Friday, September 17, 2010

Ingredient Spotlight: Millet

In my trial run as a vegetarian, I have gotten fairly comfortable some foods such as quinoa and chickpeas. In fact, they are my go-to vegetarian ingredients (besides vegetables, of course). I wanted to venture out and try something new...millet came to mind.

What is Millet?

Millet is small, round in shape, and can be white, grey, yellow or red. The most common form in stores is the pearled, hulled kind. It is a tasty grain that has a mildly sweet, nut-like flavor which is intensified when the grain is toasted. The protein content is very close to that of wheat; both provide about 11% protein by weight. Millet is rich in B vitamins (especially niacin, B6 and folic acid), calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Millet contains no gluten, so it is appropriate for those with celiac disease or gluten/wheat intolerance.

Health Benefits

Magnesium found in millet lowers type II diabetes risk, may reduce the severity of asthma, reduce the frequency of migraine attacks, has been shown to lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack

Insoluble fiber from millet and other whole grains helps prevent gallstones, protects against certain cancers and provides cardiovascular benefits.

Millet contains phytonutrients and phenolics, which are powerful antioxidants that work in multiple ways to prevent disease.


Like all grains, before cooking millet rinse it thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt or debris. To enhance the nutty flavor, toast the grains first by placing in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently. When they have achieved a golden color, add one part millet to two and a half parts boiling water or broth. After the liquid has returned to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes. The texture of millet cooked this way will be fluffy like rice. If you want the millet to have a more creamy consistency, stir it frequently adding a little water every now and then.


Southwestern Sweet Potato and Millet Salad
(adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)

Makes 4 servings.

2.5 cups cooked millet (1 cup raw)
2 medium (about 1 pound) sweet potatoes
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup minced red onion or shallot
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup toasted pepitas
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro (optional)

1. Cook millet according to preparation instructions above (1 cup millet plus 2.5 cups water).
2. Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes and dice into 1/2 inch pieces. Cook in salted, boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well.
3. Toss together sweet potato, millet, bell pepper and onion; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Whisk the oil, lime juice, red pepper flakes and cumin together in a smalll bowl. Toss the salad with about 1/2 of this mixure; add all or some of the rest to taste. Adjust seasonings, garnish with toasted pepitas and fresh cilantro.

I have been eating this for lunch all week. It is good cold, warm, topped with sliced avocado or wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. I also mixed in some leftover black beans about halfway through the week, and it was a nice addition.

Question: Do you like the "ingredient spotlight" format or is it too much information?



  1. Keep the spotlight coming :) Sounds like a delicious recipe! Funny thing is, I was going through my cabinets saying "I have to figure out something to make with these pepitas I have." Guess what's on the menu one night this week!

  2. I like learning about new foods, so in that respect, I like the spotlight type blog. It feels a tad "clinical", but other than that I think it is very helpful and useful. Keep it coming!

  3. You amaze me everyday with your nutrition mini courses! It's a lot of information but I'm always interested in learning. I wouldn't search out these new foods on my own.