Alrighty, we're officially in week 1 of my [re]fresh program, which is a whole foods and whole life detox that emphasizes REAL foods and radical self-care (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual). It's going so great so far... some of the participants have already seen a reduction in inflammation and chronic pain!
This post is about this millet porridge which is a perfect example of a [re]fresh-approved breakfast. You might recognize millet as an ingredient found in birdseed, but it's also been a powerful staple food for humans for thousands of years. When you consume the whole grain (or in this case, millet is actually a seed) you get to benefit from the fiber and protein, as well we B-vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, and fats. Millet is high in magnesium, which helps protect the heart, and increases the efficiency of insulin and glucose receptors, preventing diabetes. Overall, like most fiber-rich foods, it can help clean out the gastrointestinal system, stimulate digestion and the elimination of waste.
UPDATE: Funny story, I already wrote the title of this blog post "not just for the birds" and then that night, one of the women doing this program told me that she went to the grocery store and could not find millet anywhere. Eventually, she asked an employee and he walked her over to the bird food!!! They didn't have it otherwise!
Anyway, I made a big batch of millet in my Instant Pot, and have been eating off of it for savory meals as well as making this cozy breakfast bowl. Here are a couple other ways I've enjoyed working in millet this week:
A case for grains: If you haven't tried millet yet, I say give it a go! Like any grain, it's incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. In Korea, I noticed that my cooking instructor included a bit of millet in the rice cooker, saying it was for the extra nutrients. I love mixing up my grains weekly (millet, teff, quinoa, rice, kamut, freekeh, buckwheat to name a few).
Whole grains provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and phytonutrients - and they've been linked to lower risk of disease and longer lifespan. Of course, these benefits apply only to the actual whole grains, not bread or cereal that has "whole grain" on the front label.
Here are a few tips for consuming grains in a healthy way:
1. If you have a gluten intolerance, obviously stay away from grains that contain gluten and even things like oats which, unless specified GF, are often contaminated
2. Focus on whole, minimally-processed grains (and foods in general!)
3. Cook your grains thoroughly - this is another reason I love the Instant Pot so much - helps reduce lectins and cooks grains properly
4. Try soaking your grains/seeds in water or water with a splash of ACV before cooking
5. Avoid the grains that have been overused and manipulated like wheat and corn. Go for organic, ancient grains if possible.
6. Eat grains in small amounts, and pay attention to how you feel afterward. If you suspect a sensitivity, try an elimination diet.
7. Mix it up - try new grains
8. Try sprouted and fermented grains - they are often easier to digest
Some extra info if you're interested: Harvard Nutrition - Whole Grains and Disease and more on the grain debate.