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Why You Should Eat Amaranth

February 20 2012 - 9:57 AM

Amaranth is one of the lesser-known grains out there, but that doesn’t make it any less amazing. It is an extremely small grain that looks a bit like quinoa but even more petite. Some use it for baking to add a bit of nutritional value and flavor – it’s also a great gluten-free alternative. It’s full of calcium, iron, protein and vitamin E.  It does have some fat, but at least it’s good fat.

The only way I’ve used amaranth is to pop it like popcorn and eating it with milk just like cereal. Most cereals are overly processed with tons of additives. Not only do I find that they aren’t filling enough, but I also eat way too much of them. That much sugar in the morning is not a good thing. Amaranth is perfect as a cereal because you can add as much sweetener or toppings as you like. The grain doesn’t have that much flavor on it’s own, but a few add-ins make all the difference.

Here’s how you pop amaranth. Turn your burner on medium heat, and put on your pot to preheat for a few minutes. Add your amaranth – just about 2 tablespoons because if you put in too much at once it won’t cook evenly. Cover immediately because it will really start popping all over the place. Since it burns easily, shake your pot around so it isn’t completely on the burner. The entire process should only take about 15 seconds.

It expands about 10 times when it’s popped, so I found I only had to make about ¼ cup in total. I stirred in some turbinado sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and then topped mine with fresh blueberries. Add in your milk, and you’re good to go. It has a nice bit of a crunch and a nutty flavor. I’d recommend other toppings like dried fruits, sliced almonds or shaved coconut.  You can find amaranth at your local Whole Foods or specialty foods store.

–Marly Schuman