Millet: Gluten Free Fat Free Comfort Food

by Maria Theresa Maggi on March 27, 2013

almost coconut millet with potatoes and carrots, lemon and clove

Sometimes no matter how careful we think we’re being to steer clear of trouble, life is rough on us. Sometimes we need a nice warm bowl of something comforting and easy on the tummy. A bowl of something that is like putting on a soft flannel shirt, or cuddling up under a quilt. For me, that something is millet.

When I was in my 20’s I worked at a small press that was like the legal newspaper version of WKRP in Cincinnati.  Everyone was eccentric. Each day it was a miracle we met our noon deadline. The editor would spend the morning attempting to reheat his instant coffee in the microwave in the back shop where we typesetters and paste-up people worked. He never succeeded. He would run in, place his cold mug of java in the microwave, and dash off to pull headlines off the wire service or finish a news story. When he came back, the coffee was once again, inevitably, cold. He would taste it, wince, put it back in the microwave, and repeat the same comedy routine over again. And again. I doubt the man every had a sip of hot coffee. The publisher was an obsessive reaarranger of furniture and work spaces. If you were out sick for a day, or gone to an appointment, you would return to find your work space completely rearranged and “improved, ” with the publisher standing by waiting for you to thank him. It didn’t matter if you couldn’t find anything anymore.

It helped that  most of us really liked each other. We spent lots of time joking about our impossible work situation. I once had a particularly hard time on the phone with a subscriber who wanted an answer to her question late on a Friday afternoon when literally anyone who could possibly answer it was gone for the weekend. After explaining this to her in several different ways several different times, I finally said, “There’s no one here who can answer your question. Would you like me to make something up?” I really had to hold the phone a good foot away from my ear for several minutes after I made that slip.

To cheer myself up after such a stressful day, I would sometimes decide to begin it over again by having breakfast for dinner. In the very late seventies, omelettes were still the craze, so that meant an omelette and toast. Now when I want to have breakfast for dinner, I make something with millet. It’s every bit as comforting and ever so much more healthy than the eggs I used to eat.  It goes with nearly everything, whether savory or sweet: mushrooms, parsley, vegan “cheeze” sauce,  and, of course, winter squash and miso, as in my Midwinter Soy Free Miso Soup. Or if you really want to have a sweet breakfast, it’s great with bananas and almond milk, mangoes, blueberries, you name it.

Though we call millet a grain, it’s actually a small seed. Cultures in Africa and  Asia have long known about the nutritional wonders of millet, but here in the United States we are slow to catch on and use it mostly for bird seed. But millet is actually full of nutritional goodies. You can read about 12 health benefits of millet in this article at Real Food for Life.  Here are some of my favorite ones: it’s alkalizing and easy to digest. It hydrates your colon. It feeds microflora in your intestines. It’s high in magnesium and niacin.  It contains tryptophan which helps produce serotonin. And, it’s gluten free.

After I got over my Pinterest debaucle, I wandered around on it, clicking on things that looked good, on boards that had pinned my Midwinter Soy Free Miso Soup. And I found this gem at Roxane’s Natural Kitchen: Creamy Coconut Millet with Potatoes. Since I began eating this way, I follow Dr. Swank’s advice faithfully and do not eat coconut, which is high in saturated fat.  But it looked so good–and comforting–I determined to find a way to recreate it without the coconut milk. And I did.  Thanks to Roxanne for her wonderful recipe, and the inspired combination of lemon, ginger, garlic and cloves.


This slightly sweet, slightly spicy, slightly tangy dish of millety goodness has been a comfort mainstay for me the last few weeks. If I could think of a bowl of food that might be the equivalent of a hug, this would be it.


Maria (moonwatcher)




Leave a Comment

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nicole O'Shea March 28, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Oooh that looks YUMMY!!!

Maria, you made me laugh out loud with the WKRP in Cincinnati reference – that used to be one of my favorite shows!

I did not know all those wonderful things about the benefits of eating millet, either – looks like a great reason to add it back into my diet : )




2 moonwatcher March 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Thanks, Nicole, it was one of my favorite shows too!! And I feel like I also LIVED it!! Glad I gave you a good laugh out loud. And yes, millet is a great addition to the diet of us gut-sensitive people. 🙂




3 Momma G March 29, 2013 at 2:20 am

Just curious. Why did you not want to use coconut milk?


4 moonwatcher March 29, 2013 at 8:23 am

HI Momma G–thanks for your question. Coconut milk is extremely high in saturated fat. 12 grams of saturated fat in 1/3 cup of the canned stuff, for instance. Dr. Swank, who did the pioneering research on MS and diet, forbade coconut because of its high saturated fat content. For optimum results, he recommended 5 grams of saturated fat a day or less consumed in oil or high fat foods. I love coconut, but found his advice to be spot on if I wanted to feel better. So I don’t eat coconut products anymore. Hope that answers your question.



5 carollynne kelly March 29, 2013 at 3:16 am

sounds so good to me. I will be trying it out soon.


6 moonwatcher March 29, 2013 at 8:24 am

Thanks, carollynne!! Let me know if you try it out.



7 Lida April 4, 2013 at 3:48 pm

I am so glad I ran into you this afternoon at the Coop. This millet sounds so good, next time in town I will get some, cook it your way and sprinkle a whole bunch of fresh very young chives!
Thank you!


8 moonwatcher April 4, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Hi Lida,

I am glad we ran into each other too–Thanks so much for stopping by and reading my blog! Let me know how you like the millet. The chives are starting up in my yard too. That sounds like a nice topping.




9 Heidi Cusworth December 19, 2014 at 8:14 am


I’m trying to mix up my grains and seeds and have yet to dive into the marvolus millet seed!! It sounds great! I got a bit intimidated after looking online at basic cooking directions. So many of them recommend toasting the seeds before cooking. I was wondering if in the above recipe the seeds were already toasted, or if you find it’s not necessary? I love the idea of having a millet breakfast. 🙂


10 moonwatcher December 19, 2014 at 9:08 am

Hi Heidi,

Don’t let those directions about toasting millet intimidate you. It’s totally optional, but it’s very easy to do. All it means is that you heat the pan you are going to cook them in up first, and then add the millet–shake it around a little until you smell it, 30 seconds maybe, or a minute if the burner is not all that hot yet, and then add your liquid. That’s it. I hope you enjoy your adventures in millet for breakfast. 🙂


11 Heidi December 19, 2014 at 5:49 pm

ah, thank you for the tip, now I feel confidant in launching into my new project….millet power! 🙂


12 moonwatcher December 19, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Happy to help–and yes to millet power! 🙂


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