Monday, August 26, 2013

Amaranth to the Rescue (well not really but I learned a lot anyway)

It is still technically summer in Western PA (even though everyone is gearing up to head back to school!) and with summer not only comes a surplus of sweet corn but a surplus of zuccinni. This is another what in the world do I do with all of this ____________ (insert vegetable here) recipes that came to the rescue. My CSA has been loading me up with zucchini. And I like some zucchini in a salad or to munch on raw but I could not possibly eat all of this zucchini by myself (because of course my daughter licks it and tells me its yucky.)

I decided to cook up some fun zucchini boats to try and trick my 2 year old with the novelty of what we are eating and to free up some space on my fridge. (It totally didn't work. She still licked the zucchini and told me it was yucky. At least I tried.)

I found this really awesome looking quinoa stuffed zucchini recipe and was psyched to make it. I get really excited about plant based protein and quinoa is a great one to have on hand. Most of the recipes I found at first called for some sort of meat stuffing. Yay plants! Until I looked in my freezer (yes I keep my opened grains in the freezer for freshness) and I had zero quinoa and it was the 11th hour. A trip to the store was not happening.

So I got creative. Quinoa is technically a seed and I had some amaranth from my field trip to Bob's Red Mill (best. day. ever.) which is also technically a seed. Sounded good to me and I started to cook it up. Well as it turns out it wasn't the best substitute I ever made. It tasted good but the texture was off. (And I added turmeric so that is why it is yellow - Yay for anti-inflammatory foods. I can use all the help I can get in that department!)

The amaranth cooked up kind of runny and it stayed really small. It doesn't fluff up when it cooks like rice or quinoa. I do think it would make an awesome (and protein packed) sub for oatmeal in the morning -- with a little cinnamon and some blueberries. (Yum!) But it was not the best choice as a sub for a stuffing in my zucchini boats. It kind of oozed out every where. It tasted really good it was just goopy looking (and kind of freaked me out.) So while I will never make that sub again I am excited to try it in other things especially after looking into what amaranth is all about.

Here are some things I learned about amaranth (thanks to for the lesson!)

  • It is a complete protein (Yay!) and for those of us who don't eat meat or would like to cut back on our meat consumption this is a great thing. A protein is considered complete when it contains all 9 essential amino acids that our bodies don't create. In this case amaranth contains lysine -- an amino acid that is typically missing in most grains. 
  • It is also good for your heart and studies have shown it to be a cholesterol lowering whole grain (for more information and links to these studies please visit

  • And it's gluten free -- and with all they hype around gluten right now that seems to always be a plus. 
  • It also has a ton of magnesium and iron
I also read that it can be popped, like corn. How cool is that -- I am super excited to try that out and see if it can satisfy when my crunchy munchy cravings hit. Or to throw on top of salads. Or soup.

So if you have a chance pick up some amaranth and try it. Leave any recipes in the comments below. I would love to know what you think and am always on the lookout for killer recipes (that may get my kid to eat something other than fruit and cheese-- but it could be worse.) I used Bob's Red Mill brand as I (indirectly) mentioned above. Because I am obsessed with Bob's Red Mill (it may be my very favorite place in the Pacific Northwest second only to Cannon Beach -- but seriously the corn grits may have been life changing. Not kidding.) 

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