Millet Porridge Recipe: A Nutritious Start to the Day

I have been transitioning away from traditional oatmeal and have discovered a wonderful alternative: Millet Porridge. This simple recipe is packed with nutrient dense, whole food energy.

Millet is a tiny-sized grain that is gluten-free and considered the only alkaline-forming grain. It can be cooked to be fluffy or as a more creamy, mushy texture.   With a nutty flavor, it can be enjoyed in both savory and sweet recipes. Major health benefits include:

*Good source of minerals iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, copper, phosphorous, magnesium, and manganese

*Good source of plant-based protein (15%) including essential amino acids methionine

*High source of dietary fiber

*Rich in B-complex vitamins including niacin, folacin, thiamin, and riboflavin

Millet*Rich in photochemicals including phytic acid, which is believed to lower cholesterol, and phytate, which is associated with reducing cancer risks

Note: millet should be consumed in moderation, especially for those with hypothyroidism conditions

Millet Porridge Recipe:

To enhance the digestibility and absorption of nutrients, it is recommended to soak the millet overnight in water (adding a small amount of lemon or apple cider vinegar with the soaking will further boost digestibility).

In a small sauce pan, add 1/3 cup millet (hulled and soaked) and 1 cup of water. Turn to medium heat and bring to a light boil. Once boiling, turn heat to low and continue cooking (without stirring). Within 3-5 minutes, most of the water will be absorbed. Depending on the texture you prefer, you can add more water for a more mushy texture. Remove from heat before all the water is absorbed. Stir and add additional ingredients to boost flavor profile.

My favorite way to enhance this porridge flavor is by adding raisins and 1 date to the boiling process. I often also add a tsp of grated orange rind. After cooking, I stir in fresh or frozen blueberries and a pinch of cinnamon. I finish it off with sliced banana and unsweetened dried coconut.

Recipe Tips:

*Most recipes suggest using varieties of milk to enhance the ‘creaminess’. I find using water is sufficient creating a soft ‘polenta-like’ consistency. If using a non-dairy milk, I encourage you to use hemp, rice, or coconut milk and to avoid almond milk. Almond milk and overall almond production is a major factor in the decline of bee colonies.

*Many recipes ‘roast’ the millet prior to boiling to enhance the nutty flavor. I do not do this step as I prefer to reduce cooking as much as possible to retain nutritional quality.

*Play with flavors and spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and orange rind.

*Add raw nuts (cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts) or seeds (hemp, ground flax, sun flower, pumpkin).

*Enjoy with fruit (apples, pears, peaches, berries, bananas,).

*I find adding 1 date in the cooking process offers plenty of sweetness, but you can add additional sweetening like maple syrup or coconut sugar.

Keep Your Tea Loose

Drinking herbal teas goes hand in hand for most people striving to optimize their health and wellness practices. Many people are aware that all teas are not created equal and that many tea lines contain pesticides, chemical flavorings and GMO ingredients.  Attempting to improve your tea quality by selecting 100% organic products can still leave you consuming harmful chemicals due to the type of bags with which you are brewing.

As reported from Food Babe’s Do You Know What’s Really in Your Tea? post:

“Many paper tea bags are treated with epichlorohydrin, a compound mainly used in the production of epoxy resins. Considered a potential carcinogen by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health2 (NIOSH), epichlorohydrin is also used as a pesticide. When epichlorohydrin comes in contact with water, it hydrolyzes to 3-MCPD, which has been shown to cause cancer in animals. It has also been implicated in infertility (it has a spermatoxic effect in male rats) and suppressed immune function.”

And for those choosing tea brands using the silk mesh bags, the chemical hazards continue. These tea bags are most commonly made from some form of plastic like nylon, some are made of viscose rayon, and others are made of thermoplastic, PVC or polypropylene. These bags, when exposed to boiling water, have the potential for molecular break down and leakage of harmful phthalates.

Ways to avoid these types of toxic chemicals:

Tea-Strainer*purchase only loose leaf tea

*use a stainless steel diffuser/strainer in glass, porcelain or stainless steel devices

*avoid pre-bagged teas (paper or plastic)

Also consider buying 100% organic teas made from 100% organic flavorings. The term ‘natural flavorings’ has become a vague and misleading term in the market place.  Unless the merchant is able to fully clarify the source of ‘natural ingredients’, avoid these variations of tea products. You can readily buy a basic organic tea and add your own organic flavorings (ie spices, citrus rind).  Finally, consider the source of your organic teas. Although the tea may be labeled ‘organic’, teas coming from other countries may not be as they claim.  Some countries have problems with standards and regulations of ‘organic’ labeling, thus may still contain pesticides and/or herbicides.

Purchasing loose leaf teas greatly reduces your potential exposure to chemicals and toxins.  They are often more cost effective than single serving products.  Loose leaf tea also reduces waste from packaging and makes it easier to throw used leaves in the compost.  Consume mindfully, keep your tea loose.

Vega One Change Giveaway

For many people, the New Year is about setting healthy intentions including improved nutrition habits. I have been a vegetarian for over a decade and an intentional vegan for about half of that time. Despite enjoying a plant-based diet, I have found that not all of my vegan food choices have been truly healthy (especially snacks). As part of Vega’s #OneChange challenge, I am focusing on tidying up my habit of being an unmindful “Serial Snacker”.  As well, I am sharing an exciting new Vega One giveaway (below).

