“Eat more whole grains” is on nearly every nutritional guidelines out there, despite the big anti-grain movements sweeping the nation the past few years. As Paleo and other meat/vegetable based diets have become more popular, grains have been cast aside as brain fog, gut clogging culprits. However, grains have been a part of the human diet for tens of thousands of years. In fact, it is noted as early as 2800BC, corn, rice, soybeans, barley , wheat and millet were listed as the five sacred crops of China. and offer many benefits to our bodies, including energy lifting B vitamins, fiber and some protein. So I don’t think grains should be avoided completely. In fact, I don’t think I could because they are so tasty, versatile and a great complement to many meals. It is time to rethink grains and use them in different ways than just as a side dish.
One of my favorite whole grains is often unheard of in traditional cooking, but a great delicacy for birds – millet. Millet is frequently noted in the New Testament, the most famous reference in Ezekiel 4:9, which now gives us the popular Ezekiel bread you can find in stores. Millet was the dominant crop of the Roman Empire before being replaced by wheat. According to Chinese Medicine, millet is good for the stomach and spleen-pancreas and for healing GI issues. It helps to regulate blood sugar imbalances and was used in Europe as a remedy for relieving some arthritic pains (source: Rebecca Wood, The Whole Foods Encyclopedia). Millet is rich in B vitamins, iron, amino-acids and phosphorus. And for my fellow gluten free eaters, this grain is for you!
The only drawback to millet, is it can be quite bland unless flavor is added. Personally, I have always thought of millet more as a breakfast grain. It has a fabulous texture for porridge. While it is a delicious addition to vegetarian chili (adding a “meatiness”), or soups, its inherent sweetness comes alive in breakfast applications like my Berry Parfait. My kids love yogurt parfaits, but whenever they get stuffy noses or colds I take them off dairy immediately to ease the body’s burden. So one morning I thought, why not make a parfait with millet porridge?
It was a hit. At first they were hesitant, but I think the sweet nature of the millet charmed them (also the added bit of cinnamon, honey, and some of my homemade granola – Click to get that recipe!).
To make the millet porridge, simply combine 1 cup of millet with 2 cups of water, a cinnamon stick and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low until all the water is absorbed. Let the millet cool, then fluff with a fork. You can then add in some almond milk and cook further to make it creamier. One cup of millet makes a good amount, so you will definitely have leftovers for another day. Simply reheat with your favorite vegan milk.
To make the parfait, layer millet, berries, granola and repeat. Then serve with a smile. 😉