Millet is a great alternative to quinoa: a versatile, tasty, nutritious food like quinoa, but much cheaper and more accessible.
Most North Americans know millet as bird food or hippie food. Elsewhere, it is grown as animal feed or a possible source of ethanol. But millet is also much more!
In many parts of the world, mainly in India, China and Asia, millet has been a staple food for thousands of years due to its wonderful properties.
Millet is very nutritious. Millet is alkaline, hydrates your gut, contains mood-boosting serotonin, and is high in magnesium, niacin, and protein. Millet is good for the heart, lowers cholesterol, has a low glycemic index, is low in fat, and free of gluten. Millet does not cause allergic reactions.
Quinoa has similar nutritional properties but is higher in fat. A cup of boiled quinoa has 8g of complete protein, while a cup of millet has 6g of regular protein. You can add some legumes to millet, a little oil and even the score!
However, quinoa has serious disadvantages. On the one hand, it costs an average of 5 times more than millet, plus its environmental and ethical reputation leaves much to be desired. One of the reasons millet is cheaper than quinoa is that it is not in demand in the US as a human food. The situation may change, but this will probably not lead to a sharp increase in costs.
After all, millet grows almost anywhere and, like quinoa, does not require trucks to be sent thousands of miles away, increasing carbon dioxide emissions and depriving Andean smallholder farmers of their traditional food source. Millet also does not need special processing to be edible, unlike quinoa.
In fact, we can grow millet on tiny farms or in our backyards, eat it, or eat it and sell it in local markets. Therefore, millet is called the food of greens and hippies. Millet has been a popular food for thousands of years because it is so versatile. Millet can substitute for other grains such as rice, wheat, or quinoa in many recipes. Millet is cooked in the same way as rice, it takes about 20 minutes and can be pre-soaked or cooked in a pressure cooker.
The more water you add and the longer you cook it, the softer and creamier it becomes. Millet can be pureed (for example, for baby food), or it can be dry, crumbly, toasted.
Millet can be breakfast, lunch or dinner, depending on what you do with it. The fact that it is gluten free is a bonus. Here are some ideas for cooking millet.
Roasted millet goes well with cashew nuts and mushroom sauce. Use boiled millet as a base for sauces and gravies. Use boiled millet in place of quinoa and oatmeal to make a breakfast cereal—simply add milk, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, cinnamon, salt, or whatever you like to your cereal. Bring to a boil, simmer until thickened, eat!
Or bring raw millet to a boil and leave it overnight in a pot so breakfast is ready when you get up in the morning. Add boiled millet to stir-fries, stews, soups, just as you would add quinoa or rice. Or use millet to make mushroom pilaf by adding millet instead of rice.
Millet has a neutral taste and light color, millet flour is inexpensive, it makes excellent pastries – bread, muffins, as well as pancakes and flat cakes.
Millet is very easy to grow. Farmers in North America have been trying to grow quinoa, hoping to cash in on the craze, but it has proven to be very picky about where it grows and growing conditions need to be just right.
The ideal growing conditions for quinoa are high in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, which is one of the reasons why shipping costs for quinoa are so high and have a lousy carbon footprint.
In addition, removing the bitter skin to make quinoa edible requires special equipment.
Millet, on the other hand, is easy to grow where summers are long and hot. Millet can be sown in any soil that is suitable for corn. The average amount of precipitation is quite enough, you don’t have to worry about additional watering.
Mature seeds are easily released from the outer shell with light friction. They are very small, rounded, with pointed ends. When the seeds are harvested, they need to be allowed to dry for a few days before they can be packaged. Judith Kingsbury