Easy Millet and Red Pepper Pilaf

Well, it’s certainly been a poster week for “Beginning of the Summer Semester” at the college:  long lineups outside the Chair’s office (but really, doesn’t it sound better as “Office Chairs”?), students transferring from one class to the next, questions, emails; scheduling changes so speedy that students barely have time to check their timetables before they’re registered in a new course. Yep, it’s kept me on my toes, with nary a minute extra to indulge my extra-curricular activities (really, now! Get those minds out of the gutter!). Activities such as writing this blog.  (Oh, and to all my students this term: Hi, Guys!)

Taking part in my Total Health course hasn’t actually helped much with the dearth of spare time, either.  Now, don’t get me wrong; I am loving this course, and it’s kept me on the Path of Righteous Eating for the past 2-1/2 weeks (and I must admit, I am feeling MUCH more energetic and lighter so far).

Apart from our homework (see the Coda at the end of the post), the course requires that one prepare and eat healthy food.  No, I mean ÜBER healthy food–the type I learned at nutrition school:  nothing pre-packaged, nothing processed, nothing with chemicals, additives, sugar, wheat (or even flour, if I’m going to be really strict about it), nothing alcoholic, and, perhaps most difficult of all, nothing chocolate.  (Yep, that’s right; those muffins and cupcakes I wrote about last time?  Verboten.  Banned. Prohibited. Technically not allowed.  So was it lack of willpower or courageous defiance that prompted me to bake them?  I’ll let you be the judge.)

What this directive translates to, for the most part, is spending more time in the kitchen.  More time peeling parsnips, more time scooping seeds out of butternut squash, more time cutting leaves from collard stems, more time dicing onions, more time chopping, slicing, sautéeing, stirring, simmering, pouring, spreading, baking, cutting.  The only part that doesn’t take more time is eating.

Well, for those of you who’ve been visiting this blog for a while, you may have inferred that, when it comes to cooking, I’m all about “easy.”  As much as I relish veggies, whole grains, dried beans or legumes and raw nuts and seeds, I am less than enthusiastic about the time required to transform those raw materials into something worth its all-natural, unrefined, organic, hand-harvested, Artisanal Celtic sea salt.

The other night, having spent the day on campus, I got home a little later than usual.  I was hungry. In fact, I was ready to eat dinner right that very minute.  But dinner, unfortunately, was not ready for me.  Perusing the contents of the fridge and considering what I could throw together that would satisfy both me and the HH, I came up with this lovely millet and pepper dish.

My health course has been highlighting gluten-free grains, and millet is a definite winner in that category.  Great for heart health and (like all whole grains) ample in fiber, millet also offers antioxidant properties at par with, or superior to, many fruits and vegetables (such as helping prevent breast cancer, Type II diabetes, asthma or postmenopausal symptoms).  Finally, it’s generally considered to be the “most alkaline” of whole grains, meaning that it supports the natural pH (acid-alkaline) balance in our blood.

For most of you, this would likely serve as a sidekick to a separate main attraction (whether tofu, tempeh, meat, or whatever).  For me, it ended up as the entire meal, though I’d caution that this really isn’t protein-rich enough to use that way very often.

The best part was that it came together quickly, and still tasted great.  The combination of mild curry and coconut milk adds an Asian undertone to the dish, complimented by the sweetness in the red peppers.  When the veggies are combined in a casserole dish with the grain, the millet becomes imbued with a lovely golden color that’s a great visual counterpoint to the red.  Pretty to look at, pleasingly aromatic and ready in a flash–it’s the perfect date side dish!

With its peppers and fresh basil, this is a great submission to Kalyn’s Weekend Herb Blogging event, started at Kalyn’s Kitchen and this week hosted by Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska.

Total Health Coda: This week’s lesson involved, once again, eating mindfully.  We actually did the “eating a raisin” meditation that I mentioned in a previous post.  The major insight for me, though, was delivered through an exercise we did at the end of the class (after we’d sampled at least four delectable, healthy dishes).  We were asked to tune in to our bodies to seek any lingering sense of hunger, and, if so, to determine where it resided.  Many in the class identified a metaphorical “hunger,” somewhere in the chest, or vicinity of the heart.  As the teacher remarked, “You may feel as if you’ve eaten enough, yet still feel hungry.”  In other words, this is clearly not a hunger for food per se.

