Beef Barley Stew and Other Foods to Eat Without Wisdom Teeth

J got his wisdom teeth out yesterday, so his food options have been restricted to soft foods he can chew gently. My poor guy – he didn’t get put under for the procedure, because as of January 1st, our insurance company has a new policy that they won’t pay for anesthesia for wisdom tooth extraction (except for little kids). And because of J’s job, he can’t take narcotic painkillers without having to fill out a bunch of paperwork for his employer, and its a hassle. So he was awake, and his only pain management was a shot of novocaine to the jaw. He walked out looking like a zombie movie extra, and the only thing he could stomach yesterday were protein shakes and vanilla ice cream.

Today he was feeling a bit better, and I felt like tackling a more time-consuming dish because I don’t have class or work on Tuesdays. I am attempting to generally improve my diet (I’m not calling it dieting or losing weight because that’s never worked before!), and thanks to Pinterest, I have a whole stack of healthier, filling, especially-good-for-cold-weather meals.

Tonight’s selection was Beef Barley Soup, which, in my case, ended up being Beef Barley Stew. I’ve never used barley before, and I really enjoyed it in this stew. It is a great filler and a healthier alternative to the white pasta that I usually crave. I got the recipe from Skinnytaste – http://www.skinnytaste.com/2012/09/beef-barley-soup.html. This gal has some really fantastic, healthy recipes and I highly recommend you go over to Skinnytaste and check it out. I was going to use her picture, too, because none of mine worked out (must have been my lighting, because my liquid looked gray! And it wasn’t, really! Time to get serious about Googling food photography), but I didn’t know if that would be a breach of blogging etiquette of some sort.

I made a couple of changes from the original recipe. I added a whole cup of barley instead of 2/3rd cup. I have never worked with barley before, and when I measured it out and dumped it in the soup, it seemed like the proportions were off and I’d need more barley. What I didn’t realize is how much water barley absorbs as it cooks, and the full cup of barley soaked up enough of my liquid to turn it into a stew, not a soup. Lesson learned! I also added 2 tablespoons each of oregano, parsley, and thyme, which I think gave it an extra oomph.

For J’s portion, I had to scoop out the pieces of beef first and shred them, pulled pork style, to reduce he chew-time-per-spoonful. He didn’t seem very enthusiastic about it, but I’m not taking offense because he hasn’t been enthusiastic about anything since watching his own teeth getting yanked out. Of course, his suggested remedy was ice cream, so after dinner he got his second heaping bowl of vanilla for the day. This stew was so yummy, though, I don’t care if he eats all the ice cream and leaves all the leftovers to me! Unless……..barley and vanilla ice cream? Hmmmm……..better not.

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