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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Amaranth


I think it was somewhere in my first year of graduate school when I began eating oatmeal for breakfast almost every morning. It started with toasted sliced almonds, diced apple, and apple pie spice. Soon, I was experimenting with all sorts of fruit and nut combinations, including strawberries, blueberries, and raisins. Once I discovered bananas, however, I found it hard to mix it up; every time I thought of trying something different or using another fruit, I couldn’t get myself to give up the taste of warm bananas with chopped pecans swirling in my mouth.

So, I went on a bender. Almost every morning, I ate ½ cup rolled oats cooked with 1 cup water, a sliced banana, and a handful of chopped pecans. I did this for almost 3 years. And I never got sick of it.

Until I found out I was gluten intolerant and discovered that, while my taste buds might not be sick of it, it might be making me sick.

When I first started eating gluten free, gluten free oats were not readily available on the market, like they are now, so I had to find a breakfast alternative.

Amaranth became that alternative for me. It takes longer to cook, but it is high in nutritional value and very inexpensive.

The first time I cooked it up, I threw in some leftover baked apple from dessert the night before and added apple pie spice to the amaranth. Mmmmm….it was soooooo good that I continued to eat it that way for a while. I cooked coarsely chopped apple in a small saucepan with some apple pie spice and threw it in the amaranth.

Then I re-discovered bananna. And how. This time, I had been playing around with coconut milk, adding it to smoothies and various recipes (since I am sensitive to soy and frankly cannot stand the taste of rice milk). I cooked up my amaranth, placed a serving in a bowl, added about ¼ cup of coconut milk, a sliced banana, chopped pecans, and chopped coconut. I cooked it for a few minutes more in the microwave to cook the banana.

Then, I was in heaven. And you can be too:

Banana pecan amaranth

¼ cup amaranth grain
¾ cup water
1 banana
¼ cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon chopped wide, unsweetened coconut
¼ cup lite coconut milk

Place water and amaranth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and cover. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until all water is absorbed, stirring a couple of times during the cooking process (amaranth tends to settle to the bottom of the pan).

If you are cooking just one serving at a time, I recommend adding the sliced banana, coconut and coconut milk half-way through the cooking process. Then sprinkle the pecans on top.

Tip: I usually cook up about 4 servings of the grain (1 cup grain and 3 cups water) then store in the refrigerator for the week. Each morning you can spoon some out into your bowl and add whatever toppings you want and heat in the microwave for a few minutes. It makes weekday morning breakfasts fast and easy!

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