Recipe: Black Bean Chili with Millet — A Spicy Vegan Twist on Classic Chili

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I’ll admit it: before going vegan, I pretty much thought millet was something that birds ate and people didn’t.

Boy was I missing out!

Millet is an amazing little grain.  Thought to have originated in North Africa and mentioned in the Bible as an ingredient in unleavened bread (Murray, Pizzorno & Pizzorno, 2005), millet is a good source of minerals including copper, phosphorous, magnesium (Millet, n.d.) and B vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and B6 (Murray et al., 2005).  Magnesium can be beneficial for people with atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease as it aids in lowering blood pressure and in enzymatic reactions related to glucose use and insulin secretionPhosphorous is an essential part of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the “currency” of cell energy, so eating millet could give you more zip! (Millet, n.d.).

The fiber found in grains such as millet is broken down by beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract into compounds called lignans.  Lignans are thought to have cancer-protective properties, especially against hormonally dependent cancers such as breast cancer.  Powerful antioxidant phenolic compounds are also released during the digestion of millet, giving this grain the same kind of free-radical-fighting power as fruits and vegetables (Millet, n.d.).  And since millet is gluten-free and largely hypoallergenic (Murray et al., 2005), pretty much anyone can enjoy it in recipes.

Like chili, for example.

black bean millet chili vegan

This recipe is sort of an amalgamation of my millet salsa bowls, the millet chili from Forks Over Knives - The Cookbook and various chili recipes I found via Google.  I find it kind of funny that, when I’m fixating on one or two ingredients, I tend to have a difficult time finding a recipe that uses them in the way I’m picturing.  Of course, that just gives me more of an excuse to noodle around in the kitchen!

I can’t say this is a terribly inventive chili recipe aside from the fact that it has millet in it.  It’s your basic chili mix: onions, garlic, bell peppers, diced tomatoes, corn and black beans.  The millet is cooked separately and added toward the end of the chili cooking time to keep it from sucking up all the liquid.  You can either mix it in at the end, as I’ve done here, or put it in your bowls and spoon the chili over the top.  Feel free to add other garnishes such as salsa or cubes of avocado!

Black Bean Chili with Millet
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4
  • 1 cup millet
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup bell peppers, any color, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2Tbsp chili powder
  • 2tsp cumin
  • pinch of oregano
  • 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes with the juices
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3 cups black beans or 2 15oz cans, drained and rinsed
  • lime juice, to taste
  1. Combine the millet and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  2. Place the onion and bell pepper in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, covered, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add splashes of water to the pan to keep the veggies from sticking if necessary.
  3. Add the garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, corn, beans and enough water to come just to the top of the mixture, but not cover it. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid and taste for spices, adding more if necessary. Simmer for 10 minutes more or until the desired consistency is reached. Stir in the lime juice and millet.
  5. To serve, divide between four bowls and garnish with nutritional yeast, if desired.
black bean millet chili

In other news, big changes are coming to QV next month!  As I’m coming to the last portion of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant program, I felt it was time to give the site a makeover and start adding information on what I’m going to be doing with everything I’ve learned.  It’s been a crazy busy time (as is evident by the fact that the blog has been terribly inactive), but I’m loving it and can’t wait to start working with people to help them transition to a plant-based diet.

Stay tuned for a new layout, more recipes, more reviews and (hopefully) a more regular posting schedule!

What would you like to see more of on QV?  Let me know!  I’m always up for suggestions.

Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., Pizzorno, L. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Simon and Schuster
Millet. (n.d.). World’s Healthiest Foods. Retrieved from

About The Author

Sam has been a vegan since summer of 2009 and has spent the subsequent years experimenting with all manner of vegan food. She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is a graduate of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program. She is a member of Toastmasters International and currently serves as Vice President Membership of the Capital View Toastmasters club. When she's not blogging or cooking, Sam likes to read, play silly card games and knit socks.

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