Cereals represent one of the basic sources of sustenance for mankind.
While wheat, barley, rye and oats are the most important for us, this is not the case in the rest of the world.
One of the very important cereals in Asia and Africa is millet.
Do you think you won’t find it in our kitchen?
And did you know that millet was also once a traditional millet?
What can be prepared from them and what benefits does their consumption bring us?
Let’s take a closer look at this ancient crop.
What is millet?
If you had or have a parakeet or other parrot at home, then it is very likely that you feed them precisely the millet or bird’s beak of which it is a part. In addition, millet is also a very ancient grain that is still used both for human consumption and as fodder for farm animals.
There are more than three hundred different types of millet in the world. However, millet (Panicum miliaceum) is of particular economic importance. As a cereal, millet plays an important role in the lives of millions of people, especially in Africa and Asia.
In the past, it was also a very important crop in Europe for many centuries. Fortunately, millet, especially in the form of millet, is returning to our tables recently. The reason is not only its excellent nutritional values, but also its gluten-free nature.
What are millets?
Due to the fact that the millet grains have a hard and inedible skin, unpeeled millet cannot be consumed. This is how millet has been shelled since ancient times, and it was precisely for the shelled grains that the name millet was adopted. In the kitchen, they can be used similarly to buckwheat or quinoa.
What does millet taste and look like?
As for the taste of millet, it depends on how you prepare it, whether sweet or salty, because they absorb the flavors of other ingredients very easily. As for the millets themselves, their nutty aroma reminds most people of quinoa, even though they look more like couscous.
By the way, when choosing millets, be careful that the balls are shiny and yellow, not black. Black balls are bitter. Due to the fact that millets turn rancid over time, they can only be stored for a limited time even in a dry and cool place. Shelf life can be extended by placing in the freezer.
Why eat millet?
Millet is a cereal very rich in various nutrients. It contains a large amount of carbohydrates, proteins and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Thanks to its nutritional values, it is generally considered a healthy crop that is worth including in the menu for many reasons.
The largest share of millet is represented by carbohydrates, which are slowly absorbed after ingestion, and for this reason, millet dishes satiate us well. Last but not least, millet also contains a significant amount of soluble and insoluble fiber.
Nutritional values, vitamins and minerals in millet
A comparison with other common cereals and pseudo-cereals will also convince us why we should include millet in our diet.
|Buckwheat 100 g|| Quinoa|
|Wheat 100 g|| Barley|
|Energy||378 calories||343 calories||368 calories||337 calories||354 calories||338 calories||379 calories|
|Water||8.67 g||9.75 g||13.3 g||11.1 g||9.44 g||10.6 g||10.8 g|
|Carbohydrates||72.8 g||71.5 g||64.2 g||70.6 g||73.5 g||75.9 g||67.7 g|
|Proteins||11 g||13.2 g||14.1 g||14.5 g||12.5 g||10.3 g||13.2 g|
|Fats||4.22 g||2.1 g||6.07 g||2.13 g||2.3 g||1.63 g||6.52 g|
|Fiber||8.5 g||10 g||7 g||11.1 g||17.3 g||15.1 g||10.1 g|
Of the minerals, millet stands out especially for its high content of zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium. As for vitamins, it is rich in the whole range of B vitamins.
|Buckwheat 100 g|| Quinoa|
|Wheat 100 g|| Barley|
|Vitamin B1||0.421 mg||0.101 mg||0.36 mg||0.566 mg||0.646 mg||0.316 mg||0.45 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.29 mg||0.425 mg||0.318 mg||0.184 mg||0.258 mg||0.251 mg||0.155 mg|
|Vitamin B3||4.72 mg||7.02 mg||1.52 mg||6.38 mg||4.6 mg||4.27 mg||1.12 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.384 mg||0.21 mg||0.487 mg||0.259 mg||0.318 mg||0.294 mg||0.1 mg|
|Potassium||195 mg||460 mg||563 mg||403 mg||452 mg||510 mg||362 mg|
|Phosphorus||285 mg||347 mg||457 mg||364 mg||264 mg||332 mg||410 mg|
|Magnesium||114 mg||231 mg||197 mg||130 mg||133 mg||110 mg||138 mg|
|Calcium||8 mg||18 mg||47 mg||22 mg||33 mg||24 mg||52 mg|
|Zinc||1.68 mg||2.4 mg||3.1 mg||3.68 mg||2.77 mg||2.65 mg||3.64 mg|
|Iron||3.01 mg||2.2 mg||4.57 mg||3.77 mg||3.6 mg||2.65 mg||4.25 mg|
Millet and health
Millet provides more essential amino acids than most other grains. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. What other benefits does millet consumption bring to our body?
