Pumpkin Pie Amaranth Porridge

Few things make you appreciate food more than being personally connected to it. I first tried harvesting amaranth in California, and quickly understood why it is such a precious (and costly) little seed. The grains are so incredibly tiny, and need to be fully separated from the husk, which takes, oh, forever. The patience and attention to detail required to collect a measly few tablespoons took the better part of an afternoon, no exaggeration. However, the divine pleasure of actually consuming the cooked amaranth was unparalleled. Consequently, I don’t absent-mindedly wolf down amaranth, or quinoa, rice, buckwheat, millet – any other grain for that matter. The little seed truly humbled me and for that I am grateful. Sometimes we need a visceral reminder of the abundance we experience on a daily basis, especially when it comes to what we eat.

What is Amaranth?
Amaranth, like quinoa, is often lumped into the “grains” category, but it is in fact the seed of a cereal-like herb. The Aztecs greatly valued amaranth, and used it not only as a dietary staple, but also in their worship rituals. They must have recognized the extremely concentrated nutrition in this special, gluten-free seed, which in recent years has experienced a resurgence in popularity.

Amaranth can be used to fulfill protein and calcium requirements, and is especially helpful for those with consistently elevated needs such as nursing or pregnant women, infants, children, and those who do physically demanding work. For the same reason, it is also a very good food for those transitioning to a vegetarian diet.

Amaranth has an extremely high protein complex, with unusually concentrated amounts of lysine, an amino acid rarely found in plants. A combination of amaranth and other low-lysine grain, such as wheat, creates a very high amino acid profile, even higher than those found in meats and other animal products. [1]
Are you still drinking dairy milk for calcium? Amaranth has got you beat; it contains more calcium, and the supporting calcium cofactors (magnesium and silicon) than milk. The calcium found in amaranth is therefore highly absorbable and easily utilized by the body. [1]

Amaranth is available at most health food stores and natural/gourmet grocery shops. Yes, it is a little expensive, but keep in mind how concentrated the nutrition is – in my opinion, it’s worth every penny. 
How to use Amaranth
Amaranth is delicious when combined with other grains such as millet and quinoa to make a light and fluffy pilaf. Try it in taboule as a replacement for cous cous. Stir it into soups or stews for a protein boost. You may have even seen amaranth sold in puffed form, as a cereal or granola ingredient, but this is very easy to make yourself at home. Simply heat a skillet on the stove, add a couple tablespoons of uncooked amaranth, place a lid on top and swirl the pan until the seeds pop. You can combine puffed amaranth with nut butter and honey to make a delicious and simple energy bar. 
Dessert for Breakfast
The idea for this delectable porridge came from the desire to shake up my own amaranth routine. I used to love making it for breakfast, but I’ve lost interest recycling the same old flavours and toppings. Since my Banana Bread Pancakes were such a hit, I got to thinking about “dessert for breakfast”, and Pumpkin Pie Amaranth Porridge was born.
I also thought about how the flavours of pumpkin pie would work well with amaranth for most peoples’ first experience, as it has a distinct flavour and takes some getting used to. The sweet, creamy, and luscious qualities of the pureed pumpkin and coconut milk will conceal everything but the amazing texture of the seeds themselves, which pop and crunch in your mouth. Consider this porridge the “gateway” dish to amaranth love – and a very sneaky way to eat vegetables for breakfast! 
If you cannot find amaranth, try using quinoa instead. 
A Note on Soaking
All grains (rice, wheat, barley, quinoa, millet, amaranth…) are most nutritious and digestible if soaked prior to cooking. When we purchase grains in the store, they are in a sense, dormant (i.e. not growing), and therefore have all of their nutrients “locked up” waiting to be released when it is time to germinate. If we take the time to soak our grains in pure water 8-12 hours before cooking them, we not only release that dormant energy, but also the grains’ inherent nutrients and greatly increase their digestibility. 
It is not imperative that you soak grains, but to receive the highest amount of nutrition and experience optimal digestion, I highly recommend it. I know it is not always the easiest thing to remember to carry out these steps so far in advance during our busy days, but try to make it a habit and part of a new, healthy routine. 

Pumpkin Pie Amaranth Porridge
Serves 2
Ingredients:
½ cup amaranth, soaked if possible (minimum 8 hours)
1 cup coconut milk, or water (you may need more if using un-soaked grains)
1/3 cup pumpkin puree (preferably fresh, or canned) 
pinch of sea salt
pinch of: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove (or substitute all with pumpkin pie spice)
1/3 vanilla bean pod 
maple syrup to taste
1/3 cup coconut flakes, toasted
Directions:
1. Soak amaranth for as long as possible, 8 hours minimum, 24 hours is optimal.
2. Drain and rinse amaranth. Combine with coconut milk, pumpkin puree, sea salt, spices, and vanilla bean (seeds scraped, and empty bean pod). Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, stirring often to prevent scorching on the bottom. Simmer on lowest heat for 15 minutes with the lid on (watch to see if liquid level becomes too low. If so, add a little extra coconut milk or water) Turn heat off, and let sit for 10 minutes with the lid on to thicken. 
3. Sweeten with maple syrup to taste (1-2 tablespoons). Serve. Drizzle with coconut milk, sprinkle with coconut flakes.

