WARNING: the foods we cook for Abby are safe for her, but not necessarily for everyone. Please confirm any ingredients are safe for you before using in your diet. Food Allergies can kill and the best policy is complete avoidance. Read this post for more info.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Millet




Although Abby has never tested positive for celiac we went gluten free because gluten is notoriously hard to digest. Since her GI was destroyed we wanted to give her every advantage to heal up.

One of the huge benefits of going gluten free for us, is learning that there is a world of grains out there that can be way healthier for all of us.

Our quinoa trials were a huge failure- she simply could not digest quinoa -yet.

Last week after lots of reading I decided the next best grain/seed to try would be millet. Like many I have always associated millet with "bird food" something the birds eat or something only the hardcore vegan's eat- not something that could possibly be tasty or so perfectly loaded with nutrition for Abby. I read that it's glycemic index is higher so it is recommended that you combine with a protein for anyone eating grains to help keep the sugar balance.

Health Benefits (via WHFoods )
"Millet is more than just an interesting alternative to the more common grains. Our food ranking system qualified it as a good source of some very important nutrients, including manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium."

From Wikipedia-
"Millets, like sorghum, are predominantly starchy. The protein content is comparable to that of wheat and maize. Pearl and little millet are higher in fat, while finger millet contains the lowest fat. Barnyard millet has the lowest carbohydrate content and energy value. Millets are also relatively rich in iron and phosphorus. The bran layers of millets are good sources of B-complex vitamins. However, millets also feature high fiber content and poor digestibility of nutrients, which severely limit their value in nutrition and influence their consumer acceptability.[3]


Inspecting a pearl millet spike at a farm in Zimbabwe
Finger millet has the highest calcium content among all the foodgrains, but it is not highly assimilable.
The protein content in millet is very close to that of wheat; both provide about 11% protein by weight, on a dry matter basis.
Millets are rich in B vitamins (especially niacin, B6 and folic acid), calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Millets contain no gluten, so they are not suitable for raised bread. When combined with wheat (or xanthan gum for those who have celiac disease) they can be used for raised bread. Alone, they are suited for flatbread.
As none of the millets are closely related to wheat, they are appropriate foods for those with celiac disease or other forms of allergies/intolerance of wheat. However, millets are also a mild thyroid peroxidase inhibitor and probably should not be consumed in great quantities by those with thyroid disease."

So the downfall to adding millet is it is higher in fiber, and definitely something that could present a problem for Abby to digest. It also appears that despite it being a fairly nutritionally rich grain, our bodies aren't going to get as much of the benefit as we would hope.

I poked around a bit more trying to figure out the preparation method. I have decided that millet shouldn't be a staple or served in full servings to Abby, but that they do have value when it comes to increasing the ingredient list and making her food more interesting.

We decided to "brown" the millet first. I toasted it in a tablespoon of coconut oil. In theory, if you toast the hull first, when you boil it the cooking will be more even as well as more flavorful. Some directions recommend 2 to 1 for the water/broth ratio, but we found that 3 to 1 made it more creamy and tender.

She ate a couple tablespoons over all last week. No problems. I don't think we will be eating millet like we do Lundberg rice(rice pot every few days)but a nice treat now and then. We all loved the flavor-major bonus! It also seems to absorb the flavors of what you cook it in nicely. Millet flour might add another facet to baking gluten free. When I make her oatmeal free granola I can throw some millet into the mix as well now that we know she tolerates at least a bit now and then. The fiber content will likely prohibit us from making it a side for awhile yet, but adding a few tablespoons with other foods for interest is now on the list.

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