Gluten-Free & High-Fiber Millet Upma

Millet Upma

Farmed thousands of years ago & revered in ancient texts, Millet is an ancient grain tracing it’s roots to the Far East. According to Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, ‘Unlike most other grains, this versatile, gluten free grain is alkaline, which makes it easy to digest and helps balance the body’s natural tendency towards acidity.’

  • Millet is also gluten free, protein rich & is an excellent source of dietary fiber.
  • It is anti-oxidant rich & provides a significant source of necessary minerals:
    • phosphorous
    • potassium
    • magnesium which reduce effects of migraines & heart attacks
    • Niacin (vit B3) which helps lower cholesterol & triglycerides
  • While comparable to semolina in calories & carb count, millet has a lower glycemic load meaning that its high fiber & low simple sugar composition produces lower blood sugar levels than rice.
  • Millet helps foster healthy gut bacteria, and the serotonin is calming to the mood.  (all info from www.Care2.com).

Millet looks like large quinoa, and is sometimes mistaken for it. This whole grain can be used as a healthier alternative to rice and can be cooked both savory or sweet. My friend Uma gave me this idea and given the health benefits and easy of preparation, it will definitely be a staple in my pantry.

Millet Upma

Gluten-Free & High-Fiber Millet Upma

(Makes about 6 cups; serves 4-5)

  • 2 cups hulled millet (not pearled)*****
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 big onion (chopped fine)
  • 8-10 green chillies
  • 1 inch ginger (grated) [or] 1 1/2 Tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 medium tomato (chopped fine)
  • 1 medium potato (diced into small pieces)
  • 1 large carrot (diced)
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp lemon / lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  1. Heat a large heavy bottom pan on medium flame, and add oil.
  2. When oil heats up, add the onions, chillies and the ginger and fry till the onions start to slightly brown, stirring frequently.
  3. Add tomatoes and saute till they are soft, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the carrots, potatoes, peas, salt & turmeric and stir fry for 3-5 minutes on medium-high flame.
  5. Add the water and bring to a boil.
  6. Immediately add the millet, stir everything well and return to boil.
  7. Reduce flame, cover and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes on low flame. Do not lift lid midway to check.
  8. Remove from heat, stir and recover; allow the millet to sit for about 10 minutes.
  9. Add the lemon juice & cilantro and stir before serving.

EASY method: Season directly in a pressure cooker pan, roast the vegetables for only 2 minutes, add water and millet, and cover. Cook on medium flame for 2 whistles. Allow to rest for about 15 minutes before opening and adding cilantro & lime juice.

***** Hulled millet is still a whole grain which is ‘shelled’ / just the bran removed – a realistic way of humans being able to consume it. Pearled millet is more processed and polished to make cooking times lower.

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Jicama Salad with Thai Spices

Jicama Salad with Thai Spices

After the carb-overload from Memorial Day weekend, this salad has made a steady appearance on my plate this week. Spinach salad gets old soon, I still haven’t developed a taste for kale, and I refuse to eat lettuce! I mean – why?!?! Seriously – why?  🙂 I’d much rather eat a bowl of steamed veggies. Anyway, I generally shop at the local international supermarket, and see so many different varieties of produce. I have finally decided to try atleast one new thing each month, and hopefully make something worth sharing here. I had seen many recipes using Jicama on Pinterest, and figured it would be a good idea to make a salad or stir fry with. Originating from Mexico, this root vegetable is slightly sweet and crunchy – almost like a mix between an apple and a potato. It can be eaten raw or cooked, and does not change color or texture even after cutting and saving in the refrigerator for a few days. Turns out it is pretty inexpensive too – under $1/lb. Choose one that is firm and heavy, without any bruises or mold. To use, cut the top and bottom to level on chopping board. Then, make small slits and peel off the thin brown skin.

According to the USDA National Nutrition Database, 100 gms of jicama has only 38 calories; approx. 8 gms carbs; approx. 5 gms fiber; 20 mg Vit C. 

Jicama Info

(photo from http://bonnieplants.com)

Jicama Salad with Thai Spices

(Serves 2)

All ingredients are to taste, so I am skipping measurements. This salad is light, crunchy, and healthy. Plus, it holds its texture and color very well. I julienned a medium jicama on Monday, and it stayed the same till this afternoon (what you see in the photos). Store bought julienned carrots were used. To keep apples from browning, drop into a bowl of Sprite or any lemon-lime soda immediately after cutting and soak for a few minutes (I save the large bottles that go flat after opening for a party). Drain completely, and the apples will not darken for several hours. Alternately, you can just grate all the veggies using the larger holes in your grater.

Jicama Salad with Thai Spices

  • 1 small to medium jicama
  • 1 medium apple of choice (I used green Granny Smith as it crisp)
  • Julienned carrots
  • Finely chopped green / Thai chili
  • Finely grated ginger
  • Fish sauce (you can probably substitute soy sauce or just plain salt, but the flavor will be different)
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Sugar (optional – about 1/2 tsp)
  • Roasted chopped peanuts (salted or unsalted)

Toss all ingredients in a bowl, and top with more roasted peanuts and cilantro.

Mexican-style Black Beans (Vegan)

Black Beans

I made this super easy and yummy black beans  to go with the Homemade Chipotle-Style Buffet & Tortilla Salad (Lots of Vegetarian Options). We filled baked tortilla bowls with cilantro-lime rice, black or pinto beans, tofu sofritos or taco chicken, corn salsa, tomato salsa, red onions, cheese, sour cream, cheese and cilantro for a delicious meal. These black beans can be eaten as-is, or topped on rice/quinoa too. To see pictures of the buffet table and the finished salad, click here.

Mexican-Style Black Beans

(Serves 12-15)

  • 1 lb dry black beans*** (picked through, rinsed, & soaked overnight)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 2 large cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 large onion (chopped fine)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

1) In a large stockpot, add the beans, water and salt and bring to a boil.

2) Simmer, partially covered for about 30-40 minutes till bite tender.

3) In another pan, heat oil over medium-high heat.

2) Add the bay leaf and saute for a few seconds.

3) Add the minced garlic and the onion, and saute till it starts to lightly brown.

4) Stir in the cumin and oregano, and saute another 15-20 seconds till fragrant.

5) Add the onion-herb mix to the pot of beans and stir well. Adjust seasoning and simmer for another 30-45 minutes, adjusting liquid as needed. (Mixture should not be dry nor soupy and runny.)

6) Can be served over rice / quinoa, or eaten by itself as a thick, hearty soup.

***NOTE: Substitute 4 (15 oz) cans of black beans for 1 lb dry. Drain 2 cans, but save the liquid separately. Saute all the ingredients above (except beans) in a stockpot. Then, add the 2 drained cans & 2 undrained cans of black beans and mix well. Adjust seasoning and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Add the reserved liquid if the mixture seems too dry.