Carrying on in my converting to a wholefood pantry, I wanted to highlight Amaranth today. Amaranth is my new love. World health workers discovered amaranth when they noticed that areas of Africa and Latin America where it was highly consumed had no malnutrition. It is high in nutrients – in particular protein and calcium. In fact it has more calcium and cofactors for calcium’s absorption (magnesium and silicon) than milk, BAM! It’s also high in iron and is the only grain reported to have Vitamin C – cool!
It is gluten free, high in protein, and it contains all the amino acids, making it a complete protein.
It can be great for convalescence – when you are recovering from an illness, or for pregnant and breastfeeding mums who need that extra nutrition. Also, it’s great for kids in this way.
Think of it as a bit of a supercharger. If you are making something, see if you can add a bit of amaranth to it to boost it’s goods! In this way, you can really stretch it out.
If you can, soak your amaranth overnight first. Rinse, drain, and add to a saucepan with the ratio of about 1 3/4 cups water to a cup of grain. It should be slightly crunchy still, but will be soft inside. Cook over a low heat for 15 – 20 minutes.
Note: rinsing and draining a minuscule grain is a bit tricky! I used a nut milk bag, but if you don’t have one, you need quite a fine strainer, or a very patient nature… I found the strainer from the inside of one of my tea pots worked well too!What do I do with it?
Use amaranth in breads, cakes, soups, stews, in combination with other grains, in porridge, in salads.Did you know you can puff your own amaranth at home? I was pretty excited about this prospect, and I think I have worked out the best way.
How to Puff Amaranth
Take a small saucepan with a lid (not a frypan – I tried this first – amaranth EVERYWHERE!). Put the saucepan over high heat and add just 1/2 tablespoon of amaranth grain to the pan. You won’t need any oil. It should start popping within about three seconds, whereby you quickly pop the lid on and shake the pan around. You have to work fast as the amaranth will burn quite quickly. The whole process takes less than 30 seconds.
Take it straight off the heat and transfer to a bowl. Taste it. Get excited. And then do another batch if you need more. It’s best to just add small amounts at a time to prevent the whole burning thing.
I don’t normally advocate puffed grains as they are processed at such high temperatures it does interfere with the nutritional factors, but I couldn’t resist doing this as a treat!
Once I saw my puffed amaranth, I was immediately reminded of this fabulous Berry Bodacious Mix – brainchild of the wonderful Catie at The Staple Store in Melbourne. Have a look at it! Fairy dust for porridge I tell you. Anyway, I thought of this, then I thought of chocolate buckinis as mentioned last post, and then surely I can do something with amaranth too! So I made a Chocolate Buckwheat and Amaranth Boanza!
This is the deluxe version with goji berries and cacao nibs – fancy!
Chocolate Buckwheat and Amaranth Bonanza
4 tablespoons of buckwheat, soaked if you can
4 tablespoons puffed amaranth
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 – 1 tsp raw cacao powder
A pinch of sea salt
Optional extras: gojis, cacao nibs, coconut flakes
Combine the coconut oil, cacao and maple syrup. Add the buckwheat and stir to coat. Place on a lined baking tray and into the oven at the lowest temperature until the buckwheat is crunchy. Once cool, combine with all other ingredients.
I use this to top porridge, other cereals, smoothies, fruit, and my daughter just eats it straight up.
I also made this amaranth carrot cake (Jude Blereau’s recipe), and added the grain straight into my pumpkin soup.
If you want a delicious recipe to try it out, check out this pumpkin pie amaranth porridge from My New Roots – amazing!
p.s. If you would like to see a few things that I have been up to, check out the hilarious Stacey and the post I did for her fab site Veggie Mama on healthy snacks for kids. I was also lucky enough to contribute two recipes to Sarah Wilson’s new Chocolate Cookbook, which I will post properly on shortly when we cover sweeteners – but you can check it out from the link in the side bar in the mean time if you like. x