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Baking & Cooking With Gluten-free Grains: Gluten-free Cooking With Millet:
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Do you have a problem digesting gluten, a protein found in wheat and some other grains? Or perhaps you are just an adventurous wholefood cook, looking to spread your culinary repertoire and extend the range of ingredients you are comfortable using? If so then you may want to consider giving houseroom to millet, one of the more unusual grains, in your storecupboard. You can find millet rice and corn, and all of the other gluten-free grains, on the shelves of your local whole-food shop, perhaps even in more than one variation such as white millet, yellow millet and red millet.
What Is Millet? The Mystery Grain
Millet is a grain from the family Graminae,1 which it has in common with wheat and other grains such as rye and barley. However unlike wheat it is free of the sticky protein gluten which causes so many people, especially coeliacs, disagreeable digestive problems. You may find millet flour used in commercial gluten-free products such as bread and muesli.
Attention Celiacs: Gluten-free Cooking With Millet
Millet can be cooked much like rice and is a versatile ingredient, which can be served in both sweet and savoury dishes. It does well as a carbohydrate rich accompaniment to a main dish. Its cooked consistency varies with treatment and length of cooking: cooked long enough, when allowed to cool it has a ‘sliceable’ solid appearance rather like polenta. (I have not however found it to fry well in this way as polenta does). I have also used it as an alternative to rice in risottos, producing a pleasant result, although it produces a slightly ‘puddingy’ texture. It does make a nice sweet milk pudding. Millet flakes are also available, as well as whole grains, and make a rather nice milky breakfast porridge which is very quick to cook, although they are often rather expensive. Millet’s flavour eaten alone is mild and slightly savoury, with a very slight ‘crunch’ if lightly cooked.
Millet: It's Not Just For The Birds!
Of course if you associate millet mostly with bird seed, especially in the case of budgerigars, then you may find the mental image slightly offputting! Many of us have had budgies as pets as kids, and no doubt fed them unhulled millet. However millet can also provide a delicious food for humans. In appearance it consists of small round pale yellow grains with a tiny dark spot on one side. Millet is grown worldwide including the U.S., China, India and Africa. As many as eight different types of millet can be found.1 The appearance of the growing millet plant varies between the different types.
Low Fat, High In Minerals: Nutritional Content Of Millet
Regarding nutritional content, http://www.nutritiondata.com quotes a portion of cooked millet as having 41 grams of carbohydrate, 6 grams of protein and 2 grams of total fat content, making it an ideal addition to a low-fat diet. http://www.nutritiondata.com also describes millet as being high in manganese content.2 As with most grains millet will provide a complete protein when combined with beans or peas. There's the basic gen on millet nutrition for you!
Have you never tried millet before? Do you feel like having a culinary adventure? Trying something you've never tried before, putting a mystery dish on the table? Go on, be a devil – buy a packet today!
1. Winch, T. "Growing Food: A Guide to Food Production." Dordrecht: Springer, 2007.
2. Nutrition Data. "Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Millet, Cooked." 2009. (01/02/2010). <http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5702/2>