Adventures in Whole Foods: Amaranth

One day while wondering the aisles at my local co-op, I happened to pick up a bag of amaranth.  I had no idea what I was going to do with it at the time, but I’d been wanting to experiment with some different grains for a while so I decided to give it a go.  It then sat in my cupboard for 3 months until I recently found it and thought I should do something with it.

Amaranth looks somewhat similar to quinoa, which I love, so I figured it would be easy to find a use for it.  After doing a bit of research I found that amaranth is not nearly as common in recipes and in fact quite different from quinoa.  It’s very soft when cooked in water, more like porridge than rice.  It can also be  “popped” on the stove and used in a multitude of ways, from cereal to peanut butter cups.

For my first amaranth cooking experience, I decided to pop some of it for cereal.  It sounded simple enough: heat skillet, add a few tablespoons, cover, and heat for 15-20 seconds until the amaranth “pops”.

What ensued was a majorly chaotic cooking fail.  There are no pictures of the first couple batches because I was preoccupied cleaning up the mess I’d made and starting over.  What I learned was:

  • The skillet has to be very, very hot for the amaranth to pop properly.
  • Only cook 1 tablespoon at a time – any more and it will burn
  • Put the lid on right away and keep it on or you will get amaranth all over your stove
  • Do not put burned amaranth directly into your trash can from the skillet or you will melt a hole in your garbage bag and possibly your trash can too.

After learning the above lessons, the third attempt was finally successful.  And my husband took over stove duty, so that probably had something to do with it.

Success!  3rd time’s a charm.

Once popped, I added in some cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, raisins, raw almonds and a splash of skim milk.  The result was absolutely delicious and much healthier than boxed cereal.


Will I try amaranth again?  Probably, especially since I still have 3/4 a bag left at home.  In the future I’ll probably pop more than one serving at a time and store it.  I’ve also been eying that peanut butter cup recipe, which may find its way into my kitchen sometime soon!


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