Amaranth: Get Poppin'
Amaranth is an ancient grain that has been around for thousands of years. This superfood is nutritious, inexpensive, gluten-free, and totally under utilized in many of our diets!
In the past, I’ve only ever used amaranth seeds in soups or stews by adding about 1/4 cup for a boost of nutrition, but I’ve recently tried a new technique: Amaranth Popping! This is basically the same idea as making popcorn - taking the seed and adding heat to create something puffy and edible.
Health Benefits of Amaranth:
Protein - Amaranth is considered a ‘complete’ protein because it contains all amino acids. Many plant sources lack lysine, but not this super grain. 1 cup of cooked amaranth has up to 9g's of protein!
Minerals - It is especially rich in iron, calcium, and magnesium. It’s actually considered anti-anemic due to it’s high iron content.
Antioxidants - It is rich in constituents that protect our bodies from oxidative stress, which is important for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, etc.
Fibre - It’s a great source of soluble fibre which keeps our gut flora happy and our cholesterol levels down.
I was curious to know if heat affected the nutrition of amaranth, and surprisingly, there are quite a few research studies on this! Heating actually increases its antioxidant activity, and doesn’t significantly effect amino acid, vitamin, or mineral content - great news, so time to get poppin'!
What you need:
-Amaranth seeds (which can be be purchased from Bulk Barn, but they can also be found at grocery and health food stores)
-Small or medium saucepan with lid
-Heat an empty saucepan on medium high. You’re going to need the lid so make sure it’s nearby.
-Once heated, add 1 TBSP of amaranth seeds to the pot and cover with lid. Don’t do any more than 1 TBSP at a time since you want the seeds to lie in a single layer to cook evenly.
-Lift the saucepan (with oven mitts) above the burner, and give it a little shake.
-The seeds should pop quickly - if not instantly, it should pop within seconds. When I say ‘pop’ they make a little noise and fly up in all directions. It’s not as loud compared to corn kernels.
-Quickly transfer the popped amaranth to a bowl and repeat the above steps until you’ve reached your desired amount.
-Let cool and store in the fridge for a few weeks or use immediately.
-Burning: Be careful that the saucepan isn’t too hot because the seeds burn very easily, trust me. Adjust the temperature if necessary. Also, try to be as quick as possible when transferring the popped amaranth to the bowl because if you linger, they will certainly burn. You’ll know the seeds have burned based on smell and they turn a darker colour.
-6 TBSP of amaranth seeds will produce about 2 cups of popped amaranth
Use as a topping - add to oatmeal, apple sauce, smoothie bowl, etc.
Eat as a cereal - just add milk, and maybe a touch of cinnamon.
I recently made these crispy amaranth bars where you mix puffed amaranth with raw honey, cocoa, and a bit of salt. Apparently they are a spin off of a traditional Mexican dessert, Alegria and have such a light and nutty taste!
I hope you give popped amaranth a try! It's a great way to add another superfood into your diet. Enjoy!