By Pooja Motti
Did you know that nearly 75 percent of the average American’s grain consumption is wheat? And that the vast majority of this is consumed as refined flour? In fact, we only consume, on average, a pitiful 10 percent of grains in the form of whole grains. Ten percent! And of this minute portion, wheat, rice and oats take top billing.
Luckily, this recipe helps us discover one of Mother Nature’s most delightful, yet most overlooked varieties of whole grain on Earth: amaranth. Amaranth was cultivated by the Incas and Aztecs and was considered one of their staple foods along with maize and beans. Like quinoa and millet, amaranth is considered a pseudograin/pseudocereal, as these foods derive from broad-leaf plants instead of grasses (e.g. corn, wheat). However, their seeds are used in much the same way.
So why choose amaranth over a more-familiar grain? Because this underdog of a plant boasts some fantastic qualities: It’s easy to cook, gluten-free, and relatively inexpensive.
I enjoy amaranth almost exclusively as a hot breakfast cereal. As I do with all grains, seeds and nuts, I soak amaranth overnight to help neutralize the phytic acids and anti-nutrients that can inhibit digestion. (Check out Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions to learn more about soaking, fermenting and sprouting grains.)
This recipe is so incredibly easy and gorgeously nourishing upon the first bite. Just the right amount of subtle sweetness from unrefined coconut sugar (you can also use maple syrup or honey) and warmed banana flesh help lift the taste of these mild flavored seeds. Cinnamon brings the dish alive with its distinct and sweet aroma, and cashews lend a nice, soft crunch.
This recipe takes about 25 minutes to make, and it will keep fresh in your refrigerator for up to three days. Voila, you’ve got breakfast for half your week!
Cinnamon Amaranth Porridge
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 25 minutes (not including soak)
- 1 cup amaranth (soaked overnight, drained, rinsed)
- 3 cups filtered water
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoon coconut sugar
- 1½ ripe organic bananas, mashed well
- ¼ cup raw organic cashews (soaked overnight, drained) (optional)
- ½ organic banana, cut into thin strips, for garnish (optional)
1. Combine soaked amaranth with three cups water and salt in saucepan, stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until water has been absorbed, stirring occasionally to prevent grains from sticking to bottom of pan. Add more water as needed for desired consistency.
2. Add cinnamon, sugar, mashed bananas and cashews, and gently stir to combine.
3. Divide between three-four bowls, garnish with sliced bananas, and finish with a few dashes of ground cinnamon on top. Enjoy and nourish yourself!