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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Millet a tasty alternative to meat

By Carol Devenot

How many times have we heard that everything happens for a reason? Some of us say yeah, and half believe it until you see that it really is the way it is. My boyfriend is very motivated to try a healthier diet to improve his health and energy level. We went to see Dr. Terry Shintani, who has been known throughout Hawai'i as the "nutrition guru" who has helped many people change their way of eating by putting them on a vegetarian diet. I helped him develop recipes for this program and other books that he has written: "Eat More, Weigh Less Diet," "Dr. Shintani's Hawaii Diet Cookbook" and "The Carbohydrate Revolution." I am grateful to him for all his expert training and now his medical advice for my boyfriend, Bob.

A good friend of mine, Alyssa Moreau, a personal chef who teaches healthy cooking classes at Kapi'olani Community College, shared the following recipe with me. I made it the other night, and Bob loved it. It is quite easy to make, and the millet makes a very tasty and unusual alternative to meat.

I remember reading about millet in the Bible. It is one of the oldest cereals to be used. The Africans, Indians and Chinese have been using this grain as a staple at least since 2700 B.C. The early Swiss lake dwellers are documented as growing it during the Stone Age.

Today, millet is ranked as the sixth most important grain in the world, sustaining the diets of people in northern China, Japan, Manchuria, areas of the the Soviet Union, Africa, India Egypt and the remote Himalayan foothills (home of the Hunza). The Hunza, who are known for their excellent health and longevity, use millet as their staple. Back in 1875, the early American colonists consumed it, but corn became more popular. Just recently, it has made a comeback in natural foods circles.

Millet is a tasty, mildly sweet, nutty-flavored grain with many nutrients: protein (15 percent), fiber, B complex vitamins, essential amino acids methionine, lecithin and some vitamin E. It is also high in minerals: iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.

Here's Moreau's recipe.

A hint: To more easily peel kabocha pumpkin, put the whole thing in the microwave and microwave five minutes, turn and microwave again for five minutes. Cool, and it will be easier to cut and peel.


• 1 cup uncooked millet (can be found at any health food store)

• 2 1/2 cups water or vegetarian or chicken-flavored broth

• 1/2 cup sweet onion, finely chopped

• 2 cups kabocha pumpkin, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

• 2 tablespoons oil (safflower, canola or coconut) or as needed to brown the patties

Rinse millet and drain in a wire strainer. Place millet in a medium saucepan; add water, onion, kabocha, cumin and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is completely absorbed. Cool. Shape the mixture into 8 patties. Heat oil in a skillet (nonstick or cast iron are easier to work with) and cook over medium heat until golden brown on the bottom. Turn patties over and cook the other side. Serve plain or with peanut sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

• Per serving (with peanut sauce below): 370 calories, 17 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 450 mg sodium, 47 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 9 g protein


• 1/4 cup low-fat peanut butter or tahini (sesame butter)

• 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

• 1 teaspoon lemon juice

• 1/3- 1/2 cup water

• 1-2 cloves garlic, minced

• Dash of cayenne

Blend in bowl or blender until smooth.

Want a local recipe lightened up? Write Light & Local, Taste Section, The Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802 or e-mail taste@honoluluadvertiser.com. Carol Devenot is a Kaimukī-raised teacher and recipe consultant, and author of "Global Light Cuisine" (Blue Sea Publishing Publishing, paper, 2008). Cookbooks and e-books available at bookstores and Web site: www.globallightcuisine.net.