An ancient American hot cereal

Friday morning I awoke bleary eyed and unmotivated to concoct anything of interest for breakfast, until I remembered the small bag of amaranth seeds in a bowl on the counter.

I’d picked some up a couple of weeks ago after reading what a powerhouse grain this was, then promptly forgotten all about it. Twenty minutes of psychedelic boiling later — half a cup of grain to 1 ½ cups of water — we had a small batch of something that resembled Cream of Wheat, only spongier, denser and way more nutritious.

Bob, Ben and I were the only ones who tried it, but we all gave it a thumbs up. If only I’d stopped there.

The cool thing about the Internet, of course, is the blazing speed at which the average human schmuck can sponge up information. (I can’t wait to sneak some kale into our next blueberry smoothie, but I’m gonna have to wait a while because Colleen caught me looking at triathlon obsession’s recovery smoothie post and will be suspicious.)

But the corresponding downer is that as soon as you make some brilliant discovery — such as an inexpensive native American grain that’s high in protein, calcium and iron — you then discover that whatever you’ve managed to accomplish is kinda boring compared to what the really awesome people of the world are up to.

So instead of being content with our Cream of Wheat upgrade, I couldn’t resist attempting to make popped amaranth. Recipes for amazing concoctions such as Cocoa Puffed Amaranth spurred me on as our 4 p.m. cereal deadline approached — a nutty yet revered tradition in our household, in which Friday dinner is a buffet made up of a fresh week’s supply of breakfast cereals.

Only my attempts at popping amaranth didn’t turn out so hot. The air popper approach merely spewed unpopped seeds all over my kitchen. Tossing them in a hot skillet was at least interesting, but yielded only a small amount of puffed grain. (I had to toss several batches out because I couldn’t get the temperature quite right and wound up burning some.)

It quickly became clear that for us, this particular Friday cereal lineup was gonna be relegated to Golden Grahams, Raisin Bran and Peanut Butter Cheerios, with popped amaranth as little more than a sight gag for their viewing pleasure.

I may come back to this at some point and try to make a single batch for myself. Or I might not. Personally, I preferred the cooked grain to the puffed version.

But I do like the idea of incorporating amaranth into our pantry staples. And at some point we may explore growing some in the garden. From what I’ve read, it requires much less space than, say, wheat.

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