If you are a regular Yes Chef reader, (I can’t help but laugh as I write that) you might have heard me mention about my rule of thumb to experiment with a new ingredient each week. I find it the best way to keep creativity flowing and make sure I don;t get stuck in a rhythm (which even for a chef is easy to do)
So this week my ingredient is Amaranth. Ever heard of it before? Nope, well i don’t blame you, it is a bit of a niche ‘healthy’ ingredient. I hadn’t heard of it until a few months ago. Basically it is another type of gluten free, psuydo-cereal grain (I say psyudo cereal because it isn’t actually a cereal but it breaks down in the body in a similar way to cereal grains) and a real nutritional powerhouse. It is grown primarily in South America it was used by the Aztecs in both their cooking and ritualistic ceremonies.
To celebrate the coming of the festive season and to jolly up the old porridge a little I have had a play around and come up with a rather tasty chai spiced bowl of breakfast goodness.
It is certainly an interesting ingredient to play around with. Unlike oats it really doesn’t tend to hold much shape once cooked. I made it at my mother’s house and she did make a comment about the texture being a little gruel-like, which I would agree with. I would say, if you like a more textured porridgey effect, it might be worth going for half a measure of amaranth and half a measure of rolled oats (as shown in the recipe below). If you like a smoother porridge (like the one below), by all means leave out the oats and go for a full measure of amaranth.
A few reasons why you should try it:
- It is significantly higher in protein than any other gluten free grain: One cup of uncooked amaranth contains 28.1 grams of protein. Over double the amount found in 1 cup of uncooked white rice, which has only 13.1 grams of protein.
- It contains beneficial fatty acids, (aka vitamin e) which is great for the skin, hair and nails
- It is higher in iron, magnesium and fiber than all other gluten free grains
- It makes a pretty darn good bowl of porridge.
- Its a bit of a pain in the a** to get, but it can be found in most health food shops, or you can order it online (if you are more organised than me)
Chai spiced Amaranth Porridge Recipe
- 1/4 cup flaked amaranth
- 1/4 cup jumbo rolled oats
- 300ml almond milk
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 6 bashed cardamom pods
- a pinch of allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- a grinding of black pepper and a pinch of sea salt
To garnish: I have served the two bowls of porridge a little differently one with maple glazed seeds, some berries, CoYo coconut yoghurt and maple syrup, the other with coconut yoghurt, goji berries and bee pollen
A bit about Bee Pollen: Known as a ‘superfood’ it is the pellets from the pollen ball that has been packed by worker honeybees. One teaspoonful contains over 2.5 billion grains of flower pollen. It is therefore a real nutritional powerhouse but unlike many it has a really pleasing taste. The soft honey sweetness works really well with the aromatic, warming chai spices.
Combine the amaranth, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, black pepper, salt and almond milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower heat to a simmer and cook, stirring, until creamy, This will take around 10-15 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on it and stir often to prevent catching. If porridge seems thick as any time during cooking, add some water to loosen it.
Remove the cardamom pods (if you can find them) and serve with your chosen garnishes. Enjoy hot.