Have you heard of the Guiding Stars nutrition rating system? Look for the Guiding Stars logo on all kinds of foods (fresh and packaged), which are evaluated using an algorithm that assigns credits based on the presence of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and whole grains... and debits for the presence of the trans fat, saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars and added sodium.
Rated foods are awarded zero, one, two or three stars.
- 0 means no nutritional value (e.g., fishy crackers)
- 1 star means good nutritional value (e.g., oat-bran pretzels)
- 2 stars, better nutritional value (e.g., raisins)
- 3 stars, the best nutritional value (e.g., oranges)
It's simple to understand, and the scientific experts they use are reputable (I checked).
Guiding Stars recently ran a "Big Game" recipe challenge for readers to come up with a three-star entry for Super Bowl Sunday, and Mindee Curtis of Omaha, Neb., submitted the winning entry of Baja Barley Salad, bursting with great ingredients like bell peppers, spinach, tomatoes, garlic, jalapeno, and lime zest.
I'm going to try it this Sunday while cheering the Saints! And try our Super Bowl party spread for even more delicious, healthy, and unusual finger foods to cheer.
Baja Barley Salad
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1/2-inch diced
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup small diced red onion
2 ounces fresh baby spinach, julienned
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno peppers, seeded
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 ripe avocados, seeded, peeled, and 1/2-inch diced
1. Cook barley according to package directions and cool completely. When cool, combine barley with tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, red onion, spinach, jalapeno peppers, and lime zest in a large bowl. Whisk together lime juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper, and garlic and pour over vegetables. Toss well. Just before serving, fold in diced avocados. Check the seasoning and serve at room temperature.