Millet & Pumpkin Winter Salad

We had written a long and admonishing post about exercise here. About how we can’t fool ourselves that we live healthy just because we eat well. We had written about how eating, exercising (and sleeping) all is nested together if you want to live longer, have a stronger immune system and more energy. How our recipes just is one part of the game. But then we erased it. It didn’t feel right to be all preachy.

Instead we wanted to simply hear if you do any sports and exercise (and what kind)? And, if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, do you feel that your eating habits affect your training?

Both Luise and I do anything from running, yoga, tennis and other sports, to functional training. The amount of training has, quite honestly, varied throughout the years. We didn’t exercise much when Elsa was newly born, but now our training has become a lot more frequent. And it really makes a difference. It’s not always easy to go out running or go to the gym, but it always always always feels great coming back. Especially if you have a nourishing salad waiting for you.

We have used millet in this salad. And although we use it in our home cooking often, we haven’t posted many millet recipes on the blog. It is a gluten free, easy digestible seed, high in minerals like manganese, magnesium and calcium. It is also high in iron and B-vitamins. When cooked it has a grain-like texture; very soft and creamy and similar to couscous. Here we have mixed it with a chunky herb dressing to increase the flavor. We also added roasted pumpkin to make the salad more nourishing, avocado for creaminess, grapes to make it sweeter and hazelnuts to give it some crunch. It has quickly become one of our favorite salads. We have made it several times in a few different versions. You can for example substitute the pumpkin for sweet potato or beetroot, and the pomegranate for cranberries.

Winter Millet Salad
Serves 4

1 cup (240 ml) raw millet (any color will work)
1 butternut squash
100 g raw hazelnuts
2 avocados, diced
1 small romanesco broccoli, broke into bite-size florets
2 handfuls purple grapes, cut in half
2 handfuls green leaves, we used beetroot leaves
1 pomegranate, seeds

Chunky Herb Dressing
1 handful basil, finely chopped
1 handful parsley, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
1/2 lemon, juice
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper 

Prepare the butternut by trimming off the top and bottom and cutting it in half crosswise and lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and remove the tough peel with a sharp knife or a peeler. Cut into 1 x 1-inch (2 x 2 cm) dices. Place on an oven tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sea salt. Bake on 400 F° (200°C) for 20-30 minutes or until soft and slightly brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

The last 10 minutes of baking time, place the hazelnut on a separate baking tray, sprinkle with salt and toast until skin cracks and browned. Remove and let cool slightly, rub between a rough cloth or kitchen towel to remove the skin. Chop coarsely.

Rinse the millet in a sieve with boiling water, then place in a small saucepan with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and let gently simmer for 10-15 minutes or until soft and the water is gone.

Prepare the avocados, romanesco, grapes, green leaves and pomegranate and Herb Dressing. Place the cooked millet in a large bowl, add the herb dressing and mix with your hands to make sure all millet is coated with dressing. Add all ingredients to the millet mixture and gently fold to combine. Serve!