Millet is Not Just for the Birds: It is Good for You Too

Millet is Not Just for the Birds:  It is Good for You Too
Millet in my hand

Bird food?

Are you afraid of trying different foods? I was afraid and non-adventurous, but not anymore.

Each time I venture to the Dekalb Farmers Market: A World International Market, I make it a habit of purchasing something that I have never tried.

Trying new food is fun. It is not only fun, but the nutritional benefits from these new foods are quite amazing.

I never knew that so many highly nutritional foods were out here. Why take tons of vitamins, when you can get all you need from your food?

I am not telling you to not take vitamins, but what I am saying is that it is better to get the bulk of your nutrients from the foods you eat.

Have you heard of millet? Well, millet is a new grain I tried and I must say it is quite tasty. I had millet in my cupboard for a while; I was reluctant to try it, because I did not know how to prepare it. But thanks to a good vegetarian cookbook, I was able to prepare one tasty breakfast cereal.

What is Millet?

Millet is a small seed that is a cereal crop. It is widely grown around the world for food and for animal feed. If you have ever fed birds, then you have seen millet in the bird seed mixture.

It probably never occurred to you that the seeds you were giving to the birds could actually be food for you too. The next time you feed birds, take a long look at the seeds and you will notice that millet makes up a high percentage of the seed mixture.

Millet is actually a seed, but classified as a grain for culinary purposes. Millet is an ancient grain;  feeding more than one-third of the world’s population.

Millet is an American super grain and is also a very important cereal crop.

Millet is small and its color varies. You can find millet that is white, yellow, gray and red. Cooks up quite nicely and has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor.

History of Millet

Millet originated in North Africa, specifically in Ethiopia.  Eaten since prehistoric times. It is also mentioned in the Bible.

Millet is still an important staple in Africa and used in flatbread. Ground millet is used in India in flatbread preparation too. Before the introduction of potatoes and corn in the Middle Ages, millet was a staple in Europe especially in Eastern European countries.

Today, India, Nigeria and China are the top producers of millet.

Benefits of Millet

  • High in Magnesium. One cup of cooked millet provides 26.4% daily value of magnesium
  • Rich in iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, B vitamins
  • 15% protein – complete protein when eaten with legumes
  • Good source of fiber
  • Cooks fast
  • Least allergenic
  • Gluten-free
  • Only grain that is non-acid forming
  • Soothing
  • East to digest
  • Warming (good to eat in the winter)

Note: Those of you who are sensitive to oxalates, millet has small amounts of oxalates.

Where to Find Millet

  • Check your local grocery store first and if your local grocer does not carry millet, then you may ask for it.
  • Health food stores
  • Some Farmers Markets
  • Order online

How to Use Millet

  • Sweetened cereal
  • Stews
  • Casseroles
  • Stuffing for vegetables*
  • Patties
  • Pilafs

*Substitute for rice when using stuffing for vegetables.

Recipe

Here is a quick and easy breakfast cereal that you can try. I tried it and I must say, it was very delicious.

Note: If you prepare this cereal for yourself and one other person, I recommend that you half this recipe.

Millet Cereal

1 cup dry millet

1 cup dry or fresh apple

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

4 cups of water

1 teaspoon salt

Directions: Add all ingredients to a 2 or 3 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and simmer for 30-20 minutes.

You can spruce it up by adding a little cinnamon and a few nuts (walnuts, pecans, etc) of your choice.

Recipe from Times of Refreshing Vegetarian Cookbook.

Have you every tried millet?  If yes, how did you have it? International readers, I know you have tried this, please share with us how you use millet in your country.

Information Sources:

WHFoods
Wikipedia

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About the Author

Evelyn Parham started this site in 2010. She enjoys writing, reading, and dabbling in photography and video editing. Learn more about her here.

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  1. Michael says:

    Hi Evelyn,
    very informative post. I just bought millet for the first time as recently as late last spring to have in the house. Another tip is that you can actually toast it for a bit in the pan w/out any water to bring out some extra flavors (just for 20-30 seconds on low).
    It’s pretty good and obviously has great health benefits, though not as good-tasting as quinoa in my opinion.
    thanks!
    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      Hmmm, I didn’t know that about toasting millet. It should bring out the nutty flavor even more.

      I prefer quinoa over millet too. I haven’t had millet too much, but I do have some in the cupboard.

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. Anne Sales says:

    Evelyn,

    I’ve never heard of it, sounds very interesting. Great nutritional value from the look of it.
    Will try to get hold of it.
    Thanks for the info.

  3. Tai says:

    Thanks for this post. I had heard of this grain before but was never really interested in trying it out until now. Thanks for expanding my food repertoire!

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