Pulses and Grains

In another of our classes, we talked about pulses (legumes) and grains and the importance of incorporating them into your diet. Pulses and grains are a good source of protein and dietary fibre ( the sort that your gut bacteria love to munch on ), they are both a complex carbohydrate; which means they are slow release energy suppliers. They contains many B vitamins and trace minerals, such as iron, magnesium, manganese and more depending on the type of pulse or grain.

Common pulses are things like lentils, chickpeas, peas, beans, soya beans and peanut

Common grains are things like, oats, wheat, barley, rye, rice. Quinoa and buckwheat are not technically a grain but are known as pseudo grain

For our assignment, we were tasked to try out a pulse or grain that we haven’t cooked with or eaten before. I chose Amaranth. Jump to recipe

Amaranth – A Super Grain

Amaranth is technically not a grain but known as a pseudo grain, like quinoa and buckwheat. It is one of the earliest known naturally gluten free grains; an ancient food of the Aztecs and Mayans of Central America.  It contains ten amino acids, the building blocks of a protein, including two essential amino acids; Lysine and methionine; which are not frequently found in grains.  One cup of amaranth seed supplies 60% of an adult’s daily protein requirement.

Amaranth outperforms whole wheat, not only in protein content but in fibre and healthy fats, ¼ cup of dry amaranth supplies 31% of daily value of fibre and 21% of daily value in iron.

Amaranth is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, Vitamins B2, B3 and B5.  It is also a good source of vitamin B6 and folic acid, vitamin C, copper, potassium and zinc.

As it turns out, Amaranth makes a delicious and nutritious alternative to porridge oats. The following recipe is adapted from a recipe by BBC Good Food.

Recipe…

Amaranth porridge with green tea & ginger compote

This is a delicious alternative to porridge oats.  The combination of amaranth and chia seeds makes this a highly nutritious breakfast.  It is a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids and high in fibre and healthy fats.

  • Inactive time: 8 hours or overnight to soak amaranth and infuse compote
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes
  • Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the compote

  • 8 organic dried apricots
  • 25g dried cranberries or cherries
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 green tea bags
  • 1 red skinned apple
  • 4 tbsp fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 350ml filtered water

For the porridge

  • 85g amaranth
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 200g of plant based yoghurt

Method:

The Compote

  1. The compote needs time to infuse, so this should be done the day before.
  2. Put the dried apricots and dried cranberries or cherries in a pan with the grated ginger
  3. Add 350ml of filtered water to the pan and slowly bring to the boil
  4. Simmer for 10 minutes then remove from the heat.
  5. Add the tea bags, allow to infuse for 2-5 minutes then remove and squeeze out the excess fluid back into the pan
  6. Put compote into a jar and into the fridge until required.

The porridge

  1. Thoroughly rinse the amaranth seeds in a sieve under cold running water, this is to remove the saponins (see notes)
  2. Tip the amaranth into a small pan and add 325ml of filtered water, cover and set aside to soak for at least 8 hours or overnight
  3. When ready, bring the pan with the amaranth into the boil, turn down the heat, put a lid on and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until the grains are tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Take off the heat
  5. Stir in the chia seeds
  6. To serve, stir 200ml of the yoghurt into the mix to make a porridge consistency and spoon into shallow bowls.
  7. Core and slice the apple.
  8. Finish the porridge with slices of the apple, spoon on the remaining yoghurt, spoon on some compote and then finish with a scattering of pomegranate seeds.

Notes – Amaranth, like quinoa, has a natural compound called saponins, this can leave a slightly bitter taste, so to remove them, it is advised to run under cold water.  You will see that they foam up, so rinse until clear.

Amaranth is naturally gluten free, however, look out for allergens on the label of the packet, as often they are produced with gluten containing grains, and like oats you should make sure they say they are gluten free. Especially if you are coeliac or are very gluten intolerant.

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