Millet: It’s Easier to Say Than Quinoa

(The Washington Post) -

Whole grains have been a hot nutritional topic in the past few years. Much airtime has been devoted to white or refined grains vs. the more nutritionally sound whole variety. The Whole Grain Council stamp of approval identifies food items up and down the grocery aisles. And more and more people have even learned how to pronounce quinoa (KEEN-wah).

Although quinoa has asserted its position as the top choice of whole grains, there is another grain that deserves a chance in the spotlight: millet. It seems like most Americans either haven’t heard of millet or associate it with birdseed. (Technically, it is a seed, though it is usually categorized as a grain because it is cooked and eaten like one.) Millet feeds a third of the world’s population. Come on, America: Catch on.

Millet is gluten-free, non-acid-forming and non-allergenic, so it’s a fantastic option for people following a gluten-free diet or wrestling with digestive issues. It also contains the following nutrients:

  • protein (tissue-building)
  • iron (blood-building)
  • B vitamins (energy-providing)
  • magnesium (heart-healthy)
  • phosphorus (bone- and teeth-strengthening)
  • insoluble fiber (aiding in digestion and the absorption of nutrients)

But even more important, millet tastes good, with a mildly sweet flavor very similar to that of corn or grits. It is also an incredibly versatile food.

  • Make morning millet porridge with almond milk, cinnamon and peaches.
  • Add the cooked whole grain to soup in lieu of rice or barley.
  • If your kids like macaroni and cheese, replace the less healthful pasta with millet. Just add butter and grated Parmesan.
  • Pop it in a skillet (like corn kernels) to make a healthful snack.
  • Use millet flour in bread and muffin recipes (start by replacing a quarter of the flour and increase the proportion if you like the flavor and consistency).
  • Toss with olive oil and salt, or add your favorite vegetables, nuts and dried fruit to make a millet salad.
  • Replace couscous with this wheat-free alternative.
  • Instead of grits, whip up creamy millet.

Casey Seidenberg is co-founder of Nourish Schools, a Washington, D.C.-based nutrition education company.