Friday, May 2, 2014


Millet is an ancient grain high in protein, essential nutrients, and heart-healthy soluble fibre. I really love millet - the whole grain and flour both. In addition to being gluten-free, Ayurvedically, millet is sweet, dry, light, and rajasic/sattvic. I.e. it won't contribute to mucous formation and heaviness in the body that grains like wheat do. Millet is a mild goitrogen though, so if you have thyroid problems, avoid eating it every day. I generally don't eat any grain everyday or for a number of days in a row. I like to vary the grains I eat, and also throw in some grain-free days a couple of times a week. In general, apart from unfermented soy, I don't exclude any bean, grain, or legume from my diet.

I also don't subscribe to food trends - like quinoa. Not that quinoa is bad, but I don't like its taste, texture, appearance, and effect on my body, and although I don't yet know it, there must be a reason why my body doesn't like quinoa. Over the years I've learnt to listen to my body - it tells me things for a reason, and it's always been right. As an aside, quinoa and millet both have high protein content and are nutritionally comparable.

Soaking grains helps neutralise phytic acid which can interfere with the absorption of nutrients in the body. Although millet has among the lowest phytate content, it's still good practice to soak it and neutralise the little phytate content it has. Toasting isn't essential but it brings out a delicious nuttiness in the millet - if you don't have time to toast, just soak the millet and carry on with the recipe.

Rutabagas are a member of the cruciferous family, as evidenced by the slightly sulfuric cabbage-y smell when you cut into one. Also like cruciferous vegetables, rutabaga can be eaten raw but when cooked it develops a wonderful hint of sweetness that I really love! It's a terrific complement to roasted sweet potatoes, potatoes, and carrots.

And dandelions... as I've said before, they're dismissed off as weeds but really are quite an excellent and nutritious green. I really love the mild bitterness of the dandelion and in spring when they're in season, I have them quite regularly in my smoothies and sautéed as a green. The dandelion pesto lasts forever in the freezer - I make a large batch then freeze in a couple of smaller containers and use as a sandwich spread, on eggs, in a rice salad, on salmon, pasta... just like any other pesto. 

Millet with Dandelion Pesto and Roasted Vegetables
makes: 4 - 6 servings (1-1/2 - 1 cups per serving)

- 1/2 cup dandelion pesto
- 1 cup millet, toasted in a pan and soaked for 8 - 24 hours
- 2-1/2 cups water
- 1 shallot, sliced (or small red onion)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 capsicum, diced (any colour)
- 1 tbsp. caraway seeds
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley)
- salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Roasted Vegetables:
- 1 medium sweet potato, cut into chunks
- 2 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
- 2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
- 1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 2 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into chunks
- 1 tbsp. cumin seeds
- salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F/220 C.
  2. Roast the vegetables: in a large bowl toss the sweet potato, potatoes, carrots, and rutabaga with 1 tbsp. coconut oil, 1/2 tbsp. cumin seeds, salt, and pepper. Grease a baking sheet with 1/2 tbsp. coconut oil and spread the vegetables on it in a single layer. Roast for 20 - 25 minutes or until cooked (the rutabaga won't become soft like potatoes will, but it's fine because rutabaga can even be eaten raw).
  3. In the same bowl used for tossing the root vegetables, toss the cauliflower, tomatoes, and zucchini with the remaining 1/2 tbsp. coconut oil, 1/2 tbsp. cumin seeds, salt, and pepper.
  4. Remove the roasted root vegetables from the oven and transfer to a clean bowl. In the same baking tray, spread the tomatoes, cauliflower and zucchini in a single layer and roast at 400 F/200 C for 15 - 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is just cooked - it should not be mushy. Remove from the oven and add to the bowl with the root vegetables. Turn the oven off.
  5. Cook the millet: While the vegetables are roasting, bring the 2-1/2 cups water to a rolling boil in a saucepan and add the millet. Give it a quick stir and continue to boil for 3-5 minutes. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pan and cook for another 15 minutes or until the millet is soft and fully cooked.
  6. While the millet is cooking, heat the coconut oil in a deep skillet or wide pan on medium, and add the caraway seeds. When the seeds start to sizzle, add the shallot, garlic, and capsicum and stir. Turn the heat to low and sauté till the vegetables are a bit soft, adding 1/4 cup water if needed to keep them from sticking since we're using just 1 tbsp. oil. When the vegetables are sautéed, add in the cooked millet, dandelion pesto, and chopped cilantro, and mix. Add salt and pepper to your taste.
  7. Add the roasted vegetables and mix well before serving. (To reheat in a microwave: sprinkle a bit of water and cover the bowl then heat).

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