(Re)discovering Millet, a Cereal Rich in Carbohydrates and Proteins

Everything you need to know about this cereal that can serve as a meat substitute

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By Alex


Millet is an excellent meat substitute, thanks to its richness in carbohydrates and proteins. Let’s discover all its properties and how to use it in the kitchen.

What is millet?

Millet is an ancient gluten-free grain that was once popular, especially among less wealthy people. It’s one of the oldest grains cultivated by humans, dating back over 6,000 years. Today, it’s not used as much and has been replaced by meat. Its scientific name is panicum miliaceum, and it originally comes from East Africa.

In the past, in places like ancient Egypt, during Roman times, and in the Middle Ages, millet was a basic food in people’s diets because it’s rich in carbohydrates and proteins. Nowadays, it’s more common in Africa, while in the Western world, it’s mostly seen as bird food. However, it should be appreciated more, especially because growing millet requires less water than other grains like rice and wheat, which helps conserve water resources.

Nutritional characteristics of millet

Millet’s nutritional value is attributed to its rich content of vitamins and mineral salts. It contains vitamins A, E, K, and those from the B group. In terms of minerals, millet offers iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

What’s even more noteworthy is its higher protein content compared to other grains. This makes it a recommended dietary choice for individuals with nutritional deficiencies, those with reduced appetite, growing children and adolescents, and those facing physical or intellectual stress.

Additionally, a significant advantage of millet is its gluten-free nature, making it an excellent option for individuals following a celiac diet.

Millet properties and health benefits

Millet is a grain with a range of properties and health benefits that make it a valuable addition to your diet:

  • Nutrient-Rich: Millet is packed with vitamins, including vitamin A, E, K, and various B vitamins. It’s also a source of essential minerals such as iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.
  • High Protein Content: Millet boasts a higher protein content compared to many other grains, making it an excellent choice for those seeking to increase their protein intake. This is particularly beneficial for individuals with nutritional deficiencies, those experiencing a lack of appetite, growing children and adolescents, and people facing physical or intellectual stress.
  • Gluten-Free: Millet is naturally gluten-free, which makes it a safe and nutritious option for individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
  • Digestibility: Millet is relatively easy to digest, which can be helpful for individuals with digestive issues.
  • Heart Health: The fiber and magnesium in millet may contribute to heart health. Fiber helps lower cholesterol levels, while magnesium supports cardiovascular function.
  • Weight Management: Millet’s high fiber content can aid in maintaining a healthy weight by promoting a feeling of fullness and reducing overall calorie intake.
  • Antioxidant Properties: Millet contains antioxidants, which can help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals.
  • Blood Sugar Regulation: Some studies suggest that millet may help regulate blood sugar levels, making it a potentially valuable option for individuals with diabetes.
  • Bone Health: The presence of essential minerals like calcium and magnesium in millet can contribute to maintaining strong and healthy bones.
  • Versatility: Millet can be used in a variety of dishes, from breakfast porridge to salads and side dishes. Its versatility makes it easy to incorporate into your diet.

Incorporating millet into your meals can provide a range of health benefits while adding a unique flavor and texture to your culinary repertoire.

To date, there are no known contraindications for consumption, unless the person develops hypersensitivity to one of its components.

Nutrinional values of millet

The nutritional values of 100 grams of cooked millet are approximately as follows:

  • Calories: 143 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 31.2 grams
  • Protein: 5.2 grams
  • Fat: 1.7 grams
  • Fiber: 3.5 grams
  • Sugars: 0.4 grams
  • Vitamins and Minerals:
    • Vitamin B6: 0.1 mg (5% DV)
    • Niacin (Vitamin B3): 1.6 mg (8% DV)
    • Folate (Vitamin B9): 11 mcg (3% DV)
    • Calcium: 8 mg (1% DV)
    • Iron: 0.6 mg (3% DV)
    • Magnesium: 25 mg (6% DV)
    • Phosphorus: 112 mg (11% DV)
    • Potassium: 195 mg (6% DV)
    • Zinc: 0.7 mg (5% DV)

Please note that the exact nutritional values may vary slightly depending on the specific variety and cooking method of millet.

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Does millet make you fat?

Absolutely not! Being low in fat and cholesterol-free, it combines rather well with a controlled diet, if not with a weight-loss diet.

How to cook millet?

Millet is available on the market both in the form of grains, which appear as small balls which then swell when cooked, absorbing water, and as flour and flakes.

To be made edible, the grains are deprived of the external seed coat, so that they can be cooked more easily and quickly. This is why we talk about hulled grains.

This cereal lends itself to being cooked in a rather simple way, for example like rice, both pilaf and risotto, or in soups.

Some precautions must also be respected when cooking, which must be preceded by a brief wash under running water, while it is not necessary to leave it to soak.

Dose carefully, calculating per person a quantity equal to 60 g of millet if prepared as risotto, 70 g as rice pilaf and 30 g in the soup.

Furthermore, the proportions with respect to the cooking water must be respected, so for one part of this cereal two and a half times the volume of water is needed. Cooking in the pot takes no less than 20 minutes.

millet recipes
Millet goes perfectly with all vegetables.

Recipes with millet: risotto with vegetables

Now let’s see a tasty recipe with this grain and vegetables.


  • 200 g of hulled millet
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • a courgette
  • 1 egg
  • grated Parmesan cheese


  • Boil the cereal over a low heat, in half a liter of boiling salted water, until it has absorbed the water.
  • In a non-stick pan, fry the chopped onion and then the peeled and chopped vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Pour the millet into the pan and stir in a nice sprinkling of Parmesan. Don’t mix too much because it tends to stick!

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