This month, I am focusing on many of my favorite whole grains, offering tips and ideas about how you might enjoy adding them to your own menu plan. This week’s motto: More millet! A marvelous, mild yellow grain guaranteed to please people, not just birds!
I’m just mad about millet. It’s my favorite mellow yellow, yummy way to start my day: cooked up hot with sliced bananas, chopped walnuts and a dab of organic butter. But for many Americans, millet is bird food! Not so around the world. It grows wild in Africa and all across Asia. In China, it has a long history of use as a sacred grain, and in India, millet has been around for thousands for years and is often made into “Roti,” a flat, thin bread. In Eastern Europe, millet has been used to make porridge for eons, and it’s been traditionally fermented and made into a healthful beverage. Its delicious, delicate flavor and aroma make it perfect for side dishes, stuffing, burgers, casseroles, breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert!
Don’t let millet’s mini size fool you! This mild slightly sweet, nutritious little grain is easy to cook and easy to digest. When you add millet to your diet, you get these great benefits:
- B-Complex vitamins that include niacin and thiamin
- Important minerals such as magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, copper and zinc.
Just one cup of cooked millet provides approximately 210 calories, 6 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of fat, 0 cholesterol and barely any saturated fat.
When cooking millet, a good guide is: 1 part millet to 3 parts liquid (such as water, broth or milk). Simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the liquid is completely absorbed. Remove from heat; keep it covered and let it continue to steam for about 10 more minutes. Then fluff it up with a fork and serve hot. For a fluffier texture, use a little less liquid; for a dense, moist texture, use a little extra. For a toasty, nutty flavor, and to keep the grains light and dry, toast the millet in a dry skillet over medium to medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes before cooking.
Are you ready to make some mellow-yellow millet? Here’s the place to start:
- Cook it as described above and turn it into hot breakfast cereal. Great with berries, bananas, apples, pears and peaches! Try this recipe for Millet Breakfast Cereal with Mandarin Oranges and Dates.
- Make millet pilaf. Use vegetable or chicken broth for your liquid and add diced carrots, celery, onion and parsley. Season to taste and serve garnished with chopped nuts.
- Make millet salad with diced peppers, radish, carrots, celery, cucumbers, etc.; add your favorite salad dressing. Here’s a great recipe for Warm Millet Salad with Brussels Sprouts, Creamed Mushrooms and Sage.
- Add a handful of millet to soup; simmer until done.
- Make millet stew with vegetables, or cook with chicken, beef or tofu. Here’s an idea for a Chicken-Millet and Mushroom One-Skillet Meal.
- Substitute millet in many recipes that call for rice. Millet and beans is just as delicious as beans and rice! This Millet Garden Medley is simple and delicious.
- Add millet to bread when baking; this is a crunchy, delicious way to enjoy whole grain bread!
- Look for millet bread in the freezer at Whole Foods Market.
- Replace pasta with cooked millet. Top with marinara sauce, meat sauce, or olive oil, garlic and parmesan cheese.
- Add it to stuffing – great in acorn squash!
- Make millet burgers – shape leftover millet pilaf into patties. Dust with flour or a little fine cornmeal; cook in a little olive or sesame oil until browned on both sides.
- For great nutrition, sprout some millet! Add to salads or sandwiches.
- Make millet “mashed potatoes” – cook millet to tender and mash with extra broth or milk and seasonings.
- Add one or two tablespoons of toasted, dry millet to muffins, quick breads and scones for a healthy crunch factor. Here’s a good start with Pumpkin and Millet Muffins.
- Use up to 1/3 millet flour for some of the wheat flour normally called for in muffins, quick breads, pie crusts, and cookies. Here’s a recipe for Gluten Free Carrot Date Muffins.
Remember that just like quinoa, buckwheat and rice, millet is a gluten-free grain and can be enjoyed by people allergic or sensitive to both wheat and gluten.
Are you “just mad about millet”? Let me hear about it!