The typical Western diet is predominantly based around a few staple foods – wheat, corn, rice and soy. These foods not only make up a few tell-tale products such as bread, pasta, and crackers, but they also creep into less obvious foodstuffs. Avoiding these ‘staple’ foods may be beneficial to health, particularly if they are heavily sprayed during cultivation, processed, or not prepared as per the traditional way (fermented, sprouted or soaked).
A few weeks ago we celebrated quinoa (if you want to find out how to cook the perfect quinoa, we suggest you click now), the ancient South American seed with an impressive nutritional CV. The beauty about quinoa is it can easily be used as an alternative to the ‘staple’ grains.
And today we are back with another seed, Millet! And it’s just as impressive.
Now, you may recognise millet as one of the components of birdseed. But don’t be too quick to judge it. Millet is a much underestimated seed that is jam packed full of important nutrients, is absolutely delicious and boasts a bucket load of benefits.
How do I Prepare and Cook Millet?
Millet looks, both raw and when cooked, similar to cous cous, a common dish made from wheat.
- It is recommended to soak grains overnight in an acidic medium to remove the presence of phytates (which our body cannot break down); however, as millet contains low amounts of phytates, it is not as imperative.
- To soak, measure out the required amount of millet into a bowl, cover with water, and stir 1 tablespoon of either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar into the mix.
- Cover the bowl and leave on the bench (not in the fridge) overnight or for at least 8 hours. Drain the water, rinse and spread out on a tray to dry. If you wish, at this step the soaked millet could be stored in a sieve on the bench for another 24hours.
- Over those 24 hours the millet should be rinsed with water 2 or 3 times, but you will notice that the seed will start to sprout. Sprouting a grain or seed has many benefits, including the fact that it is easier digested and tolerated by the body as it’s DNA has been awoken and it is now ‘alive’ or ‘activated’. Once a grain or seed is sprouted it does not need to be cooked.
- Cook millet by first toasting it with your choice of fat or oil in a pot on medium heat. Stir frequently. Once it starts to smell fragrant, add 3x amount of liquid as millet (i.e. 3 cups stock to 1 cup millet) and cook (lid on) until all the liquid has absorbed and the millet is tender.
- Place a tea towel over the pot, place the lid back on, and allow the tea towel to absorb the steam from the millet for about 5 minutes. Fluff the millet with a fork.
- For those of you who have thyroid problems and/or are avoiding the excess consumption of goitrogens, I would suggest to avoid millet and eat other pseudo-grains such as quinoa or buckwheat.
- Pearl millet is the most common variety of millet sold for human consumption, however, there are other varieties including finger, proso and foxtail.
- Millet flour is also available, and can add a beautiful nutty flavour to home baking.