If you’ve never had amaranth, you’re not alone. I hadn’t either… Pay attention to this ancient grain, which actually is not a grain at all, but rather a seed, like quinoa…
I’ll spend a little time going into the health benefits of amaranth, because I find this subject interesting. And after hearing about all of the benefits, I’m sure you will want to pick up a bag and pop your way to these little Puffed Amaranth Snack Bars, too 🙂 Oh, and they’re gluten-free if that’s important to you.
Firstly, amaranth’s protein content is 26g per cup (unlike long grain white rice at 13g), so it’s the double. That’s a very generous amount of protein for such a tiny seed. It is also a complete protein because it includes all of the essential amino acids, including lysine, which is deficient in wheat… It’s also a mighty source of iron. Just one cup of uncooked amaranth contains a whopping 82% of your RDA. That figure is of course based on uncooked amaranthe… You’d normally consume about 1/4 of that- but still at 20% that’s great! It also contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and folate. One cup of uncooked amaranth has 31 percent of the RDA for calcium, 14 percent for vitamin C. (source: Benefits of Amarath).
You can eat amaranth cooked (boiled) as you would prepare rice, or you can pop amaranth like popcorn! That’s what we’re doing today.
To pop amaranth you just need a heavy-duty pot with a thick bottom, a cover, and the amaranth seeds. You do not use oil to pop amaranth.
Put your burner on medium to high heat, place your pot on it, and wait until you think the pot is fully hot. Test its hotness by placing in 3-4 amaranth seeds and see if they pop within 3 seconds. If not, your pot either didn’t reach its maximum temperature, or you need to boost up the heat ever so slightly. The seeds should make their popping noise pretty much within 2 seconds of hitting the pot. To pop amaranth, there is no express route, you have to do it in tiny batches, about 1 tsp at a time. It goes fast; I did the big bowl for these snack bars within 20 minutes. You just sprinkle the seeds on to the hot pot, cover, listen to the popping for about 12-15 seconds, remove from cover, and then dump in a big bowl. Repeat. It is trial and error to find the correct temperature with your particular stove. I burnt my first batch, simply because I was impatient (like always) and put my amaranth in the pot before the pot was hot enough. Result: the amaranth didn’t pop and it was burnt. I also poured way too much in the pot at once. Folks, this is not popcorn. Amaranth has to be done a teaspoon at a time. I almost decided to give up, but then persisted by waiting a little longer, and trying again. This time the amaranth popped immediately and I was on my way!
You’ll need about this much puffed amaranth to make your bars:
1/2 cup crushed pecans:
Sticky goo: mine is made from peanut butter and honey, mixed in with pecans and raisins. On retrospect, a sprinkling of cinnamon would have been awesome! (You get to benefit from my hindsight!) You can make your goo from anything sticky and sweet. Let’s not get carried away and start melting marshmallows… but you get my point…
Mix up the puffed amaranthe in the goo:
Line a pyrex pan with parchment paper and then use another piece to really pack it in. Place the tray in the freezer for 30 minutes until hard.
Cut into squares and enjoy immediately. You can store the squares back in the freezer and then pull one out when you want a little snack. Otherwise, they will fall apart.
Since mine came out on the sweet side (word of wisdom, go easy on the honey…) I plan to enjoy mine in the morning with a little plain yogurt at the same time for a nice start to the day.
Hello, beauties 🙂
Happy snacking! (at gouter time of course…)