that we like a lot at our house. It doesn’t use barley, rye, or unhulled sesame seeds, though, BECAUSE YOU CAN’T FIND THEM (at affordable prices! Grrrrrr…) Anyway, this is our homemade granola bar that does well with the sugar-free recipe I just shared in my article, “A Granola That Doesn’t Need Sugar.” See what you think.


3 cups favorite granola

1/3 cup raw honey

1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped (or raisins)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips (optional)

  1. Combine butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract and the salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves.

  2. Pour butter mixture in to bowl with toasted oats and almonds. Mix well. Let cool about 5 minutes then add cranberries and a 1/4 cup of the mini chocolate chips. Stir to combine. (The chocolate chips will most likely melt a little. This is fine, they turn into glue and help to hold the bars together).

  3. Transfer oat mixture to lined pan then use a rubber spatula or damp finger tips to firmly press the mixture into the pan. (Press hard here, this way the bars will stay together once cooled and cut —press for about one minute to be extra safe).

  4. Scatter remaining 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips over pressed granola mixture then use a rubber spatula to gently press them into the top. Cover then refrigerate at least 2 hours. Remove block of granola mixture from pan then peel away aluminum foil. Cut into 12 bars.

  5. Store bars in an airtight container for up to one week. For the softest bars, keep at room temperature. For slightly harder bars, store in the fridge.

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    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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