Looking for an alternative to rice? It must be grain-free, you say? I’ve got just the thing for you. Millet has a neutral flavor, and the texture can be either chewy or soft, depending how you like it. It is not actually a grain, but a grain-like seed that becomes fluffy when cooked. Millet is a popular ingredient in Asian and African cuisine.
Millet is an alkaline food, which means it helps your body’s pH lean toward the alkaline side – which we want. Cancer thrives in an acidic environment, but it cannot survive in an alkaline one. Millet is one of the few grain-like foods that are alkaline.
When we start talking about pH, however, many people become confused. The reason is that there are some very healthy foods that also happen to lean towards the acidic end of the scale – for example, fruits and some vegetables. Does that mean we should never eat those foods? No, to avoid them would be to miss out on wonderful nutrients. The key is to create alkalinity whenever possible, and to create balance when you are eating a more acidic food.
Here’s an example. In this recipe, which is a beautiful blend of Creole flavors, we have a few ingredients that are on the acidic side: green olives and bell peppers. But it wouldn’t have that Creole pizazz if we took them out – and more importantly, we’d be missing out on their nutrients. HOWEVER…it is a very fortunate fact that many Creole dishes include celery, because celery is an alkaline food. And in this dish, we have lots of it. We also have a healthy portion of garlic and herbs in this dish, which are alkaline heavyweights.
There are many free charts online that show you whether foods are alkaline or acidic so that you can start balancing on your own. You will find that while some items vary slightly from list to list, in general the lists agree. You will also notice that meat and cheese are acidic. So is sugar. And, I’m sorry to say – so is coffee.
Here is a chart to get you started. As always, if you have any nutrition questions, just drop us a line here at Pink Kitchen.
Now that we’ve got all the science out of the way, let’s get to the fun! This colorful dish is bursting with flavor. Baby heirloom tomatoes add to this recipe’s Southern influence since they often include some greenish tomatoes (see photo). But if you don’t have those in your area, just substitute cherry tomatoes.
Feel free to crank up the heat (or lower it) as much as you like. But please be careful about adding salt – the olives are already salted, so you don’t want to overwhelm the dish. Wait until everything is cooked, then taste to see whether salt is needed at all.
Mardi Gras Millet
1 c. mini heirloom tomatoes (substitute cherry tomatoes if not available)
1 large red pepper
3 stalks celery + 1 small bunch of celery leaves
1 c. green olives with pimentos
5 cloves garlic
1 15 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 c. pureéd tomatoes
1 c. vegetable broth
1 tsp. creole seasoning (more or less to taste)
¼ tsp. ground red pepper (more or less to taste)
¼ tsp. allspice
1 tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. cumin
1 c. millet
3 c. water
olive oil for topping
Chop celery, pepper, and leeks. Reserve 1 small bunch of celery leaves.
Slice mini tomatoes in half and set aside.
In a large skillet, place olives, tomato sauce, vegetable broth, celery, pepper, and leeks. Mince garlic into the skillet. Add beans and all seasonings.
Cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer over low heat for 1 hour and 15 minutes, adding tomatoes during the last 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another pot, boil the water. Add the millet and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Turn off heat and keep covered until skillet portion is ready.
Place approximately ½ c. millet onto each plate. Top with the skillet mixture. Drizzle with olive oil.