For some reason, I found this realization revelatory:  What? You mean it’s okay to just feel hungry, and not do anything about it? You don’t have to eat when you feel that way?  Of course, I’d encountered similar sentiments over the years in books, on websites, or at lectures, but somehow honing in on the exact spot of the “hunger” made it abundantly clear that eating, in so many cases, is used to satisfy emotional yearning as well as physical appetite.

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Comments

  1. You remind me that I need to try millet, it looks so delicious as a pilaf!

    Glad to hear the course is making you feel more energetic. Despite all that darned healthy food. ;-)

  2. Yikes, you’re certainly busy!! Keep up your energy with the Total Health course, for sure!

    Millet pilaf – love it!! Looks like an easy, flavorful dish.

  3. If that class ever comes to the Boston area, pleeeeeease let me know. It sounds so darn cool!

    I have yet to eat millet as a whole grain; I’ve used it in it’s flour form and like it a lot. I can’t wait to make this one. Yum. I love that you used coconut milk and curry.

  4. Millet is one of my absolute favorite grains. I just made some the other night, and your post has given me some great new ideas for nights to come.
    Your course sounds great. I would love to get involved in something like that, especially if it has the added side effect of having more energy and feeling great!

  5. Very interesting post. Millet is one of the grains on my “must try” list. This sounds like a delicious way to cook it.

  6. Courtney says:

    Millet is great–I don’t use it enough. Thanks for a delicious sounding recipe to inspire me to dig it out of my cupboard!

    You sound very busy! Do you really tell your students about your blog so that they can go check it out?! You would be such an awesome professor! Your students are very lucky!!

    Courtney

  7. I have rarely used millet. Your recipe sounds great and has inspired me to use it soon. Thanks!

  8. I love your idea to try the cereal hot (I’m thinking that heating it up will make the bananas caramelize… and there’s nothing better than caramelized bananas!).

    P.S. I made your carrot pate— wow is it ever good!!! (Why am I surprised? I KNEW you were a great chef!)

  9. I don’t mind the chopping up lots of veggies but I confess to not liking to follow rulebooks where food is concerned – just feels like too much work! I think I would like to try this sort of pilaf with my millet – might give me a new perspective on it as I am still getting to know the grain.

  10. Romina,
    It’s definitely worth trying–a very mild grain that can be flavored in so many ways. But it IS darned healthy! ;)

    VeggieGirl,
    Thanks! Easy and good–nothing better than that! (Though of course these days you’d have time for more complicated things–lucky you!)

    Lizzie,
    I’ll tell my teacher she’s got a waiting student in Boston! I’d recommend giving the whole grain a try–you can use it anywhere you’d use rice (except millet cooks faster–yay!)

    healthyceliac,
    Thanks so much! I am really enjoying the course, though I have to admit it took a lot of time to get me there. And then I ask myself why I waited!

    Kalyn,
    Thanks! Definitely worth a try (even plain)–it’s a really versatile grain.

    Courtney,
    Thanks! Yes, I did tell the students about the blog; we’ll see how they feel about it! ( But, um, perhaps you’d like to send that comment as an email to the class??) ;)

    Laurel,
    I think you’ll find it very easy to use–it’s quick and also very mild in flavor, so it can be used in many different ways.

    CCV,
    Once you said “Cream of Wheat,” I thought, “hot.” Mmm! Will let you know when I try it out. And SO glad you liked the pate! It’s actually another breakfast favorite of mine. :)

    Johanna,
    Sounds like we could cook up a storm in the same kitchen–you do all the chopping/prep and I’m happy to follow instructions! I’ve been making an effort to use millet more lately, as it’s so healthy and I also don’t use it very much. I think next time I’ll have to do something sweet.

  11. If I had some millet, I’d be making this for breakfast right about now. This is a great dish, and thanks so much for entering it in Weekend Herb Blogging!

  12. I love millet! Yum! I love it for breakfast, lunch, dinner- whatever!
    And I can really relate to your observations about the feeling hunger VS. being hungry. I think we sometimes forget that not all is satisfied by the taking in, but the reflecting on…

  13. I do love millet and this sounds like a perfect way to enjoy it. Your grain recipes always get my attention.

  14. your recipe doesn’t mention millet as an ingredient–quantity?

  15. Susan,
    Thanks for pointing this out! Nothing like leaving out the major ingredient ;) . I’ve fixed it now!

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