- Blood sugar regulation – millet is rich in fiber and non-starch polysaccharides that help regulate blood sugar. It also has a low glycemic index, so it is considered an ideal cereal for people with diabetes. For example, a study conducted on people with type 2 diabetes found that replacing a rice-based breakfast with a millet-based breakfast reduced postprandial blood sugar levels.
- Cholesterol reduction – this crop contains soluble fiber that creates a viscous substance in the intestines. It subsequently captures fats and helps reduce cholesterol levels.
- It does not contain gluten – as a gluten-free cereal, it is a suitable choice for people with celiac disease or those following a gluten-free diet.
- Digestive system – the fiber that millet contains benefits the digestive system, especially the intestines. Its consumption is, for example, a suitable prevention against problems with constipation.
- Antioxidants – millet is rich in phenolic compounds, especially ferulic acid and catechins. These molecules act as antioxidants that protect the body from harmful oxidative stress.
Preparation of millet
As we mentioned above, millet is consumed in the form of shelled grains or millets. The preparation of millet is to a large extent similar to the preparation of buckwheat or quinoa. Before the actual preparation, it is necessary to rinse the millets in cold water. Then pour them in a pot with double the amount of water, i.e. add two cups of water to one cup of millet.
If you want to make porridge from millet, use 3-4 cups of water. Cover the pot with a lid and when the water starts to boil, add a little salt to it. Cook gently for approximately 15-20 minutes. If you want to use millet as a side dish, it is advisable to lightly fry it in a small amount of oil before cooking.
What to cook from millet?
- Baked millet is a very tasty and one-of-a-kind dish. They can be prepared in many ways. The taste of millet goes well with, for example, mushrooms, vegetables, cheese and herbs. But there are also sweet variants, in which case it is often referred to as a jagelník or a cake. For example, you can be inspired by the recipe for millet pudding with apples, cinnamon and nuts .
- The use of millet to prepare porridge is very popular, both in salty and sweet form. Sweet millet porridge is served with fresh fruit, nuts or honey, salty versions with cheese, vegetables or mushrooms. Various recipes for buckwheat porridge can be an inspiration.
- Millet can also be used very easily as a tasty preserve for soup, you can use it, for example, in the preparation of various vegetable soups . Last but not least, they can be used not only to make soup, but also dumplings.
- You can use cooked millet as a side dish to many different dishes, such as buckwheat, quinoa or rice. One of the options are various recipes for stewed meat with vegetables .
- Do you have a weakness for risotto? In that case, try adding millet to rice, or use it alone and prepare a millet risotto. You can draw inspiration from recipes for meat and vegetable risotto .
- Millet flour can also be easily used to prepare various cakes, fritters and bread.
- Last but not least, you will appreciate millet when preparing healthy celery meatballs . But you can also add them to meatballs, cabbage or cauliflower patties.
What is made of millet?
Not only millet is made from millet, but also a number of other products that have a wide range of uses in the kitchen.
Due to its gluten-free nature , millet flour or millet flour is a great alternative to wheat flour. It is used in baking, cooking and thickening. Due to its specific aroma, it is more suitable to combine it with other flours.
Millet flakes are produced in the same way as oatmeal, i.e. by steaming and pressing the grains. They have a very wide range of uses in the kitchen, from the preparation of mash to thickening to the preparation of patties or spreads.
Millet semolina has similar uses as millet flour. Due to its delicacy, it is most suitable for thickening sauces or soups.
Various forms of instant millet porridge are also popular today for their speed and ease of use.
What does millet look like?
From a botanical point of view, millet, like all other cereals, belongs to the extensive family of ryegrass plants. The genus of millet (Panicum) contains more than three hundred species, most of which grow mainly in tropical and subtropical zones.
Depending on the variety, millet can grow from twenty centimeters to four meters in height. Tall plants often tend to recline. From May to September, grape-like panicle inflorescences appear on the smooth stalks, from which later spikelets with grains arise, their color, size and shape depend on the type of millet.
Types of millet
The most important type of millet (Panicum miliaceum), which is one of the oldest cereals in the world, comes from East Asia, where it has been cultivated for at least 10,000 years. In addition to it, there is, for example, the hairy millet (Panicum capilare), which is grown as an ornamental grass. As feed for various exotic birds, mainly Senegalese millet or Italian barberry (Panicum italicum) is used.
Where is millet grown?
Compared to other crops, millet has a number of advantages, including resistance to drought and pests. It is also able to survive in harsh environments and less fertile soil. In places where soil fertility is high and moisture availability is optimal, millet yields higher than in areas where these conditions are limited.
The importance of millet in human history is evidenced by many archaeological findings. It was found in Europe in the remains of buildings from the Stone Age and in the area of ancient Mesopotamia. Millet was also a favorite food of the Slavs, who prepared various porridges and patties from it.
Millet has long been a popular crop in India, China and sub-Saharan African countries. India is currently the largest producer, followed by African countries such as Nigeria, Niger, Mali and Sudan.