Popped amaranth makes for a great cereal option. It is easy to make as well.
Most kids love cereals. But, they are often a high source of carbohydrates (too low in protein) and often include preservatives, sometimes even artificial flavors and colors.
Homemade Healthy Cereal
So, what is the alternative? Making granola at home is one idea. Popped cereal is also an idea – not just any popped cereal – specifically, popped amaranth (a.k.a rajgira)!!
Health Benefits of Amaranth
Amaranth is a fantastic grain (sorry pseudo grain, a seed actually). So, why is it fantastic? For starters, it has high levels of protein.
There are sooooo many health benefits to amaranth. The protein in amaranth is referred as “complete” because it contains lysine (Quinoa is the only other strong contender). For most other grains – you have to eat it with lentils or beans to get lysine, the amino acid that makes it a ‘complete’ protein. Also, It’s also the only grain documented to contain Vitamin C – Ain’t that interesting??
Another fun fact – Using cheese protein as a reference, researchers concluded that the protein in amaranth “is among the highest in nutritive quality of vegetable origin and close to those of animal origin products.” – That’s a vegan dream come true, right there!!
2 more things that make amaranth so great for vegetarians:
1) The ratio of carbohydrate is much smaller compared to other grains. This is especially great for vegetarians, who are constantly having high carbohydrate consumption from rice or dal (yes dal have carbs) or wheat (again carbs) or potato etc etc.
2) Amaranth is a great source of iron (1 cup cooked – 29% daily value). Meat eaters get high levels of iron from meat. We, vegetarians, can use all the help we can get to bump up our iron levels.
Thus, my love for amaranth can aptly be summarized by this excerpt from Menshealth Big Book of Nutrition:
It is easy to pop Amaranth. It just takes a wee bit of practice. Don’t get discouraged by a burnt first batch. Trust me, once you get the hang of it, it is strangely addicting and you can keep going till someone says Stop!!
Here’s a video from this blog’s Instagram page where I show you how you can get popped amaranth in under 30 seconds.
Make sure the pan is nice and hot. Drop a few test grains, it should pop right away. If the temperature is low, the seeds get toasted, but do not pop. So, make sure the pan is hot.
Once you get the seeds in – constantly rotate the pan to make sure all the seeds get popped and none of them burn in the process. Burnt seeds spoil the whole batch. So, be careful not to burn them.
Once you get the popped amaranth, the cereal bowl is like a blank canvas. Add you favorite nuts, seeds, dried fruits, home made jam, chocolate chips – whatever combination you and your family likes.
Kids love the crunch of the popped amaranth. This is a true treat that is both healthy and nutritious. Try it at your home and let me know what you think. Post your comments below. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
- Iron Content in Grains
- Protein Content in Grains
- Amaranth Health Benefits – 1
- Amaranth Health Benefits – 2
- On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee
- The Men’s Health Big Book of Food and Nutrition
*This post contain references that uses Amazon affiliate links*