I have a confession to make: I eat too many eggs for breakfast. They are a family favorite, and I must say that, personally, I feel better when I eat eggs than when I eat just about anything else in the morning. I guess I need the protein and fat to carry me through, lest I become ravenous by 10AM. I’ve tried many other, often vegan, sources of fat and protein, but eggs seem to work best for me at this time in my life.
I know it is not the healthiest thing. Not because eggs are unhealthy (when pasture-raised, they happen to be one of the best sources of protein we can consume, and chock full of nutrients and beneficial fats), but because variety is the spice of life, and health. Eating the same thing nearly every day increases our chances of developing a food intolerance, so it’s really not a great idea.
Okay, I know. I’m working on it.
I do vary what I eat with the eggs, though. Leftover vegetables, kale salad, gluten-free muffins… but eggs remain a staple most days.
There are days when it’s gray and cold outside, perhaps even raining or snowing, and I just want a bowl of something warm, creamy and comforting to nourish me.
On those days, I usually reach for amaranth. Sometimes quinoa or brown rice. But mostly amaranth. Its tiny seeds have the perfect texture and nutty flavor, and it works beautifully as a breakfast porridge the whole family will enjoy.
Amaranth is a very small seed that originated in Mexico and South America and was a nutritious staple for the Aztecs. High in protein, amino acids, calcium and iron, it is a grain-like crop that contains a lot of fiber, and is also very easy to digest. In terms of texture, it most resembles the cream of wheat that some of us grew up with, but is, of course, much healthier.
This porridge tastes really great topped with pears and toasted pecans as presented here, but feel free to use any nuts or in-season fruits that you would like.
Like all grains, nuts and legumes, amaranth needs to be soaked 12-24 hours before cooking to help remove its anti-nutrients and phytic acid. Soak in filtered water with 1-2 tablespoons of something acidic (vinegar, lemon juice, etc.) which will help neutralize the anti-nutrients.
I prefer hazelnut milk in this recipe (for a video tutorial on how to make it, please refer back to last week’s post on homemade non-dairy milks – it literally takes only 5 minutes to make!), but feel free to use any milk that you like.
Amaranth takes a little time to soften and cook (about 40 minutes), but is well worth the wait. If you typically run short on time on weekdays, cook it the night before and reheat in the morning, or make a big batch on weekends to carry you through the week. Just leave the fruit out (add it at the last minute) and reheat with more milk or water to reach a creamy consistency once more.
A word about cinnamon: like most spices, cinnamon is not simply a flavor booster, though it does serve that role impeccably. It also happens to be a great blood sugar regulator, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant that is reputed to help with diabetes, arthritis, and migraines, among many others.
So remember to always add spices (and fresh herbs!) to your dishes, as they greatly enhance the nutritional value of every meal.
Before I go, here is the link to my new recipe on MindBodyGreen: Best Vegan Chocolate Smoothie Ever (Literally!). Hope you like it.
Love and health!
Creamy Amaranth Porridge with Asian Pears and Cinnamon
2 cups amaranth, soaked overnight
5 cups hazelnut, almond, cashew, brown rice or hemp milk, plus extra for serving
2 vanilla beans, seeded
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 pinches sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
4 Asian pears
1 cup pecans (almonds or hazelnuts), toasted, coarsely chopped
Drain and rinse amaranth (make sure to use a very fine sieve or the tiny amaranth grains will fall through).
Add amaranth, milk, vanilla, maple syrup and sea salt to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, mix in cinnamon, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until milk is absorbed and amaranth is soft, about 40 minutes.
Mix in applesauce. Allow to sit for a few minutes.
While the porridge is resting, finely dice the Asian pears, skin on.
Serve porridge immediately with more milk, if desired, and chopped fruit and nuts on top.
Store any leftovers in an air-tight container and reheat with extra milk or water.