Millet Breakfast Bars / momskitchenhandbook

Meet “Miss January,” that’s what I’m calling millet, the tiny grain that is our first feature in A Year of Whole Grains. It’s my year-long study of grains where I’ll be showcasing a different one each month, so that by the close of 2014 we’ll all have a better handle on the nutritional and culinary upsides of these nourishing foods.

A Year of Whole Grains / momskitchenhandbookIf millet looks at all familiar to you, perhaps it’s because you’ve fed it to the birds in your backyard. Millet is a common ingredient in birdseed, though don’t go buying your grain in a pet store since it’s processed differently than millet meant for human consumption.

While millet might be a relative newcomer to American kitchens, it’s widely used throughout Asia and parts of Africa. Aside from being super affordable, millet holds appeal for its quick cooking time and mild, nutty flavor that lends itself to both sweet and savory preparations.  From a nutrition standpoint, millet is a gluten-free grain that is high in fiber and magnesium, and offers a dose of  B vitamins, protein, and iron.

I’ve been having far too much fun in the kitchen these past few weeks boning up on all things millet. Along the way, I’ve found a few preferred preparations:

  • Cooked on the stovetop into a creamy, savory porridge that can sub in for polenta or mashed potatoes as with this recipe for Millet with Cheese and Chives from Food 52. I topped it with wilted kale for lunch one day and served it alongside grilled flank steak for dinner the next. Delicious.
  • Used warm or cold in simple grain salads, much like you might use quinoa or rice, such as this pretty Millet Salad with Corn and Avocado from Cooking Light.
  • Worked into quick breads and muffins such as this recipe for Buttermilk Millet Muffins,which uses both millet and millet flour.

But my favorite use for millet is as the backbone for homemade granola bars as is the case with today’s recipe. These Genmaicha Granola Bars come from the pages of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for any Eater and Every Appetite, the beautiful new cookbook by my friend Sarah Copeland.

feast the cookbook /

Since we’re talking whole grains, I don’t know many food writers who work magic with grains in the way that Sarah does. Besides these granola bars, her book showcases amaranth in a peanut butter cookie that will knock your socks off, farro in a winter salad that my oldest is still talking about, four-grain English muffins that puts Thomas’ to shame, and barley in an inspired risotto good enough for company.

Millet Breakfast Bars / momskitchenhandbook

But  back to the bars. They’re a combination of  millet, oats, nuts, and seeds, bound together with dates, honey and maple syrup. The result is a bar that does just what a granola bar should do: sustain you. It’s the sort of portable goodness to ply into a child’s hand as they race out the door without breakfast in their belly, wrap in parchment and tuck into a pocket for a day on the slopes, or pack into a carry-on for a long flight.

So go stock up on millet. Make these bars. Experiment. Explore. Report back if you stumble upon a millet recipe worth trying.

It’s a Year of Whole Grains, people.

Crowd goes wild.

Millet Breakfast Bars / Feast Cookbook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Feast from the publisher. All opinions expressed are completely my own. 


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  1. 01.20.2014 at 9:56 PM #

    Looks too good and tempting.. thanks for the recipe!!

  2. Valerie
    01.21.2014 at 6:36 AM #

    Is this a chewy or crunchy granola bar?

    • katiemorford
      01.21.2014 at 7:45 AM #

      I’d say it’s a little of both. Crunchy on the outside with a little chewiness inside. Cook it a little longer and you’ll get more crunch.

  3. 01.21.2014 at 7:43 AM #

    I love this! I have millet in my pantry, but I always seem to forget about it. And I never would have thought to use it in a granola bar. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • katiemorford
      01.21.2014 at 9:01 AM #

      I’d really only used oats in my granola bars in the past, but millet adds a nice texture.

  4. 01.21.2014 at 12:11 PM #

    Thanks Katie. I will be trying this for Lily’s “nut free” snack at school and substitute the pecans & almonds.

    • katiemorford
      01.21.2014 at 2:18 PM #

      Seeds are the new nuts!

  5. Sandra Lea
    01.25.2014 at 10:46 AM #

    I made these today and they are delicious however they started to crumble as soon as I started to lift them from the pan and more so when I tried to cut them. Although they are certainly edible I was hoping to have a bar that I could take with me. I followed the directions exactly. Any suggestions?

  6. 01.26.2014 at 3:30 PM #

    Just picked up the final ingredient (genmaicha) to make these bars! Can’t wait to try them. I’ve loved baking with millet ever since I tried it in banana bread. It has an addictive crunch.

    • katiemorford
      01.26.2014 at 11:08 PM #

      I agree Kate. I’m looking forward to more experimentation.

  7. 01.28.2014 at 10:00 AM #

    I love granola bars like this- they feel so hearty and healthy, and I am obsessed with the fact that they have caffeine!

  8. 04.07.2014 at 1:19 AM #

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  9. Romy
    04.17.2014 at 10:31 AM #

    Hi! I just found your blog through foodlets and am loving some of your ideas! I have not come across a millet recipe in a long time! Many years ago, I made an attempt at being a vegetarian. Vegetarian Times used millet to make a “meatball.” Unfortunately I do not have the recipe anymore, but it was similar to a regular meatball, but using milliet, cooked, as the “meat.” They were delicious! So, if you’d like to try and re-invent this idea, I’d love to see the recipe.


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    […] love fully loaded granola bars like these […]

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    […] want to make homemade granola bars. These have caffeine in them, so there’s that. (And I’m so coveting the Feast cookbook. […]

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