By: Suzanne Brett, RHN – Victoria, BC
In the cool month of January, we’re all ready to wind down after the holiday hustle and we’re in need of warming nourishing foods. It’s that time when we tend to begin thinking about our health and energy levels after all those holiday meals and sweets. Potatoes and other starchy foods might not be what we’re craving this time of year, but healthy whole grains are a great energy source and are one of those foods that are available to nourish us during the winter months. So, without further ado, let me introduce millet as a restorative and healthy alternative to many other grains and starchy vegetables.
Millet is usually a small, pale-yellow, ancient grain that looks similar to couscous or corn and is somewhere in between in size. Although there are other varieties that are less common and are a more reddish-brown or black in colour. This grain’s origin is primarily Africa where they harvest it, grind it into flour and make that delicious roti flat bread that helps us shovel yummy spicy curries into our mouths. Mmmmm…
Millet is a great gluten-free alternative, it’s generally not a reactive food as it contains few oxalates and it contains many health promoting properties. Millet is one of the few grains that is considered alkaline forming, meaning its PH level after digestion has a more alkaline effect on the body than acidic, as opposed to many other grains that show up on the acidic side of the chart.
Like many other grains, Millet is a great source of lignans. Lignans are also found in berries, nuts, seeds, teas and many whole grains. Lignans are known to be protective against hormone-related cancers, and heart disease.
This brilliant grain holds a significant amount of Magnesium, which is proven to be quite effective in regulating blood pressure and insulin/glucose levels for those with Type 2 diabetes. Magnesium is also a co-factor in regulating metabolism and, along with the great amounts of copper in Millet, it helps create healthy cellular function, thus providing us with a lively energy that keeps our fires aflame for 2015! Copper is also an anti-oxidant which can prove to be most useful this time of year when we need to begin thinking about detoxifying all those harmful holiday chemicals.
Millet is as easy to cook as any other grain. It needs 2 cups of water to 1 cup of grains, just like rice or quinoa. If you prefer to use it as a porridge in the morning, you could add 2 cups of fruit juice as well as the 2 cups of water to get a sweeter and more porridge-like consistency. Millet takes about 20-30 minutes to cook.
My favorite way of eating millet is to toast it in a dry pan on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until it begins to become golden and THEN transferring it into a pot or grain cooker with 1 cup water and 1 cup bone broth. This fashion makes the grain taste a bit more nutty and toasty and adds more minerals and restorative nutrients from the broth for that winter comforting feeling. I usually serve it with fried tempeh and steamed greens, drizzled with a tad of tamari, sesame oil and a few pumpkin seeds. Very simple, quick and satiating.
I hope you enjoy your new-found love of Millet and kick your New Year off with an excellent start by making great healthy food choices and visiting us at the Educated Eater often for many more health and lifestyle tips.