Winter cravings are not unusual as our body demands comfort food when the mercury drops. However, eating junk and processed foods can do more harm than good, putting us at risk of digestive issues and constipation. Comfort food doesn’t have to be unhealthy, and you can always swap ingredients of your favourite snacks with more nutritious alternatives. For instance, maggi, pasta, noodles, samosa, gajar ka halwa are among the mouthwatering high-calorie foods that are popularly indulged during this time of the year. You can always use grains that are high in protein, fibre and essential nutrients compared to the ones that raise your blood sugar and put you at risk of diabetes. Millets are increasingly gaining popularity due to their impressive nutritional profile. They are a storehouse of calcium, iron, zinc, lipids, and high-quality proteins.

Millets are increasingly gaining popularity due to their impressive nutritional profile.(Pinterest)

“During winter season, we all tend to crave for hot spicy junk foods and drinks with empty calories which causes bloating, gastritis and food poisoning. In view of a healthy alternative, millets and whole grains are one of the best cereals that can be altered for refined cereals. They are high in thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B- complex vitamins and soluble fibre that promotes cardioprotective activity, prevents sugar spikes and obesity,” says Haripriya. N, Executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Chennai, T Nagar.

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Haripriya N share healthy and lip-smacking millet pasta recipes you can relish this winter:

1. DESI MIX VEGGIE MILLET PASTA

Serving size for 2

Ingredients

Millet pasta (multi millet)- 120g

Olive oil- 2 tbsp (for dressing)

Cumin seeds- 1 tsp

Garlic- 8 pods

Ginger- small piece

Salt as required

Cooking oil- 10 ml

Kashmiri red chilli- 2 tsp

Turmeric- ¼ tsp

Garam masala- 1 tsp

Kasuri methi – as required

Tomato pureed – 1 small cup

Vegetables: Onion, tomato, carrot, capsicum, pumpkins (grated)- 50g each

Method

Boil the millet pasta with little salt in the water and stir on a medium flame for 8-10 minutes until its cooked soft. Once it’s done, filter the water and keep it aside.

For masala:

  • Heat oil in the pan and add cumin seeds, garlic and ginger. Saute for a minute.
  • Then add chopped onions till it turns golden brown, then add the chopped vegetables (carrot, capsicum, corn and grated pumpkins) and saute for 2 minutes.
  • Now add salt and spices (Red chilli powder, garam masala, coriander powder, turmeric) give it a good stir.
  • Once the raw smell of masala is gone, add the tomato puree and mix it until the mixture blends and turn out as a thick paste.
  • Cook for few minutes until the masala becomes saucy and aromatic. Add kasuri methi and mix well.
  • Finally add the boiled multi millet pasta and give it a good mix.
  • Sprinkle some hot water and mix till the masala gets blended with the pasta. Add few drops of olive oil finally and serve hot.

2. HEALTHY PEARL MILLET FUSILLI GREEN PASTA

Serving size for 2

Ingredients

Pasta

Pearl millet pasta- 120 g

Oil- 1 tbsp

Chopped garlic cloves- 2 no

Cherry tomatoes- 5-6 small

Broccoli- (boiled ½ cup)

Micro greens- fistful for garnishing

Pesto

Spinach- ½ cup

Green peas boiled (1/2 cup)

Garlic- 4 no

Walnuts- ¼ cup

Lemon juice- 30 ml

Shredded cheese- ½ cup

Salt as required and olive oil

Method

  • Boil the pearl millet pasta with little salt in the water and stir on a medium flame for 8-10 minutes until its cooked soft. Once it’s cooked, filter the water and keep it aside.
  • To a food processor, add spinach, peas, garlic, walnuts, lemon juice, cheese and salt, blend it to a smooth paste. Add water or oil to adjust the consistency.
  • In a pan, add oil heat it, then add garlic and cherry tomatoes. Saute well. Then add the cooked pasta and toss it well.
  • Transfer it to a serving bowl and add the pesto paste mix it then garnish with grated cheese, crushed peanuts, pepper powder (optional) and parsley.

3. PROTEIN RICH MILLET WHITE PASTA

Serving size- 3

Ingredients

Barnyard millet pasta (macaroni)- 120g

Onion- 1 cup

Garlic- minced (1 tbsp)

Capsicum- finely chopped 1no

Cherry/big tomatoes- 3-4/ 2no

Spinach leaves- 60g

Olive oil- 1 tbsp

Salt as required

Parsley, thyme, oregano as required

Chicken stock- 150 ml

Low fat cream- 100 ml

Cooked shredded chicken- 1 cup

Cheddar cheese- grated 50g

Method

  • Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
  • Boil the barnyard millet pasta with little salt in the water and stir on a medium flame for 8-10 minutes until it’s cook well. Once it’s cooked, filter the water and keep it aside.
  • In a pan, heat the oil, add onion, cook for few minutes and garlic, capsicum. Then add tomato paste and oregano mix and stir for few minutes.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and chicken stock and simmer it allowing it to boil. Add spinach and continue stirring. Add salt and modify the taste accordingly.
  • Add the chicken, cooked pasta and combine them then transfer it to large baking dish.
  • Top with the grated cheese, place the baking dish in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Serve hot with some seasoning mix.

4. BLACK BEANS MILLET PENNE

Millet penne pasta- 120g

Vegetables:

Mushrooms sliced- 5 no

Green pepper- ½ sliced

Fresh carrots- 2 sliced

Zucchini- ½ sliced

Onion- 1 diced

Garlic cloves- minced small

Purple cabbage- ½ sliced

Pasta seasoning mix- 1 tbsp

Salt as required

Pepper crushed- 1 tbsp

Olive oil- 1 tbsp

Black beans- 1 cup (hard boiled)

Grated cheese- ½ cup

Microgreens for garnishing

Method

  • Boil the penne millet with little salt in the water and stir on a medium flame for 8-10 minutes until it’s cooked well. Once it’s cooked, filter the water and keep it aside.
  • Then boil the soaked black beans and keep it separately.
  • In a large sautéing pan add all the vegetables and seasonings, onion and garlic with half tbsp of oil and cook until it’s crisp and tender.
  • Once the aroma of vegetables and masalas gets released then add boiled black beans toss it nicely. Add some grated cheese on top of it and serve hot.

5. FRESH RED BEETROOT PASTA

Servings for 2 nos

Ingredients

Multi millet pasta – 120 g

Garlic – 5 pods

Red chillies- 3 no

Tomato- 1 no

Onion- 1 no

Beetroot- ½ no

Sesame seeds- 2 tsp

Oil- 10 ml

Salt as required

Seasoning mix as required

Method

  • In a pan, heat oil and sauté garlic, onion, red chillies, tomato, and beetroot for 2-3 minutes. Then add this mixture to the food processor and make it as a smooth paste.
  • Boil the multi-millet pasta with little salt in the water and stir on a medium flame for 8-10 minutes until it’s cooked nicely. Once it’s cooked, filter the water and keep it aside.
  • Then add the red sauce to the same pan with the boiled pasta, mix it for few minutes. Sprinkle sesame seeds and microgreens on top of it and serve hot.