The whole truth about Millet…
This month the guys and girls in La Crisalida kitchen take a look at a wholegrain called millet. We use millet regularly here at La Crisalida, so in this article we describe what millet is, the health benefits and you will also find our recipe for millet burgers on our blog site.
What is millet?
Technically, millet is not just one grain, but a group of seed-grains. It is believed that millet has been eaten by humans for thousands of years. Millet is classed as a wholegrain, which means it contains all of the essential parts of a grain (bran [outer layer], endosperm and germ [inner]) and, if it has been processed in some way, all of the nutrients are present in the same proportions as the original grain. It has a slightly nutty flavour, is often pale yellow in colour and the size is similar (a little smaller) than quinoa.
Why use millet?
There are many reasons to include millet in your diet on a regular basis:
• It’s gluten free
• It’s easy to cook with!
• It’s versatile
• It has an alkaline producing effect on the body (one of the few grains that do so) (Read more about the need for alkaline food here)
• It’s low in fat
• It’s a good source of protein and insoluble fibre
What can it replace?
You can use millet instead of rice or couscous. It can be added to soups or stews to make a great warming and satisfying snack or dinner. You can even use it for breakfast porridge, replacing oats as a great gluten-free alternative.
Nutritional and Health benefits
Millet is a nutritionally rich food which means it is great for adding into our diet on a regular basis, and has many positive effects on the body:
• Good source of carbohydrates – essential for giving energy to the body. Remember, even when dieting, some carbohydrates are needed as they can only be stored in small amounts in the body.
• High in minerals, particularly iron, magnesium, B1 (thiamine), zinc, phosphorous and niacin (B3)
• Relatively high in protein (albeit slightly lower than quinoa)
• Good for the heart (due to the high mineral content, particularly magnesium, which lowers blood pressure)
• Lower glycaemic index, which means that the grains are absorbed more slowly, so energy is released slowly into the body meaning we feel fuller for longer. This helps with weight loss and ongoing weight management
• Good for cell development and repair, due to the high phosphorous content
• High in insoluble fibre, which helps our digestive tract remain healthy, preventing gallstones and ensuring regular bowel movements
• High fibre wholegrains like millet also help to prevent against cancers
• High in phytonutrients (like lignans and phenolics – natural chemicals that protect the body against bugs, germs and funghi) – giving our bodies a boost and promoting good health
• A good source of antioxidants, boosting our immune system and helping remove toxins and waste
Where can I buy it?
You will probably find millet in health food shops on the high street. Organic grain suppliers may be able to deliver to your door – consider buying in bulk with neighbours to make the price even lower. Unfortunately many supermarkets in the UK are still to stock millet, but it does seem to be starting to appear on some shelves! Millet is a much lower priced grain than quinoa, so is better for your pocket!
Serve cold: Millet salad
Cook the millet and leave to go cold. Add in your favourite salad vegetables: try cherry tomatoes, salad onions, radish and cucumber, together with a squeeze of lemon and herbs (basil and mint are tasty to make a really fresh salad). Great on its own or serve with a dip, stuffed peppers or anything you fancy!
TIP: Remember to lightly toast (dry roast) the millet grains first in a pan, before cooking in water, so that the grains stay individual to make your salad light and fluffy.
Serve hot: Herby millet
Cook according to the instructions then, just before serving, stir in your favourite herbs, like parsley and coriander and serve with chickpea and squash tagine, dhal, veggie stir fry or curry.
Serve hot or cold: Millet burgers
Great served with oven roasted courgettes. There is no need to toast the grains first, as you want them to stick together more to make the burgers. Click here for full millet burger recipe.