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November 10, 2013

Millet: The Pearl of Ancient Grains

by Anne Paddock

Millet – and specifically pearl millet – is a widely grown grass that gives off small grain seeds which are hulled and used as a cereal food.   Creamy or yellow in color, round, and small, the tiny circular grains of millet hail from Asia where it has been cultivated for more than 10,000 years.

Able to grow quickly in dry, high temperatures, millet has until recently been used as an ingredient in bird seed in developed countries (but it’s really not for the birds as USAID recently – July, 2013 – awarded Kansas State University nearly $14 million dollars to research millet and sorghum). Millet is gluten-free and a complete protein, with 1/4 cup of dry millet providing 7 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, magnesium, calcium, B6, iron, folate, and zinc.

canstockphoto6906660Millet has a very mild slightly sweet flavor (so whatever is added to it takes on the predominant flavor) and can be used as a breakfast cereal or porridge and as an alternative to rice. To cook millet, refer to the package directions.  Bob’s Red Mill millet requires 1 cup of whole grain millet be added to 2 cups of boiling water and that the grain be cooked for 20 minutes whereas the organic millet from Purcell Mountain Farms advises 1 cup of millet be added to 4 cups of boiling water and that the grains be cooked for 30-35 minutes. Add your favorite toppings – cinnamon, brown sugar, honey,dried fruits, nuts, fresh fruits – and enjoy.  Although millet is primarily used as a breakfast cereal, millet is also delicious mixed with cooked green peas or small broccoli florets.

Millet-FMillet flour (stone ground whole grain) can also be used in baking with Bob’s Red Mill recommending that up to 1/4 of regular flour be replaced with whole grain millet flour to give baked goods a more delicate crumb texture. And, of course millet flour is a great alternative for those on a gluten-free diet.

Millet can be purchased through Bob’s Red Mill (www.bobsredmill.com) where a 28 ounce (1 pound, 12 ounces) bag of organic millet is $2.89. Purcell Mountain Farms (www.purcellmountainfarms.com) also sells organic millet in a 1 pound bag for $3.49, a 3 pound bag for $6.85, and a 5 pound bag for $11.80.

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