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Food

Kechri (Millet): Gluten Free King of Cereals

There is a lot of discussion about cereals, their nutritional value and their value for weight loss. Recent trends in diets propose “banning the carbohydrates” and most of cereals are rich in them. But these diets do not tell you “what you miss” by omitting cereals from your diet. Micronutrients hidden in many cereals are the key to a healthy body and mind.

Even if it is not the most famous and well-known, millet can be said to be the king of cereals. Millet is mostly used as feed for singing birds and parrots (!), but in recent years it has made an impressive entrance in the ‘healthy food market.’

In China it has been cultivated for thousands of years, since it can be used as a substitute of rice. It is mostly cultivated in India and African countries, but it has a long history – thousands of years – in Greece also.

Since it is a gluten-free cereal, it can be used to make unleavened bread and pastries. In ancient Greece they use it to make a bread mixed with herbs like oregano, mint, thyme, and others, and it can be blended with honey and anise for a sweet taste. Hippocrates and Theophrastus wrote about the nutritional value of this cereal.

According to USDA, millet or ‘kechri’ in Greek, is a good source of protein (11%) and fiber (15-38% depending on variety) – even though it is rich in carbohydrates – but this is not its secret power. It is also rich in vitamins B, especially niacin, folic acid, and B6. Also, it has iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc. Many different antioxidant and antimicrobial substances raise kechri to the top of cereals. Much research has found that it can lower cholesterol and prevent many diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular illnesses, and cancer.

How do you eat it? If you buy it in the form of seeds, you can use it as a rice. Also, boiled for a sweet breakfast/lunch you can combine it with raisins, honey, cinnamon, and other dried or fresh fruits. If you buy ground seeds, you can use it as any flour, in cakes, bread, crepes etc. Note that it is not ‘inflated’ due to the lack of gluten, but you can place a small amount of flour in your recipe in order so that you can gain the nutrients and have a nice fluffy cake at the same time! A nice touch, especially for babies and pregnancy nutrition!

* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.

Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an Msc in Botany-Biology.

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