Millet: It’s Not Just for the Birds

Q: What is millet?

A: If you are a bird owner or bird lover, you’re certainly aware of millet. It’s the main ingredient in most bird seeds. This little grain is not just for the birds, though. Evidence of millet being used in human diets dates all the way back to 3500 BC in China. Today, it’s most commonly grown in Southeast Asia, India and Africa, as it thrives even in stressed conditions such as droughts and infertile soil. Millet continues to be a staple in diets around the world, but has not yet made its way into the everyday American diet. Millet is incredibly nutritious, and has a light fluffy texture and delicious nutty flavor, similar to quinoa. It’s also vegan friendly and gluten free!

Millet: A Healthier Grain

Q: What are the health benefits of millet?

Low in fat but high in protein, fiber, essential amino acids and iron, millet is an excellent addition to any diet. Millet is highly alkaline and can help promote a healthy pH level within the body. Millet is a great source of the amino acid tryptophan, which can help to increase serotonin production within the body. The complex carbs in millet can also lead to increased serotonin production as well as sustained energy to get you through your busy week. More than that, increased serotonin production may also help to improve mood, reduce hunger cravings (especially when paired with millet’s fiber content!) and provide better sleep.

Millet’s high complex carbohydrate, fiber and protein content, paired with its low-calorie and low-fat profile, make it an excellent choice for breakfast, lunch or even a snack to hold you over between meals.

Q: How do I prepare millet?

A: Whole millet can be prepared in a variety of ways, and is most often eaten at breakfast time, since it’s so filling and acts as a great source of energy to start your day. Puffed millet cereal is also available for those of us who need something quick and easy in the mornings. Millet flour is also very popular (especially among gluten-free followers) and can be used to replace flour in bread, muffin, pancake and waffles recipes.  Look below for some quick and easy ways to prepare your millet.

Basic Millet Preparation:

1 cup millet
2 1/2 cups water

  1. Bring water to a boil.

    Millet Breakfast Porridge with Fruit

    Mix in antioxidant-rich fruits, like dried blueberries for a hint of sweetness and a pop of color.

  2. Add millet and let simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes, until all water has been absorbed.
  3. Let millet cool.
  4. Top with your favorite fruits, nuts or seeds.

Millet Porridge:

1/4 cup millet
1 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 Tbsp. raw honey
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

  1. Bring water to a boil.
  2. Add millet and let simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes, until all water has been absorbed.
  3. Let porridge cool slightly before mixing in cinnamon and honey.
  4. Top with fruits, nuts or seeds of your liking.

Vitacost Product Experts

Health & wellness Q & A from Vitacost.com's product experts Matt Albretsen and Ryan Halvorsen. Submit your question at productinfo@vitacost.com

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Health & wellness Q & A from Vitacost.com's product experts Matt Albretsen and Ryan Halvorsen. Submit your question at productinfo@vitacost.com

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