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Simple Pearl Barley Salad
Simple Pearl Barley Salad

The autumn is slowly sneaking in here in Estonia, and for me, it always means some changes on my menu. I still love salads, but instead of leafy greens that are main heroes in my summer salads, they are now a little heartier. Hence barley in today’s delicious bowlful.

Barley is somewhat a national food for us Estonians, or at least it used to be. It is traditionally cooked with potatoes and pork, and then lightly mashed to something called ‘Mulgipuder.’ Mulgipuder is often served with crispy fried pork fat (greaves in English, I think) and sour cream. I don’t even remember when was the last time I had it, but now thinking about it I just started graving it… Especially the leftovers heated up on a frying pan, so it turns nice and crispy… mmm!

Talking about Estonian kitchens, it is traditionally a cross between German (sausages and sauerkraut) and Russian (potatoes, a lot of meat, soups) but today leaning more towards the clean Scandinavian kitchens. So here was a sneak peek to Estonian cuisine.

Should I share some Estonian recipes with you sometime soon? Let me know in the comments! 

Anyway, back to the salad, this is very far from anything traditional. No pork or potatoes used in any way – in fact it is fully vegan. However, it is delicious! I like how simple it is to throw together and how fresh it is from different herbs. You can play around with different herbs and veggies to customize it to your liking and the massive bonus for this salad is that it stores well. Perfect for office lunch or make-ahead dinner. To prove that it is a crowd-pleaser – I once served it to 4 of my friends for lunch, and within a week 2 of them already showed off their concoctions on Instagram!

Simple Pearl Barley Salad

Serves: 5

Cooking time: 40 minutes


10 oz pearl barley (if possible, then soak them for a few hours before cooking)

2 larger tomatoes (I always prefer heirlooms)

1 large cucumber

½ daikon

2 ripe avocados

A handful of fresh dill

A handful of fresh basil

A handful of fresh parsley

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt and plenty of freshly cracked pepper

Instructions: Cook the barley and let cool. Presoaked parley takes around 20 minutes to cook; if you don’t have time for soaking, the cooking time will be longer.

Chop up tomatoes, cucumber, daikon, and avocado.

Chop the herbs and zest the lemon.

Mix the cooled barley with lemon juice and oil, and then carefully fold in everything else. 

Season with salt and pepper, have a taste. If needed, add more herbs, seasoning or lemon.

You can either serve the salad immediately or store it for later. Tried and tested that it still tastes good in 2 days.

By Kadri Raig

Kadri is a food blogger and yoga teacher from Estonia. She loves healthy food and cooking and for her, these two are often the same thing. Cooking meals from scratch, you know exactly what goes in it and even without holding back with sugar or fat we end up using a lot less compared to ready-made frozen stuff from the supermarket.

She does love to spend time in the kitchen, but most of her recipes are simple and don’t take more than 20 minutes of active cooking time. She thinks that everybody can find time to cook healthy food at home, it is just a question of planning. "I work in an office full time, teach yoga 7-8 hours a week and write a blog. So if I manage to cook most of my meals, then so do you!" Connect with Kadri and enjoy many more of her delicious healthy recipes on her website here:

Eat healthy with recipes like these and practice yoga to keep your body and mind in optimal shape. Never tried yoga before? Explore with this entry level 5-class Beginner Yoga 101 series!

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