Why should I eat millet?

November 27, 2019 6:50 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Millet – is it just for birds? Of course not! (Though they do like it, mixed in with other seeds.) Millet is a somewhat-off-the-beaten-track kind of grain, but one that not only works well in a number of everyday recipes, but also brings a new taste and a new way of getting first-class nutrition into your diet.

Millet - just for the birds?

Millet isn’t just one kind of cereal – the name refers to a group of small-seeded grasses, grown as a staple crop in parts of Africa and India for millennia. These grasses adapt well to poor and droughty conditions and the grain thus continues to be consumed in large quantities in about a third of the world. Perhaps it’s not so ‘off the beaten track’ as we might think….

It’s a grain that’s rich in B vitamins, and contains a good amount of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Its major selling point amongst many of our customers, however, is that it’s gluten-free, making it a great addition to a coeliac diet. Indeed, it’s considered by some to be the least allergenic grain there is, making it helpful for those suffering from a range of digestive problems. It’s also significantly less expensive than quinoa, for instance, but can be used in much the same way. For the very cheapest option, we’d recommend buying in bullk.

Millet is technically a seed (and can be treated as such: it’s frequently found in ‘seeded’ bakery products). However, it works just like any other whole grain, such as quinoa, when you cook and work with it. We sell millet grain (organic and non-organic) at Naturally Good Food in mid-bulk and bulk bags of 5kg or 25kg, as well as in small pre-packed bags from Infinity. Note that millet can only be eaten in its unhulled or pearled form, as the grain has an indigestible outer coating in its natural state.

What does it taste like?

Millet fluffs up when you cook it, to give a soft mass. It’s slightly sweet and slightly nutty (and if you toast it before cooking, has a more pronounced nutty flavour). Like so many other wholegrains, however, it’s really a good base, or vehicle, for other ingredients and flavours.

Other forms of millet

Flaked millet, which cooks significantly faster than millet grain, is used around the world to make both sweet and savoury porridges. We sell it in organic form in bulk bags of 5kg or 15kg, in Alara’s luxury porridge mix and in Nature’s Path’s millet and rice flakes breakfast cereal.

Other easy ways to incorporate millet into your diet include in the form of millet and brown rice noodles from King Soba, or in Clearspring’s Quickcook range, where it’s mixed with lentils and peas. Amazake’s no-sugar millet dessert, meanwhile, is sweetened using the natural reaction from the fermentation of this grain.

Do I need to soak it?

You don’t need to soak millet before you cook it. Some recipes do call for it to be soaked for a certain number of hours, but this simply reduces the cooking time.

Lots of good things to do with millet

It’s really easy to incorporate millet into your diet – simply think about dishes where you use other wholegrains and substitute millet for a change. It works very well in porridge, as mentioned above, and as a replacement for rice in savoury dishes. Like grains such as barley or buckwheat, it brings texture to and thickens stews, casseroles and soups.

It’s less usual in the West to come across ‘sweet’ uses for millet, but across the world, these are very popular, with the grain often cooked with sweet potatoes, squashes or sweet beans, apples and honey.

We’ve got five specific recipes below, including one sweet one – enough to get you through a reasonable sized bag of this nutritious grain!

Savoury millet cakes

Ingredients

  • ½ cup millet grain
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • Handful of herbs (chives and parsley work well)
  • Handful of grated cheese (cheddar or parmesan are good choices).
  • Salt, pepper or soy sauce

Method

With a pinch of salt, bring the millet to the boil and then simmer till tender (probably just under half an hour). Drain any excess water, allow to cool, and add the remaining ingredients.  Mix it all together. Mould into thick rounds – if necessary, add some gluten-free flour to make it easier to shape – and sauté in hot oil. Serve with a salad.

 

Basic wholegrain millet porridge

Ingredients

Method

Place the grain and liquid in a saucepan, with a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmering point and cook for about 25 minutes. When it’s soft enough for your taste, add any sweeteners or spices.

Tip: you can make a big batch of millet porridge in advance and reheat it throughout the week.

For a speedier porridge, use millet flakes.

 

Slow-cooker millet and dried fruit porridge

Ingredients

Method

This is not a difficult one! Place all the ingredients in your slow cooker before you go to bed – sleep well, wake and eat.

 

Millet and chickpea salad

This salad makes a great change from the usual options. The addition of chickpeas brings an added crunch.

Ingredients

Method

In a large saucepan, cook the millet grain in the vegetable stock for 20-30 minutes, until tender.

Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork, then allow to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the millet, chickpeas, onion, pepper and olives.

In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar and oil until well combined.

Pour the dressing over the salad and gently stir. The salad can be served straight away or chilled overnight.

 

Blueberry millet snack bars

For this sweet recipe, instructions for which can be found at https://www.blissfulbasil.com/chewy-vegan-blueberry-millet-quinoa-snack-bars/, you’ll need millet grain, but also quinoa, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, brown rice syrup, coconut oil, ground flaxseed and vanilla extract. Could a sweet treat possibly be healthier?!

Click here to see all our millet.

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This post was written by Yzanne

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