MILLET: energetic, anti-stress and gluten free
Panicum miliaceum, is an annual herbaceous plant widely cultivated. Both the wild ancestor that the precise geographical locations in which began the domestication are today unknown, but probably in ancient times was a culture transcaucasian and chinese about 7,000 years ago. Some studies suggest that it may have been domesticated independently in these two areas.
According to statistics reported by the FAO, in 2004 the main producers of millet in the world were (in millions of tonnes, other cereals are given for comparison):
India 9.4 (72 wheat, rice 128)
Nigeria 6.3 (wheat <0.1, 3.5 rice, sorghum 8.0, corn 4.8)
Niger 2.1 (wheat <0.1, rice <0.1, 0.5 sorghum, corn <0.1)
China 1.8 (92 wheat, rice 181)
Russia 1.1 (45 wheat, barley 17)
Mali 1.0 (wheat <0.1, 0.7 rice, sorghum 0.7, corn 0.5)
Burkina Faso 0.9 (wheat <0.1, rice <0.1, 1.4 sorghum, maize 0.5)
It is still widely cultivated in India, Russia, Ukraine, Middle East, Turkey and Romania. In the United States, it is mainly used to make birdseed. It is identified as a healthy food because it contains no gluten and can in fact be included in diet of people who can not tolerate wheat or for those suffering from other forms of allergies or intolerance to gluten or wheat.
What does it contain?
It is rich in vitamins A and group B, especially niacin, B6 and folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc. For its high content of silicic acid, it is often considered a genuine beauty product for skin and hair, nails and teeth enamel, in fact stimulates their growth.
Millet has a high dietary value, this also due to its content of protein (12% by weight) similar to that of the grain, minerals and raw fiber. This cereal does not provide all the essential amino acids and therefore it is good to combine it with vegetable or animal protein.
Having a good amount of oxidizable lipids (11% by weight of which 78-82% are unsaturated fatty acids), store it in the form of flakes or flour has a limited lifespan, and lasts a long time as a seed. It is therefore advisable to grind the seeds before use.
What properties have?
In traditional Chinese medicine it is considered a food lukewarm, which provides less heat than oats. Its high content in lecithin and choline makes it particularly suited to sedentary people, who is devoted to intellectual work and convalescents, as well as to pregnant women. In fact it prevents miscarriages and helps people who suffer from stomach acid because it is the only cereal alkalizing and easy to digest. It is also useful for all subjects with issues related to the spleen and pancreas.
Millet is also a mild inhibitor of thyroid peroxidase, the enzyme involved in the synthesis of thyroid hormones (a recent study has found a strong correlation between celiac disease and chronic autoimmune thyroid in pediatric patients) and therefore should not be consumed in large quantities by those suffering from thyroid problems.
Diuretic and energizing, millet is recommended in herbal medicine to counteract stress, anemia, depression and exhaustion, especially of intellectual origin.
How to use?
In the feeding present Western millet has marginal interest, being used to produce flour and semolina used mainly by macrobiotic cuisine.
As previously mentioned, millet is gluten free, so it is less naturally inclined to the bread making compared to flours of barley, wheat and rye. When combined with the grain (or gum arabic in the case of products for celiacs), it can be used to produce leavened bread. Alone, can be used to make unleavened dough.
Millet has a sweet taste that makes it very pleasant, it’s pretty quick to cook and does not need soaking. it is important to remember not to boil or drain to keep from throwing away the water with all the properties, but it is good to cook in a casserole, adding twice as much water than the amount of cereal that you want to prepare. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
You can eat it in many ways but, once cooked, thanks to the presence of starch is well suited to the realization of soufflés, croquettes or meatballs with vegetables, spices or what you prefer. This characteristic is useful to those who do not want to, or because of diet or because of a disease, give up dishes where you need eggs, because the starch, as we all know, is a great thickener.
With millet you can also prepare an excellent vegetal milk, viable alternative to cow’s milk. You can find it in natural food stores or prepare it yourself at home.