Millet: Healthy, Forgotten Ancient Grain

Millet was a staple food in Europe for a long time, but today it is mainly grown in Asia and Africa. However, millet is not only popular with vegetarians and vegans. Because the ancient grain is considered very healthy and easy to prepare.

Millet is a collective term for cereal species such as proso millet, foxtail millet and teff.
The plant is mainly cultivated in Africa and Asia, but it is also suitable for organic farming in Germany.
Millet is full of healthy nutrients and can even be eaten if you are gluten intolerant.
Ten to twelve different grain types are combined under the collective term millet. Well-known genera are proso millet, foxtail millet, pearl millet, finger millet and teff (dwarf millet). These belong to the group of millet millets, also called real millet. There is also sorghum with significantly larger grains. Millet is one of the sweet grasses and grows particularly well in warm soil.

The name “millet” comes from the old Germanic and means something like “saturation” or “nourishment” – a very appropriate name.

How is millet grown?

The small, rounded seeds of millet were already being used as food by the Chinese and Indians around 8,000 years ago. Millet was also cultivated in Europe until the late Middle Ages. After that, it was pushed aside by potatoes and corn.

Even today, the most important millet-growing countries are in Asia and Africa. The ancient grain also grows in Germany and is mostly organically grown here. The plant requires little water, thrives best in warm soil and is very hardy. In addition, it has a fairly short growing season and can therefore be harvested quickly. The stalks of the millet can also be used: natural fibers are made from them.

Buy millet: golden millet, brown millet and millet flour

When buying millet, consumers can choose between millet grains, millet flour, millet flakes and millet semolina. The grains include golden millet. It has a golden yellow color and a subtle nutty taste. Brown millet, on the other hand, has a reddish-brown color and is usually sold ground.

Millet can contain undesirable substances such as oxalic or phytic acid. They are primarily found in the shell. When buying, you should therefore reach for peeled goods, preferably in organic quality.

How healthy is millet?

The ingredients vary depending on the color and type of millet. However, all types of millet are characterized by high amounts of B vitamins, protein, fiber and minerals. Millet contains a lot of iron, fluorine, zinc, magnesium and silicon as well as important amino acids. Due to its high protein content, millet is an important food for vegetarians and vegans. Also read Going Vegan: Five Tips for the Path to Vegan Life.

Millet is also very filling and has comparatively few calories. Millet is gluten-free, as are quinoa and buckwheat. The grain is therefore well suited for people with gluten intolerance (celiac disease).

Cooking millet: millet porridge, millet flakes and other millet recipes

Like rice, you can serve whole millet grains as an accompaniment to many dishes. Millet tastes slightly nutty.

Cooking millet: Here’s how

  1. Before preparation, you should rinse the millet thoroughly under hot water to remove the slightly rancid taste. You can also soak the millet before cooking and rinse it afterwards.
  2. Then cook the millet (similar to rice) with twice the amount of water and salt. You can also use vegetable broth to cook the millet for even more flavor.
  3. Once the water is boiling, turn down the stove.
  4. After about five minutes, turn off the stove completely.
  5. Allow the millet to steep for a few more minutes before serving.

In the form of flour, semolina, or flakes, millet is primarily processed into porridge or flatbread. Millet flakes taste delicious in muesli, for example. Since children and babies in particular need the amino acid leucine from millet, millet porridge is a popular food for small children.

In Africa, millet is even used to brew beer. Breweries use millet to make gluten-free beer. And in this country, millet is often mixed into birdseed.

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