While snacking between meals is considered a healthy, common practice, the choices we make can greatly effect our energy, mood, immune capacity, performance and more. To make a conscious effort to maximize the wellness benefits of my snacks, I am going to try to consistently integrate more keys choices:

  • make it myself – prepare cookies, crackers, dried fruit/nut packages, juices, and smoothies in advance so always on hand
  • prepare snacks full of whole, nutritiet-dense foods
  • incorporate raw food elements frequently
  • always carry my own snacks instead of succumbing to cravings
  • reduce salt and processed sweetners in snacks and main meals to reduce these ‘processed’ cravings and appreciate the natural flavour of whole foods

Here are some of my ‘go to’ recipes for powering up snacks and keeping my diet clean between meals:

Vega One French Vanilla smoothieGreen Boost Smoothie: in a Vitamix blend = 1 scoop Vega One French Vanilla Nutritional Shake, 2 fresh kale leaves (or handful of raw spinach), tsp of hemp hearts, tsp of flax seeds or chia, tsp of bee pollen granules, 1 frozen banana, half cup of frozen mango, slice of fresh ginger (about tsp worth), filtered water or chilled rooibos tea (just enough to blend while keeping the mixture thick).

Raw Orange Nut Cookies:  blend in a food processor = 1 cup of raw walnuts (presoak in water overnight, then dry), 3 or 4 medjool dates (pitted), zest of 1 organic orange, 1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut, 3 dried figs (or 1/4 cup of raisins), cinnamon and nutmeg (to your taste), 1/4 tsp of vanilla, pinch of sea salt … blend until you can form into balls (avoid over blending or oils will separate from walnuts) … roll into 2 inch balls, then lightly flatten … refrigerate to help them firm up and hold shape.

Raw Food recipesCoconut Energy Balls:  blend by hand or food processor = 1 cup of soft date paste (you can also use medjool dates), 2 tbsp of raw carob powder, 2 tbsp of hemp hearts … combine until well blended (mixture will feel sticky) … roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and roll in fine, unsweetened coconut until coated well … store in refrigerator … the mixture can act as a simple base where additional ingredients can be added including chopped raw nuts and superfoods like spirulina powder.

To allow new habits and patterns to take hold, many experts say it takes at least 21 days for solid adaptations to fully set in. I look forward to exploring other recipes and tips over these coming weeks and months. If you are looking to make significant changes to your nutrition habits, consider targeting one aspect of your diet first and focus on making just One Change.  Vega can help you narrow in on one dietary habit and, with tips and recipes, inspire you to make this change and turn it into a long term healthy pattern. Click to visit Vega’s One Change challenge.

Vega One Change Giveaway

Vega One French Vanilla ShakeAs part of the Vega One Change challenge, I am excited to be giving away to 1 lucky winner 1 Tub of Vega One and 1 box of sachets (Approx. Value $105).  To enter to win this great prize, leave a comment to the question below. For an additional entry, leave a comment on my Facebook entry post.

Entry Question: What nutrition changes have inspired you for 2014?

  • giveaway begins Jan 15, 2014 and ends Jan 22, 2014
  • no substitution for prize / can not be redeemed for cash value
  • for full giveaway details, please click here

New Thrive Forward Kitchen Edition: Inspiring Plant-Based Nutrition

I call myself an ‘intentional vegan’.  Overall, I aim to consume a balanced plant-based diet on a daily basis allowing for minor ‘exceptions’ when required.  Through thoughtful planning, I find this nutritional lifestyle easy to follow and highly rewarding.  Some of the rewards come from learning new foods and techniques that can readily replace conventional omnivore diets.  One new tool that I am excited to share is the new Thrive Kitchen Edition part of the Thrive Forward program.

Thrive Kitchen is a comprehensive, free online program that helps people explore the world of plant-based nutrition.  They emphasize gradual substitutions that, over time, can accumulate to make significant improvements in health and wellness.  Brendan Brazier (vegan triathlete and formulator of Vega), Peggy Kotsopoulos (holistic nutritionist extraordinaire and TV host) and other expert guests present educational and inspirational tips on making this transition smooth and enjoyable.

Thrive KitchenThe Thrive Kitchen program is delivered in multiple components allowing you to explore and learn at your own pace.  Their techniques and recommendations for making food substitutions are so easy and highly accessible.  Along with educational videos breaking down the concepts and reasoning for plant-based nutrition, Thrive Kitchen is also packed with incredible recipes.  Some of the recipe programs offer fantastic substitution lists helping you turn some of your favorite foods into nutrition-boosted meals and snacks.

Thrive Forward Kitchen

So why do I pursue a plant-based lifestyle?  Apart from following the yogic principle of ahimsa (non-violence), I strongly believe that plant-based nutrition supports my personal wellness goals.  Balanced plant-based nutrition is generally more alkaline-forming for the body helping reduce inflammation, boost energy, support immune function, and reduce the onset of chronic illness.  From an environmental perspective, following a plant-based diet (especially one that is organic and embraces home/locally grown products) can be one of the greatest ways of reducing consumption impact.

Check out the new, free Thrive Kitchen Edition as well as the many other Thrive Forward programs.  Whether you are a novice at plant-based nutrition or have been enjoying this lifestyle for a long period of time, everyone will greatly benefit from all the tips and guidance offered.