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Millet: Not Just for Birds

Posted Nov 20 2009 10:02pm
"Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the 390 days you lie on your side." Ezekiel 4:9 - NIV

Here’s another pseudo-grain you can add to your list of super foods. It’s one of the oldest grains that has existed for thousands of years and was even mentioned in the Bible as the prophet’s bread. Oh millet, where have you been all my life?

This mustard seed-like grain is high in protein (higher than brown rice) and low in starch and they are perfect for the digestive system including the stomach and pancreas particularly the spleen organ, which is our energy battery. Millet is the only alkaline grain which counteracts acidity in the body. Just like quinoa, millet is great in cleansing the body while providing easy assimilated minerals that most people lack.

Millet is also high in silicon which benefits your hair, skin, nails, teeth and eye health. It’s absolutely a beauty grain. And if you’re suffering from arthritis and osteoporosis, it means that you’re body is highly acidic. Millet is high in alkaline minerals potassium and magnesium which supports the health of your bones, joints and ligaments. The magnesium content also eases menstrual discomfort and headaches, lowers high blood pressure and may even prevent gallstones in women.

Since millet has anti-fungal properties, it is the best grain to use for Candida albicans overgrowth. When you’re suffering from Candida, you need to avoid foods that are high in sugars and millet is low in starch (hence sugar), which is just perfect. Another thing that millet is good for is balancing blood glucose for diabetics and is excellent for the immune system as millet is the least allergenic of the grains.

There’s also a concern about millet and goitrogen. Goitrogen is a substance that prevents iodine to be absorbed in the body and is thus avoided with people who have thyroid problems. This problem only occurs if you eat huge quantity of millet and other foods that contain goitrogen. Although cooking them removes some of it, most doctors would advice patients to avoid foods high in goitrogen. In my opinion, eating a variety of whole foods will ensure that you’re getting the right nutrients (and that includes iodine). So there is no need to worry about eating them; just don’t eat them in industrial amounts. You can also soak the millet overnight. However, if you have a serious case of any particular thyroid disease, please proceed with caution and always consult your doctor.

Cooking millet is like cooking other types of grains. I like to toast them first in a little bit of oil with chopped garlic or shallots before adding the hot water or stock and then simmer until they’re cook.

Honestly, I still like quinoa more than millet but millet is cheaper than quinoa, which means I would need to appreciate millet more. I think I will.

Just in case you're wondering, the black specks are the black cardamom. :)

Basic Millet

Makes about 4-5 cups

2 -3 cups water, chicken or vegetable stock (please see note)
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp extra light olive oil or unsalted butter
1 cup whole millet

Optional Spices:
½ tsp unrefined sea salt
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp Thai saffron
2 black cardamom pods (removed from its shell)

Bring the stock or water to a simmer. Then peel and finely chop the garlic.

Place a heavy-bottomed pot or large pan with a lid over medium high heat. Add the oil/butter and millet and toast, stirring constantly until the millet starts to pop and jump around. Then add the chop garlic until fragrant. Be sure the millet doesn’t burn. If it does, simple remove the pot and lower the heat slightly, stirring constantly to cool.

Then slowly add the stock or water, salt and the optional spice. Bring to boil and reduce the heat immediately. Simmer until all the liquids have been absorbed, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the heat and place a tea towel under the lid to absorb any steam for about 5 minutes. Fluff immediately with a fork and serve as a side dish.


Gluten-Free; Vegan (if vegetable stock is used)

The amount of water per cup of millet:
2 cups for water - slightly crunchy;

2-1/4 to 2-1/2 water - light and fluffy

3 cups water – soft and almost mushy

If you chose not to toast your millet, rinse them in water and drain. It’s quite possible if you don’t do either of the two, the outside of the grain will turn to mush before the insides are cook enough to lose their crunch.

When the millet is hot, the grains are quite sticky but when they have cooled down, they will separate.

You can also soak the millet for a few hours before cooking or sprouting if you’re worried about the phytic acid (a phytonutrient) and phytates (the salt of phytic acid). But sometimes both of them are beneficial. They are neither good nor bad. It depends on when you have them. If you consume them as part of your meal, their effect is negative by removing key nutrients from the meal that you’re consuming. But if you have it as a supplement, separate from the meal, they are quite beneficial working as an antioxidant in the colon without sacrificing the nutrients in the foods you eat. Also, their phytic acid mineral binding properties are helpful in removing excess minerals such as iron (too much can increase the risk of heart disease and colon cancer) from our body and even a small phytic acid can help reduce harmful iron absorption by half.

Health Blogger Award

A few days ago, I entered the 2nd Annual People's Health Blogger Awards for Wellsphere.The voting will end on December 15, 2009. Well, an award is an award but I joined because this is also my way of promoting the work that I do on my blog. The winners will be announced for the following categories: Best Overall; Blogger’s Choice and Best 100. I actually joined a little bit late but with your help, you can still vote for me by clicking on the Help me win badge at the upper right corner (on top of my profile) or on top of the paragraph. I have 19 votes and still needing about 170 (approximately). You may have to sign up but your vote will make a difference in other people’s lives through me. For those who have already voted for me along with your wonderful comments, thank you.

So, have you tried millet? If yes, please let me what dishes you’ve done with it on the comment box. I would love to try it soon and please remember to vote. :D

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