Why should you be eating millet?
Most people think of bird food when they think of millet.
It’s time to change that image of this wonderful gluten-free grain!
Feeding more than one third of the world’s population, millet is a staple grain in Africa, India and Asia.
Before the introduction of potatoes and corn millet was also a staple grain in Europe, specifically Eastern Europe.
Personally, I think we should be using more millet and consider reducing our intake of quinoa.
• The United States produces quite a bit of millet so the shipping of it doesn’t require the “food miles” that quinoa requires since quinoa is shipped from South America.
• Millet requires low moisture which is of great benefit in these times of water scarcity in many areas.
• Millet has a short growing season and tolerates a hot climate.
• While millet is happy to grown in areas of drought and infertile soils it will thrive in areas with more fertile soils and more moisture.
These qualities make millet a valuable food in conditions where other grain crops would fail.
When it comes to nutritional value millet has plenty to offer. It is easy to digest and is gluten-free. What could be better?
Nutritionally millet is high in alkaline minerals and counteracts acids. Its protein levels are comparable to wheat and higher than corn. Millet has more essential amino acids than rice, barley, wheat oats and rye.
Some important nutrients in millet are: iron, calcium, zinc, potassium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Other beneficial nutrients include: high amounts of fiber, B-complex vitamins including niacin, folacin, thiamin and riboflavin. Millet also contains essential amino acids that include methionine, lecithin and some vitamin E
If you would like more detailed information about the health benefits of millet check out this page on The Worlds Healthiest Foods website: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=53
Millet is a wonderful gluten-free grain that, when you know how to cook it, should be a delicious addition to almost everyone’s repertoire.
Millet is a mild, slightly nutty flavored grain. It can be cooked to be creamy as in a breakfast porridge or mashed side dish or pilaf style.
Soak the grain
As with all grains, my preference is to soak the millet in four times the amount of water for a minimum of 3 hours up to overnight. Soaking grains makes them more delicious and easier to digest. The longer they soak the shorter the cooking time. Note that you will also need to adjust the amount of cooking liquid used depending on how long you soak the millet. The recipes that follow are for millet that has soaked for 3 to 4 hours.
How to cook millet
Millet can pose a bit of difficulty when cooked pilaf style as some of the grains will tend to cook before others. Getting the water level just right is important. Too much water and you will have half mushy grains and some cooked just right and maybe some uncooked. Too little water and you’ll think you are eating bird food! The technique I’ve come up with helps to resolve that problem.
Basic pilaf style millet
1 cup millet – soaked for 3 to 4 hours in 4 cups water
2 cups either: Imagine brand No-Chicken Stock, vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
I prefer Imagine brand No-Chicken Stock for many dishes since it doesn’t contain tomatoes.
There are many dishes where I don’t want to have a tomato flavor – and this is one of them (unless of course I’m adding tomatoes to the dish!)
¼ to ½ teaspoon sea salt
Drain the soaked millet in a fine mesh strainer.
Place several clean kitchen towels on a cookie sheet, put the millet on the towels, place another towel on top and rub gently to remove some of the moisture.
Put the stock or water along with a small amount of sea salt into a small pot and heat till simmering, covered, on a medium heat.
While the cooking liquid is coming to a simmer dry roast the millet in an 8-inch skillet.
To dry roast:
Heat the pan first, then put the millet in. Toast the millet, stirring regularly, until it changes color slightly.
When the millet is hot and the color has changed turn the heat to low. Add the hot liquid. Be careful when you do this since the liquid will suddenly boil up in the pan. Stir gently. Put the lid on the pan and cook for 20 minutes or so, until the millet has cooked.
An important tip: do not stir the millet while cooking. This will make it quite gummy!!!!!
Now your millet is ready to add some nicely sautéed veggies to.
I really like some caramelized onions with a bit of mushrooms tossed into the millet once it’s cooked.
Variations on this theme:
Add fresh or dried herbs to the simmering stock, which will add more flavor to the millet.
Add a bit of richness by toasting the millet in coconut oil, olive oil or ghee. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons oil of your choice.
Spice it up! Put 1 to 2 tablespoons oil of your choice in the skillet and before you add the millet lightly toast your choice of spice such as cumin, cardamom, fennel and/or coriander. Then add the millet and continue to toast as described in the recipe. Make sure not to over toast the spices.
This is a great dish to add a bit of turmeric to. Put ½ teaspoon powdered turmeric into the simmering stock. Turmeric is so good for you and the added yellow color works well in this dish.
Here’s another nice article about millet: http://www.harvestpublicmedia.org/article/millet-next-trendy-grain
Enjoy your millet!