Millet is a healthy whole grain that is naturally gluten free and easy to digest. It is not often eaten in our country, but is readily available in natural food stores. Millet is very inexpensive and cooks up in less than 30 minutes. I started experimenting with millet when I began working at Mother Earth’s. I wanted to create tasty and healthy dishes with this nutritious and affordable ingredient. In the last few years I have come up with several recipes, which I have prepared for our customers several times–so I figured it was time for a new one. Black beans were on sale this month along with the millet–and so inspired the creation of this dish. This recipe is mild, so if you like spice–add more!
1 cup uncooked millet—rinsed
2 cups water
1 vegetable bouillon cube (or 1 tsp. salt)
2 tsp. chili powder (or to taste)
2 Tbs. olive oil (or your favorite cooking oil)
1 Tbs. minced garlic
½ cup chopped onions
2-3 cups finely chopped greens (kale, chard, spinach, etc)
1 cup cooked black beans
½ cup cooked corn
1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
Put water, bouillon, and chili powder into a medium size saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add millet. Cover and return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Cook until done (approx. 20-25 minutes). Keep covered; millet will soften. Set aside. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook briefly, then add the greens. Cook until tender (adding a little water if needed—but be sure that all water is evaporated before adding to the millet). Fluff the millet and then add the veggies. Stir to combine. Toss in remaining ingredients. Serve warm, hot or at room temperature.
Health Benefits of Millet
Millet provides a host of nutrients, has a sweet nutty flavor, and is considered to be one of the most digestible and non-allergenic grains available. It is one of the few grains that is alkalizing to the body.
- Millet is alkaline and it digests easily.
- Millet will hydrate your colon to keep you from being constipated.
- Millet acts as a prebiotic feeding microflora in your inner ecosystem.
- The serotonin in millet is calming to your moods.
- Millet is a smart carb with lots of fiber and low simple sugars. Because of this it has a relatively low glycemic index and has been shown to produce lower blood sugar levels than wheat or rice.
- Magnesium in millet can help reduce the effects of migraines and heart attacks.
- Niacin (vitamin B3) in millet can help lower cholesterol.
- Millet consumption decreases triglycerides and C-reactive protein. Scientists in Seoul, South Korea concluded that millet may be useful in preventing cardiovascular disease.
- All millet varieties show high antioxidant activity.
- Millet is gluten-free and non-allergenic. A great grain for sensitive individuals.
- Millet’s high protein content (15 percent) makes is a substantial addition to a vegetarian diet.
Health Benefits Black Beans
Black beans are very high in fiber, folate, protein, and antioxidants, along with numerous other vitamins and minerals. Black beans make a complete protein when paired with brown rice, which is often why they are so commonly included in a vegetarian diet.
Digestive Tract Benefits
The high quantity of both protein and fiber in black beans help to move food through the stomach to the large intestine at a healthier pace. This keeps any one part of the digestive tract from having to work too hard and supports the ideal balance of chemicals and populations of microorganisms required for a healthy digestive system.
Blood Sugar Regulation
The steady movement of protein and fiber through the digestive system allows for a measured breakdown of food into its component parts. This even breakdown of food helps to curtail extremes regarding simple sugar uptake from the digestive tract. An excess of simple sugar uptake all at once can produce an unwanted blood sugar spike. A lack of simple sugar uptake may produce a rapid blood sugar drop. Either extreme can upset blood sugar balance. The quantity of fiber and protein in black beans helps avoid both extremes.
Black beans are abundant in soluble fiber, which is specifically the type of fiber that has been found very helpful in lowering blood cholesterol levels. Lowered risks of coronary heart disease and heart attack have both been associated with increased consumption of soluble fiber, particularly from legumes. Black beans are also high in folate and magnesium, both nutrients highly associated with preservation of cardiovascular health, and the antioxidant minerals zinc and manganese.
Cancer Prevention Considering that black beans contain at least 8 different flavonoids with enormous antioxidant potential, and their high content of phytochemicals, it’s hardly surprising that studies have connected black bean consumption with reduced risk of certain cancers. Recent studies have suggested considerable effectiveness against colon adenoma, a non-cancerous tumor that can progress into colon cancer.
Nervous System Health
Folate, or vitamin B6, is particularly abundant in black beans. The nervous system relies on folate to produce the amino acids it needs to function. For pregnant women a deficiency in folate can cause the improper development of the fetus’s brain and spinal cord. The high iron content of black beans is also particularly beneficial to pregnant women.