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)
- 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.