The United Nations declared 2023 the International Year of Millets, which got us pretty excited about this little grain. There are a number of reasons why the United Nations is shining a spotlight on this little-known nutri-cereal including millets’ suitability for cultivation under adverse and changing climate conditions.

 

Wait, what is millet?

Millets are a group of grains referred to as “nutri-cereals” because of their high nutrition content compared to more common cereal grains like wheat, rice and corn. Millets are a genetically diverse group including pearl, proso, foxtail, barnyard, little, kodo, browntop, finger and Guinea millets as well as fonio, sorghum (or great millet) and teff. Millets were some of the first plants to be domesticated and serve as a staple crop for millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia to this day. These grains can grow in poor soil with few inputs, are resistant to many crop diseases and pests, and can survive harsh climatic conditions. So far, everything is coming up millets!

Millet is a nutritional powerhouse

  • Gluten free
  • Low Glycemic Index
  • Good source of fiber and protein
  • Excellent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, phosphorus, potassium, antioxidants, niacin, calcium and iron

More Reasons to Love Millets

  • Adaptable to different production environments, without high fertilizer or pesticide needs
  • Deeply tied to ancestral traditions, cultures and Indigenous knowledge
  • Good for animal health as feed
  • Diverse in taste and applications in the kitchen (recipes follow)
  • Quick cooking time
  • A source of income for marginal production areas in rural, urban, regional and
    international trade

You can read more about the International Year of the Millets here.

Find millet products including whole grain millet and millet flour on Co-op shelves year round! Not sure what to do with it? You can swap it out for rice or quinoa in most recipes. I like to toast it and add it to granola, chocolate chip cookies and other bakes goods. Check out some of our favorite recipes below.

Perfect Stovetop Millet

  • 1 cup whole grain millet
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Rinse millet under cold running water for about 30 seconds. Add to a pot with 2 cups water and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat but DO NOT remove the lid. Set a time for 10 more minutes for the millet to steam. When the timer goes off, remove lid and fluff with a fork.  

Vegan Millet Pancakes

  • 1 cup millet flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup nondairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • vegan butter
  • For serving: maple syrup, fresh or stewed berries, peanut butter, toasted coconut, banana slices, etc. 

Combine millet flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Mix well. In a separate bowl, combine mashed bananas, milk and vanilla. Add the dry to the wet and whisk until no lumps remain. 

Heat vegan butter in a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, spoon about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan. You can do more than one at a time, but don’t crowd the pan. Reduce heat and cook until you see bubbles coming to the pancake’s surface and the bottom is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook another 2-4 minutes. Keep pancakes warm in a 180 degree F oven until ready to serve then top with your favorite things! 

Maple Pecan Breakfast Bowl

  • 1 cup cooked millet
  • roasted pumpkin or squash
  • maple pecans*
  • ground flaxseeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • hemp seeds 
  • ground cinnamon
  • maple syrup
  • ½ cup warmed milk of choice

*To make maple pecans preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss raw pecans with a little maple syrup, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool at room temperature before eating or using in a recipe. Store at room temperature for up to 5 days in an airtight container. 

Heat milk over low heat until steaming (hot but not boiling). Add cooked millet to a bowl. Top with roasted pumpkin, maple pecans, seeds, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup. Finish by pouring warmed milk over everything. 

Spiced Millet and Dried Apricot Salad

 or Salad

  • ½ cup uncooked millet (or 2 cups cooked millet)
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped almonds, toasted
  • ¼ cup pistachios, chopped
  • 6 dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons walnut oil (or EVOO)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout seasoning blend 
  • ¼ teaspoon maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • a grind of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Rinse millet in a strainer until the water runs clear.  Add to a small pan with 1 cup of clean water and a pinch of salt, put the lid on, bring to the boil and turn the heat right down to low. Leave the millet simmering for 10-15 minutes until cooked. Remove from the heat but do not remove the lid. Set a time for 10 more minutes for the millet to steam. When the timer goes off, remove lid and fluff with a fork.  Cool at room temperature for about an hour or in the fridge for 20 minutes. 

 

Mix the cooled millet with the rest of the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl. Combine dressing ingredients in a mason jar with a well-fitting lid or in a small bowl. Shake or whisk until combined. Pour over the salad and toss. Allow to sit at room temp for 20 minutes before serving as this will allow flavors to really come together. 

Sweet Potato and Millet Falafel

  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato, mashed*
  • ½ cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus more for sprinkling
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup cooked millet, at room temperature
  • Avocado or grapeseed oil for frying

*Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Cube 1 medium sweet potato (no need to peel – lots of nutrients in the skin) and toss with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and generous pinches of salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes, flip, and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes. Cool slightly then mash with a fork.

Place the chickpeas, sweet potato, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, coriander, salt, cumin, cayenne, and black pepper into the bowl of a food processor and pulse, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until all of the ingredients are uniform in size, but still slightly grainy in texture. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and fold in the cooked millet. Roll 2-3 tablespoons of the falafel mixture into a small patty with your hands. Repeat with the rest of the falafel mixture placing the uncooked falafel on a large plate or baking sheet until ready to cook.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of frying oil in the skillet and swirl to coat. Place the patties in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until crispy and brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb the excess oil and sprinkle with salt.