Have you ever disliked something very much in spite of it being good for you? I am normally not the person but amaranth was one of those things for me. I tried making it on several occasions a few different ways, and every time I felt the same way–I DON’T LIKE IT! Oh, I knew it was good for me, I have seen the nutrient content:
- Protein (complete protein you all )
and various vitamins; and I wanted to like it… very much, but the truth is, every time I saw it in the bulk section at Whole Foods, I avoided it like the black plague. That is until a few days ago.
Change of Heart
A week or so back, I came across a video which intrigued me. It showed how you can POP amaranth like pop corn. It looked CUTE popped, and I was hoping that it tasted even better, because I was determined to find a way to like this little grain. So… we finally moved last week and settled in; and this week I allowed myself some time for playing in the kitchen. I went out to the nearest Whole Foods, bought a small amount of amaranth, just in case I still did not like it, watched the video and went to experimenting… On my third try, after burning the first two batches, I finally got a uniform, un-burnt, tiny pillows of airy goodness, and I… LIKED IT!
The same night, having popped all of the amaranth I bought, while making a mess around the stove area, I tried eating it several ways. Like a bar (image above), by simply mixing popped amaranth with some honey and a dash of salt, then as a cereal, with a tad of honey and cherries:
I later had it mixed with raisins and apple chunks… and loved every single variation I tried. There was hope after all! Not to mention that Hubby liked everything I made with it too… except for the mess in the kitchen which I asked him to clean up for me.
Yesterday, on the way home from church, I made sure to stop by Whole Foods to get more grains because I had an idea . We got home and I began the grain popping party, although this time I got smarter and used a deeper pan, so nothing was going to sneak out and make a mess, because Hubby was not going to be up for another amaranth cleaning chore . I popped enough grain to last us a couple of days, if eaten as cereal. But who would wants to stop there?! Remember–I had an idea! And let me tell you, if you have kiddos, they will LOVE making this recipe with you. It is FUN, FUN, FUN!
Puffed Amaranth Energy Bars
Yes, having already created perfect Vegalicious bars (recipe for which you will find in the HIGH ON RAW ebook), I wanted MORE–I wanted to see if I can make a delicious popped amaranth bar as well… and I KNEW that I could. So, you get to enjoy the popped fruit of my labor. (Hold tight to your seats, I will tell you HOW to pop amaranth too .)
yields 14+ bars
- 2 cups popped amaranth
- 1 cup raisins (or other dried fruit; I would love to try apricot next time, or even do half and half )
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt (or less)
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup cashews, or soaked/prehydrated almonds, chopped into chunks*
- 1/2 cup raw honey (if you feel like this is not enough, you can add a couple more tbsps)
- optional: you can add zest of 1-2 lemons or oranges for beautiful aroma
*click on the link to see why and how to soak/dehydrate nuts
- Place all ingredients into a bowl, and combine until it clumps together (I used a spatula to do this)–see image below
- Prepare two dehydrator sheets (I use 9-tray Excalibur dehydrator), line them with non-stick sheets over the mesh sheets
- Dump half of the mixture on each sheet (second image below)
- Using a spatula and one hand divide mixture on each sheet into 7 or more equal parts, forming into bars (you can also simply spread the mixture out, if you want to make cereal instead of bars); I would no try to form bars by hands, because at this point he mixture won’t stick all the way… except to your hands
- Place into a dehydrator, setting timer for 4 hours, and temperature between 115-118 F
- It might feel like the bars are falling apart, but that’s ok, after a few minutes in the dehydrator the honey will soften and the bars will be more pliable to mold into anything you want them to be, including fun round balls–especially fun for kids
- After 2 hours, if needed, press bar mixture tighter, to make sure it does not fall apart, and slide bars over onto the mesh sheets, removing non-stick sheets altogether
- Dehydrator for additional 2 hours, take out of the dehydrator and let cool off
- Store in an air tight container (I prefer to store mine in a refrigerator), but be careful–they might not last long enough to store –I made 14 bars today, and by now we have only 4 left. Hubby said: “It is not my fault you made them so good.” And I am okay living with that blame .
If you end up making 14 bars, each bar will have (as estimated using www.fitwatch.com):
Using another site I figured that each bar has only about 216 calories… so it’s hit and miss, but remember, whole foods eating is NOT about calorie counting, but rather about meeting our bodies’ nutritional needs!
How to Pop Amaranth
Now it is time to show you how to pop amaranth grains, so you can enjoy them too. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel and create my own video, I found one on YouTube which does a great job:
- Beware, however, not to use non-stick surfaces. See this article WHY: Dangers of Non-Stick Cookware.
- I used my 7-ply deep pan–which prevented grain from popping all over the kitchen.
- I also found that after preheating the pan on medium setting (my electric oven goes from 0-10), I set it on 6, and popped all of the grain in small batches–about 2-3 tbsp at a time–it was the best way to avoid grain burning, but make sure to stir/shake the pan the entire time, because it takes only seconds for the grains to pop
- 1/4 cup of dry grain yields 1 cup of popped amaranth.
Let me know how your bars turn out when you make them, and what ingredients you choose to put into your bars.