Hot Amaranth Cereal
Thursday, 25 September 2008
When I first went gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free, the most difficult transition for me was breakfast. That’s because for years I ate cereal, pastries and bagels almost every morning. I despaired over how I would possibly replace those convenient foods that satisfied my morning sweet cravings. I spent about the first year of my new diet trying out gluten-free cereals. There are only a few and most of them contained sugar. So I got used to rotating Nature’s Path corn flakes (sweetened with fruit juice), Perky’s Nutty Rice, and Arrowhead Mills puffed millet (blah). But that just didn’t fill me up - and as I started eating more whole foods, I became aware of how all those processed grains affected my blood sugar.
So I checked out some hot cereals. Oatmeal was not an option since I was sensitive to oats as well and oats can be contaminated with gluten due to the rotation of crops with wheat. I was pleased to discover Ancient Harvest quinoa flakes and Pocono’s cream of buckwheat, but I still needed to add to my repertoire. So I started cooking whole grains, such as polenta and amaranth. You can buy these gluten-free grains in bulk and save a lot of money over packaged cereals, and they are totally unprocessed, truly whole grains.
This morning it was amaranth. Amaranth is an ancient grain that has been grown in Asia and Central America dating back 5,000 years. It’s gluten-free and very nutritious – high in protein (nearly complete), iron, calcium, potassium and B vitamins. In addition to the seeds, amaranth greens (sometimes called callaloo) are also edible. Cooked amaranth greens, however, are high in oxalic acid (which inhibits calcium absorption), but that is not the case for amaranth seeds.
Cooked amaranth cereal is a comfort food to me. It’s got a nutty flavor, has a sort of creamy-yet-crunchy texture, and is quite satisfying. It takes about 20 minutes to prepare, but if you’re in a hurry just bring it to a boil and turn down the heat, then go take a shower while it’s cooking.
1/4 cup amaranth
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup filtered water
fresh or frozen blueberries
Bring the amaranth, salt, and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Top with fresh or frozen blueberries (or any kind of berries or dates), drizzle with agave nectar, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Enjoy it with a piece of fresh fruit, a cup of tea, and the morning paper, and you’ve got yourself a complete breakfast.