Affirmation: This year I will integrate the beauty of nature into my life and add a more robust regime of natural foods for a healthier lifestyle.
Featured grain (seed) – Amaranth
My daughter-in-law Sue stopped by and asked about the large bag of amaranth I had on the kitchen table. Always the teacher, Sue immediately looked up the biology and benefits of amaranth. And, in true academic fashion cited all of the botanical nuances (and beauty) of this grain. “Really Sue, I just want to eat this stuff and lower my cholesterol. I’m not overly into amaranth seeds or leaf identification. I just want to cook it.”
Alas, for me cooking will always be just a necessary evil. When my sons were growing up I’d pull out all the stops to make cooking simpler, or when possible avoid it altogether. Throughout the 70s I eagerly embraced the boil-in-bag and seal-o-meal crazes. Finally, with these innovations I could magically drop frozen leftovers into boiling water to create a one-of-kind, family-ready feast.
Today my attitude remains the same, but my objectives have changed. Now, instead of feed-the-family, my attitude’s more like use-food-as-medicine. Hopefully a more diverse holistic path will help avoid the many drugs my doctors seem to ‘strongly suggest’. I notice the term biologics makes even the most potent drug seem more benign or friendlier.
My trip into the healthy world of amaranth recipes started with a short web article from theKitchn that explained how I can use amaranth as a breakfast cereal, added to soups and stews, popped (my kind of experience) or combined with other grains. It stated, “Like quinoa, amaranth is an ancient, protein-packed seed. The tiny poppy seed-size “grain” was a staple of the Aztecs and Mayans.”
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I tore open the bag and boiled up my first sampling of these beady little seeds. The finished product looked a lot like 7-grain hot cereal. Then I tasted it straight from the pot. I do not recall ever eating flowers, leaves or grass directly, but really this taste nailed it. (Icky)
I quickly realized that when recipes use phrases such as “add or combine with other foods” they really mean find something in the kitchen to conceal the taste. I also knew it was time to worry when I read the phrase “it will turn gummy and congeal if overcooked or left to sit” in the instructions only after I had cooked it.
Honestly, I really wanted to give my amaranth bounty a fair shot so I quickly added ham and cheese to the seedy glob and fried it. I knew this adaptation wasn’t going to be all that tasty; I just wanted to see if there was hope. Nope. Even all that salty fat, animal protein and cholesterol mingled with my cholesterol-lowing amaranth did not kill the taste.
I envision throngs of people throughout the country sadly throwing out bags of amaranth or letting them sit on the shelf – but surely not for lack of trying. Face it. Widespread or revolutionary dietary departures are not easy. Tastes are acquired and habits are difficult to change.
Undaunted I will face tomorrow as another opportunity to embark upon yet another culinary adventure. With steadfast zeal I will continue to give amaranth another chance to find its way into my diet.
Next, I think I’ll try it as a soup thickener. Of course popped amaranth does sound festive. I will keep you posted.
Healthy New Year!
Photo GNU Free Documentation License Author Kurt Stüber Wikimedia Commons