The Orion

Rock the drought: Kill it with millet

Grace Kerfoot

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California’s drought is a big deal and it’s about to deliver a roundhouse kick to your food budget.

As the agricultural breadbasket of America continues to dry up, we can anticipate that farmers will struggle and food prices will rise.

It’s time to start thinking and eating drought consciously. While some crops (almonds and rice) guzzle the gallons, others can flourish on very little water. One of these drought resistant-crops is millet.

MilletWEB.jpg

What is it?

Millet is a small, yellow, gluten-free grain that has been cultivated for thousands of years in the Middle and Far East. It’s drought resistant, cheap to buy, easy to cook and more nutrient dense than any bowl of white rice.

What’s it made of?

The nutrient breakdown for millet makes it highly appealing to anyone looking to improve their diet or explore gluten-free grains. This little ancient grain is a rich source of iron, fiber and packs 6 grams of protein per cooked cup. Dare I say it could be the next quinoa?

How do you eat it?

Raw or cooked, millet is delicious. To any grain aficionado, it has a mild, sweet and slightly nutty flavor which aids in its culinary versatility. Millet can be cooked like oats or quinoa or added raw into granola bars or baked goods.

The raw texture is crunchy and fun, while the cooked texture falls anywhere from creamy-like porridge to fluffy-like quinoa depending on the cooking time and liquid ratio. Let its golden color shine in anything you would typically use conventional grains for — it’s like eating sunshine.

How do you cook it?

For fluffy millet: add the 1 cup of millet and 2 cups boiling water to a pot. Simmer (uncovered) for 13-18 minutes, remove from heat, fluff with a fork and let stand for 10 minutes.

– Uses: Substitute millet for quinoa, rice or other grains in salads or side dishes.

For sticky millet: Bring 1 cup millet to a boil in 2 1/2 cups water, simmer for 13-18 minutes, remove from heat, then let stand 10 minutes.

– Uses: Form into patties or substitute for sushi rice in wraps.

– For creamy millet: Grind 1 cup millet in a spice grinder or small food processor. Boil 4 cups water and gradually whisk in millet. Cover the pot; lower the heat and simmer, stir occasionally for 15 to 30 minutes until the consistency is porridge-like and the millet is tender.

– Savory uses: Add some cracked pepper and a knob of butter and eat it like polenta.

– Sweet uses: Add maple syrup or honey and dress it up like you would with any bowl of oatmeal.

Where can you buy it?

Millet sells for dirt cheap — probably because it is still somewhat of an elusive grain that most people still (accurately) associate with birdseed. Find it in bulk at Winco, S&S Organic Produce and Natural Foods or Chico Natural Foods Cooperative, or in packaging by the Bob’s Red Mill brand.

Be a trendsetter. Be sustainable. Eat nutritiously. Go buy some millet.

Grace Kerfoot can be reached at [email protected] or @gracekerf on Twitter.

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Rock the drought: Kill it with millet