Millet is not a well-loved grain, but it should be! Not only is this tiny seed nutritious and versatile in the kitchen, it's much more affordable than it's seedy cousin, quinoa.
If you've not yet heard of millet, let's start with the basics. Millet is a small, yellow pseudo-grain that looks similar to quinoa, and will likely be found in your health food store in the same section as other whole grains (find it in the bulk section for the most economical option!). Like amaranth and buckwheat, millet is considered an ‘ancient grain,’ one of the many grains grown for thousands of years. This little super seed is even mentioned in the Bible! Though it is not terribly common in the United States, millet is a common grain in North Africa and China, where it is a staple grain.
But why eat millet? Millet is high in insoluble fiber, manganese, tryptophan, magnesium and phosphorus– nutrients that are helpful in preventing many lifestyle diseases including diabetes and heart disease. And as an extra bonus, according to World’s Healthiest Foods, “Millet [is] a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including enzymes involved in the body's use of glucose and insulin secretion."
But aside from all that good stuff, millet is simple and easy to enjoy. But it must be said, it's not so tasty plain! Millet needs a little love to make it, well, loveable! Here are some of my favorite tips for cooking with millet, and one of favorite recipes for Millet 'Fried Rice.' This easy recipe features all the flavors of traditional fried rice, but uses our newest whole grain and heaps of veggies for a wholesome meal or side dish. This recipe was originally featured on Vibrant Wellness Journal.
How to use Millet:
- Basic preparation is 2 cups water/broth to 1 cup millet. Bring water to a boil, add a pinch of salt, add millet. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove cover and let stand 10-15 minutes before eating.
- Cook with quinoa to change it up! Use 2 cups water/broth and 1/2 cup quinoa and millet.
- Add cooked or dried millet into muffins and breads for an interesting whole-grain boost.
- Toss cooled (or leftover) millet into greens to make a whole-grain salad.
- Try millet instead of other grains for a whole-grain pilaf.
- Millet flour is also available for gluten-free baking
Millet 'Fried Rice'
1 cup millet
2 cups vegetable broth or water
2 Tablespoons high-heat oil (peanut, safflower, etc.)
¼ cup sliced red onion
½ cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup shredded or diced carrots
3 cups finely sliced green cabbage
¼ cup sliced green onion
1 Tablespoon mirin (Japanese rice cooking wine)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
Sesame seeds for garnish
- In a saucepan, bring broth/water to a boil. Add millet, stir, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until soft. Remove from heat and let cool.
- In a large skillet heat 2 Tablespoons oil over medium high heat. Add onions, mushrooms, and carrots and sauté until wilted. Add cabbage and cook until very soft, about five minutes.
- Stir in green onions and millet and sauté over high heat until millet browns slightly. Drizzle mirin, soy sauce, and sesame oil onto mixture and cook until liquid is absorbed, adding more liquid if you like. Garnish with sesame seeds.
- Remove from heat and serve. Enjoy!
Yield: 3-4 servings