Make 1.5 Cups
These cool mornings have quickly brought with them the craving for creamy oatmeal for breakfast. While preparing some for my husband and I, I also had some amaranth cooking for Claire. (Quinoa was her first ‘grain’ and this would be her second.) Experimenting in the kitchen is always fun. Experimenting with recipes for Claire doubles that fun!
Amaranth is still somewhat of an obscure grain though it enjoys a very rich history. While quinoa was the sacred, power food of the Incas, amaranth was the sacred, power food of the Aztecs. (Not surprising, quinoa and amaranth are distant cousins.) When the Spaniards arrived, they forbade the cultivation of amaranth, mostly because it was often used in sacred, religious ceremonies. This was inconvenient for the spread of Christianity. (Food permeates every aspect of life!) Still, amaranth was resilient and its spread around the globe proved inevitable as its name indicates. Amaranth comes from the Greek amarantos, “one that does not wither,” or “the never-fading.”¹ (You’ll think about this “never-fading” again, when you’re cleaning up after your baby dines on this goody!)
Rebecca Wood writes that, “the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has encouraged the use of amaranth since 1967 because wherever amaranth is consumed there is little or no malnutrition”.² That’s a bold statement for the health properties of this poppy seed-like “grain”. Like quinoa, it is a protein power-house, at about 14%. It also contains more protein and calcium than milk. Go ahead and read that sentence again. This is one reason why amaranth is such a perfect food for pregnant and nursing moms and for children. It’s also what makes it ideal for babies since babies are well equipped to digest proteins. Amaranth contains lunasin, a peptide thought to have cancer-preventing benefits and preventing inflammation that accompanies chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.¹ It’s also naturally gluten-free, which is really just a bonus.
Amaranth can be added to thicken soups, it can be popped and spiced up as a snack or it can be added to baked goods. It’s tiny, it’s versatile, it’s nutritious and yes, it’s delicious in all its wild nuttiness! Your body will do cartwheels in gratitude for adding this to your diet.
Needless to say, we traded in our steel-cut oats and that morning, we all ate this amaranth and apple pudding for breakfast.
1/2 C amaranth, soaked in 1 C water and 1 T lemon juice
1/2 C coconut milk
1/4 t sea salt
1 t vanilla extract
3 T raisins
1 T unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 C stewed apple, diced (bananas work lovely wonders here, too)
sprinkle of ground cinnamon
sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg
1. Place amaranth with its soaking water, coconut milk and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then lower heat to simmer.
2. Add vanilla extract and raisins and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often, until the liquid has gotten thick and creamy.
3. Remove from heat and stir in coconut oil.
4. Serve by scooping some of the pudding into a bowl and topping with apples, cinnamon and nutmeg.
5. Enjoy! (And if you’re feeding this to a little one, don’t be put off by the mess. Just be prepared to find amaranth EVERYWHERE – remember it’s “never-fading” – and know that it’s well worth it!)
² Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia