“Let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food”. -Hippocrates
Growing up as a kid in India, my daily diet reflected this simple philosophy. We ate our food according to the needs of our bodies. Eating seasonal food automatically took care of the body’s nutritional requirements for that season. I also remember a number of my mom’s home remedies to common ailments – Sore throat? Honey with turmeric. Upset stomach? Bitter green juice. Food was indeed our medicine. From what I read and hear about the food culture in the western world a few decades ago, it wasn’t much different from India. It can not be a coincidence then, how the “factory food” culture has dragged in the same problems to India as it did in the western world.
As corporate farming and processed food industries get bigger and stronger, they are increasingly focused on more profitability. There are so many grains, vegetables, fruits and seeds which never appear in the processed foods because they are harder to grow, harder to store, or are simply not profitable enough. Before eating local and seasonal became trendy, it was a need of the time. You could only eat what was available during the season because of the lack of storage facilities, and the absence of chemically induced availability of all foods, all year long.
One of the biggest problems with processed or factory food is that it limits the variation in what we eat. I have been there, done that. Wednesdays were CiCi’s all-you-can-eat pizza nights. Friday’s were for Fuddruckers half pound burgers. Even people who are conscious about eating fresh and healthy are sometimes in a rut – eating the same foods every week.
For me, it all starts at the grocery stores. If you buy your groceries at the same supermarkets, you might want to make that trip to the Farmers’ market or the specialty foods store you have been thinking about but never had the time to visit. Maybe check out that bulk foods aisle at your store. You might be surprised at what amazing ingredients you have been missing out on!
My quest for healthy ingredients has brought me to Millet this week! Despite the fact that millet is more nutritious than wheat, as well as other gluten-free grains, it has been hard to grow on a large scale. Millet is a gluten-free alternative to the common grains and has a texture similar to couscous when cooked. It is a good source of some very important nutrients including copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium. Millet will help you have a healthier heart and reduce your risk to diabetes and prevent gallstones. I can go on and on about the benefits of Millet!
I have used millet with roasted root vegetables. This is a hearty salad which easily is your whole meal. The lemony cilantro dressing pairs well with the sweetness of the roasted root vegetables. I have added pomegranate seeds for some crunch and color. This is one of my absolute favorite winter salads! Hope you enjoy it!
Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Millet
1 cup raw millet
2 cups of water/broth
1 tbsp of salt
3 cups root vegetables of your choice – peeled, diced (sweet potato, carrot, golden beet, purple potato, celery root, parsnip, rutabaga, turnip, yam)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 cup dill/mint/basil leaves, chopped
5 radish – sliced
1 pomegranate seeds
salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Wash, peel and cut the root vegetables in small cubes. Mix vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet without overcrowding. Roast them for 15- 20 minutes until cooked through and lightly caramelized.
Heat a large saucepan on medium heat. Toast the raw millet for 5 minutes until fragrant and start making a popping sound. Add 2 cups of water in the saucepan carefully and season with salt. Give a good stir. Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for about 15 minutes until all the liquid get absorbed. Removed from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Now, fluff the cooked millet with fork, and taste for seasoning.
Add roasted vegetables, chopped herbs, slices of radishes and pomegranate seeds to the cooked millet. Add cilantro lemon dressing and mix well. Serve hot or cold!
Cilantro Lemon Dressing
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp honey – optional
salt & pepper
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth consistency. Taste for seasoning.