Cultivated in central Asia and West Africa for thousands of years, millet is a small-seeded cereal in the Poaceae family, the largest grass family, which gains its name from the Greek poa, or grass. This family includes all grasses grown for their edible seeds, such as rice, wheat, rye, oats and corn.
Although many of these cereals have become annual crops, researchers like Wes Jackson of the Kansas-based Land Institute are working to develop an agricultural system of perennial cereal grasses “with a yield similar to that from annual crops” (landinstitute.org).
Millet is a nutrient dense, hypo-allergenic, complex carbohydrate; offers a balance of B vitamins and magnesium to support digestion and balance blood sugar. It is useful in countering the mucus-forming effects of bread/cereal.
Some nutritional philosophies, such as Chinese Five Element Theory, tout it as ‘the queen of grains’. Indeed, millet is light, bright, and easy to digest. Incorporate this grain in your summer dishes to dispel heat and rejuvenate the digestive system. (Millet Plant Photo Credit)
Try these recipes for creative inspiration!
Thanks to Rebecca Wood for this recipe inspiration! (waffles photo credit)
In a blender, soak 1 cup millet and 3 cups water overnight.
Be sure to cover the blender with a kitchen towel.
When you wake up, drain off any excess water.
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 Tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Blend well, pour into waffle-maker or into skillet if making pancakes, and enjoy!
Polenta is the Italian word for cornmeal porridge that, when stirred vigorously as it cooks, becomes creamy and sets once it cools. This recipe substitutes millet, an alkaline grain that balances the intestinal pH and is touted as diabetic-friendly because its abundance of B vitamins slows sugar absorption.
To prepare this dish, you will need millet, water, and salt.
>>Stir in butter or vegetable oil (3 Tablespoons per cup of dry millet) as the dish cooks;
>>Sprinkle in coriander and thyme for a rich, subtle flavor: 1 teaspoon each per cup of dry millet. (polenta photo credit)
This recipe serves 2 people and keeps in the refrigerator for 5 days.
Place ½ cup dry millet in a medium stock pot with 2 cups water.
Simmer, uncovered, until millet begins to thicken (about 20 minutes). Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Add 1 teaspoon salt.
Stir occasionally and vigorously. Cooking can build arm strength! Use your muscles.
At this point, add butter, oil, and spices if you like.
If millet bubbles and splatters on the stovetop, cover it and cock the lid slightly so that steam can escape.
Pour thick millet into an 8×8 glass container or pie plate. Allow it to cool for about 15 minutes.
Slice and serve toasted, grilled, or as is. You can add toppings such as: fresh tomatoes and cheese; pesto; grilled zucchini; artichoke spread; avocados & hummus; caramelized onions & swiss chard; kimchi. (millet photo credit)
*If you would like to soak millet to release its phytic acid and thus increase its digestibility:
Pour ½ cup millet into a quart mason jar;
Fill the jar with warm water;
Cover jar with cheesecloth or a napkin;
Let it sit in a warm place for anywhere from 2 to 8 hours;
Pour jar contents though a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water before cooking;
Proceed with the directions above.