December 08, 2008

For the Birds

The other day I was telling a coworker about some of the grains I have in the pantry and her eyes grew wide at words like "amaranth" and "millet." And well they should. I lived a good long time on this earth and had never heard of eating these things until recently. What a shame! Millet has a particularly useful texture that makes it great for forming things like cookies (yes, I've made millet cookies! i have to post about those!) and patties like the ones I made for dinner the other night.

Here's a bit more about millet: Sure, it's known as bird food. But millet is also a grain our ancestors ate. So, if you are looking to eat more naturally or more like our bodies were intended to eat from the earth, millet is a good choice. Plus it's got great nutritional value: magnesium, manganese and phosphorus abound. From

Millet is thought to have originated in North Africa, specifically in Ethiopia, where it has been consumed since prehistoric times. There is even mention of millet in the Bible as an ingredient for unleavened bread.

Millet is still an extremely important food staple in Africa where finely ground millet is used to make a traditional flatbread known as injera. Since ancient times, millet has been widely consumed in Asia and India as well. The Indian flatbread roti is made from ground millet seeds.

The millet cakes I made for dinner were a mixed with kale, tofu a little flour and seasoning. The recipe can be found in The Yoga Cookbook: Vegetarian Food for Body and Mind, although I used kale instead of zucchini. I made patties and fried them in my cast iron pan. (This technique always strikes me as interesting and always takes a lot longer than I want it too. Usually sets off the smoke detector too. Have I mentioned I am NOT a trained chef?) But the result was pretty good so it was worth the effort. For the topping, I pimped out a jar of salsa with fresh veggies and more spices. There's really no right or wrong way to do this, I just go cupboard crazy. So try some millet and if you don't like it you can feed it to the birds.

So what new grains have you tried lately?

12 comments: said...

OK so you get us all salivating with that great picture and a few tidbits of millet recipe...any chance you could share more? I love millet bakes and quinoa dishes this time of year. Healthy and hearty.

amandalouden said...

Looks great to me. I love all grains. Bird food, blah, blah, blah!

Michelle said...

karen--oops, I forgot to add a link to the cookbook I used. i just added it to the post! thanks for reminding me.

amanda--i'm with you, sista.

Jenn said...

Hey, you're supposed to eat like a bird, right? So this is good? :)

I tried steel cut oats last week. LOVE them!

Darya Pino said...

i've been wondering what to do with millet. I bought some once and it ended up tasting like, well, bird seed. Now I know what to do with the rest of it!

J'Hab said...


This looks SO tasty! I'll share my millet with the birds, but they're no getting all of it! Barley and quinoa get me through these short, dark days.

We Boston health-food chef-types have got to stick together! I'd love to link you on my blog. So glad I found your site; keep on a-rockin'!


Laurel from Simple Spoonful said...

I love millet.

Barley was a newish experiment for me...fortunately, it resulted in the Cheesy Barley Pot of Yum Yum, as you may have seen on my site. :P It's not vegan, but I did post some vegan conversion suggestions on it, and I'm curious how it would turn out. I should give it a whirl.

Meantime, I have some farro in a cabinet that I am waiting to play with. I am very, very curious about it. There are few grains I haven't heard of, but Heidi Swanson busted out farro on me a few months back, and I had no idea what she was talking about.

Anonymous said...

Amaranth - yum! Millet - yum, although I need protein with it or I get a little spacey. This time of year I love to have kasha (buckwheat) cooked with raisins, then sprinkled with flax and pumpkin seeds and kissed with maple syrup, for breakfast. Warm and tasty and just feels good.

Lori said...

Good to know you've made some tasty things with it. I included millet in an article I wrote about the benefits of grains, I haven't tried it yet though.

Michelle said...

Jenn--good point! try whole oat groats sometime, i love 'em.

Darya--let me know how it goes, if you try millet again!

J'Hab--thanks for visiting, neighbor! I love barley too.

Laurel--farro is one grain I have not tried! it is sooo expensive compared to the others and not sold in bulk at least at my whole foods. i'm curious about it because of Heidi's blog too :-)

Delightfully Healthy--that sounds really yummy. buckwheat has an unusual flavor but I need to experiment more with it!

Lori--let us know if you try millet and how you prepare it!

Anrosh said...

i am not feeling left out having read "what is that " when they hear amarnath or millet.

there is another kind of millet that i use - the red millet ( high iron content and protein too )most commonly found as flour in the US - makes a great breakfast drink cooked along with some soymilk/milk with sugar or honey.

Maris said...

I like trying new grains! I had wheatberry salad last week and it was delicious. Quinoa is next on my list to try.

Love your blog - can't wait to read through your archives!