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!

69 Comments

  • I became a vegan about 12 months ago and I have found I have more energy for training. I run, do hot yoga (which I love), lift weights, go for bike walks and ride my bike around town. I try to move at least 4 times a week and I am on my feet running around at work all day too. I find that as long as I am sleeping well, drinking lots of water and eating lots of nuts, seeds, greens and grains my energy for training is really good. AND I have hardly had a cold all year where as I used to be sick constantly. When it is all working and in balance everything feels better, I sleep better, eat better and my body feels strong and light. Pretty good feeling actually. :)
  • Wow! This looks like my cup of tea :) I am a professional ballet dancer so my day involves a whole lot of exercise... I love nourishing my body with healthy, filling varieties of whole grains, bright, seasonal produce, nuts and different sources of Omegas...I absolutely feel the difference physically and mentally when I nourish my body properly...this is a beautiful post, I can't wait to give the recipe a go!
  • Aleksandra Peyrer-Na
    Oh! I wish I could exercise more.I spend a lot of time cooking for my family(3 kids with very good appetites) and the youngest is one so I haven't found the time to encorporate any exercise into my schedule. Before or in between each child I managed to do some yoga, pilates and running. I noticed how great I felt and how much energy i had so I guess I will come back to it. I'm not vegetarian or vegan(I eat fish occasionally and meat maybe once a month) but I noticed that I fell best eating mostly vegan(especially dairy products make me feel heavy). Thanks again for a very yet another inspiring recipe.
  • Very beautiful! I'm vegetarian and do yoga and cycle a lot around Berlin.
  • It's so strange to see all these winter foods as we slide towards summer but I could certainly mix it up a little. I think it is time to try millet.
  • Alicia
    I always wanted to do some type of exercise so I joined many gyms through the years but I never sticked to it. 3 years ago I discovered running outside in the fresh air. Why nobody told me that it is soooooo great! I absolutely love it now. First day I run for 10 min and I thought I was going to die (literally) but now I can run for 1h easily. Salad looks great, thanks for the recipe.
  • Nicky
    I agree - thanks for the important reminder and I'm sure I would have benefited from the long lecture too! I eat really healthily but DON'T exercise regularly and I go to sleep far TOO late! As a result, I'm generally tired and my immunity is low...and I end up spending lots of money going to see a naturopath to try and sort myself out. Exercise and sleep are such an obvious part of the equation (equal sides of the triangle?!), plus easy and cheap to achieve! Walks in the lovely bushy park opposite my house, yoga and biking to work are the best exercise for me. Have also recently discovered the pleasures of going on family runs through the park with our exuberant 4 yr old and equally exuberant neighbour's dog....lots of fun!
  • Other than some fairly regular walking about, I train capoeira, have done so for 5 years. At one point I used to do it 3 - 4 times a week but now I've eased back to 2 times a week. It's good stuff. I have been thinking about trying other things, though. It really does make a difference to the well-being, improving mood, fitness, health, appearance. :D
  • Salad looks great and I always forget about how much I love millet! I will have to try this. As far as exercise, my time is very limited as a commuting grad student but lately I have been enjoying interval training on the treadmill. Even when I'm really tired, by forcing myself to go really fast for 30 seconds it wakes you up and then you can cut your tread time in half.
  • Oh hey, have you seen or read that book "The First 20 Minutes" by Gretchen Reynolds? The beginning is a little slow, but toward the end there are a couple of eye-opening chapters on how bad sitting/inactivity is for our health and why. I thought it was really interesting, and maybe you would like it too! I think you make a great point and thank you for putting it out there. I hope more people will become aware of how important eating, sleep, and exercise ALL are. Seems many people I know only pay attention to one or two of the three! I don't have much to add on the favorite exercise conversation! I like yoga, walking our dog, hiking, and biking best.
    • Hi Sharon, no we haven't read it but we will see if we can get hold of it. Sounds very interesting! Thanks! /Luise
  • It looks so good! I'll try it for sure. And the main pic is beautiful :-)
  • I find I'm at my best when I've had plenty of kale, yoga, sleep and laughter. In my crazy, hectic life, I sometimes forget the positive health effects of happiness. And even though this salad has no kale, it looks gorgeous and delicious. Thanks for the inspiration!
    • Hi Elisabeth, kale would actually be a great addition in this salad. Only reason we didn't add it was because we just used kale in our last post :) But please do try it! /Luise
  • This looks fantastic. Ironically, I made something frighteningly similar today with quinoa, kale, butternut squash, hazelnuts, and pomegranate seeds so I know how good it must taste.
  • Karina
    This looks great! I love to rollerblade, walk, rock climb... And since becoming pregnant I have recently started a parental Pilates exercise! I almost always feel better after I have exercised and eaten good.
  • That sounds so delicious! I remember eating millet for breakfast when I was a kid - with honey drizzled over it. Is millet sold in most supermarkets or health food stores?
    • Hi Regressada, your breakfast millet sounds so good - we need to try that! You should be able to find millet in most larger supermarkets. And if not, you will definitely find it in health food stores. Good luck! /David
  • emily
    I can tell that this is going to be a new favorite recipe. So many good things in there (love the grapes!). All your photos are so fantastic!
  • Valeria
    Wow, this sounds so delicious!!! I like to jog and swim mostly, it's a real shame I can't do it as often as I'd like to (4th year of computer engineering isn't proving any easy hahaha). But no matter what, this salad sounds delicious not only for post workout but also for replenishing energy after long study/programming sessions. Will most definitely search for some time to make it :)
  • Beautiful as always! We might even be able to make this down here in the southern hemisphere with the last of the winter crop... fingers crossed.
  • Wow, can't wait to try this beautiful salad... And I totally agree with you guys about exercise/food/sleep all being important; it's so nice to have a good reminder! And it's running and yoga for me :)
  • Thank you for a great salad recipe. It's good to eat raw food even wintertime, so great inspiration. I'm also a big fan of exercise, running, capoeira, badminton, dance, work out, climbing, zumba...I have done it all. I'm not a vegetarian or vegan, rather omnivore but here at home we eat meat only 2 a week. I can't really feel my food habits affects my training, more that I feel it's important for me to eat every kind of food and don't train on an empty stomach neither to close after a meal.

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