*   *   *   *   *

I also have some exciting news to share with you all. I am now teaching cooking classes here in Copenhagen, starting with an Ayurvedic Cooking class for yogis and those that would like to learn to prepare traditional and medicinal Indian-style food for a sattvic life. If you are living in Copenhagen, or traveling in the area, please feel free to contact me for more information. 

Peace and Porridge,
Sarah B
Source: [1] Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2003.
Copyright 2012 My New Roots at mynewroots.blogspot.com

95 comments

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  10. Kristin

    I am so glad you made this recipe! I have been looking for the perfect amaranth recipe and this is it! I come back to your blog again and again when I’m trying to find healthy options and get frustrated with looking elsewhere! I’ve been trying to follow an doshic diet for some time and really appreciate your knowledge of ayurvedic cooking! If you ever come host an ayurvedic cooking class in the US I am there!

    Much love and gratitude,
    Kristin

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  12. Dave

    I love this, Sarah! I’ve made it a couple times now. Next time I’m going to quadruple the recipe to have enough for breakfast for the whole week.

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  15. Michelle B

    I’m always looking for simple, gluten and dairy free breakfast ideas for my family. We run a GF toast/nut butter habit pretty hard, and on days when we have more time I like to make a BIG savory breakfast feast like huevos rancheros or quiche & salad greens. This is a great egg-free, sweet alternative – both of my kids loved it, even the one who has texture issues with hot cereal. Thank you Sarah, this one’s a keeper :)

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  17. Kristin

    What could I use in lieu of the vanilla bean pod? I live in a rural area of Arkansas and am unable to find that!

  18. Irit

    Do grains need to be soaked just in water or in an acidic medium environment such as whey or lemon juice. I’m so confused and overwhelmed by soaking?

  19. Kristin

    Your blog is a gift…so thank you :) My little ones (3 yrs and 1yr) LOVE your Morning Glories and Banana bread pancakes. Just got myself some Amaranth…I will give it a shot in the morning…can’t wait!

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  22. Miranda

    This is delicious! Just made it but don’t have any dried coconut or maple syrup but it didn’t matter. Nom, nom.

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  25. Brenna

    OH MY GOD!! This porridge is amaazzzing!! It’s like eating a slice of pumpkin pie for breakfast! Thanks for.. oh, well pretty much changing my mornings forever. <3

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  27. Anonymous

    I just tried this porridge for the first time this morning and I’m totally hooked. SO YUMMY! Thanks for sharing :)

    Leslie V.

  28. Anna B

    Hi Sarah,

    Help! I’ve been trying all night to get my amaranth to pop but very little is happening. A very small proportion will pop after a while but the rest just burns. What am I doing wrong?

    Thanks,
    Anna

  29. Elizabeth

    The cereal sounds delicious but I was surprised when you mentioned puffed grains. It has been known for a long time (I think I first discovered it in the 80’s with the Fit fir Life craze and it’s mentioned in Nourishing Traditions as well as other places) that the process of puffing any grain turns it toxic.

  30. Anonymous

    Hi Sarah! First of all, I love your website and your passion for organic, wholesome and alternative foods and ways of cooking.
    Anyway, I have a question for you: Having been a Coeliac for six years now, I decided to give amaranth another go (as two years ago, I had a cooking disaster with this little grain).
    So this morning I cooked up something similar to your Amaranth Porridge (having soaked it for about 13 hours) and unfortunately, my end result tasted quite like grass.
    So I checked my packet, only to find that I had used puffed amaranth… Is it possible to make your amaranth porridge with puffed amaranth?
    I just wanted your advice before I throw out the packet once and for all! Ha ha ha!
    Kind regards, Jade (from Australia)

  31. the not so berkeley mom

    this looks so absolutely divine, that i had to give it a try. first time cooking with amaranth, and it gave this porridge great texture. can’t go wrong with pumpkin and coconut either. i added some chopped up crystallized ginger and it add a nice punch, didn’t even need to add the maple syrup. thanks for inspiring me to try something new!

  32. Anonymous

    Okay, you’ve got me. I was skeptical. Amaranth has never appealed to me in flavor nor fragrance, but this porridge looked too not to try. It is freaking delicious. I appreciate that the combined flavors perfectly complement the grain rather than try to mask it. Thanks for this! :)

  33. Sarah B

    Hi redspool – because this is a porridge, it won’t make a huge difference in texture if you soak or not. If you want to use amaranth for something else like a pilaf, read the manufacturer’s instructions for the amount of water needed.

    Best, Sarah B

  34. Jarra

    Hi Sarah, I’m a big fan of your blog, its AMAZING! Since being introduced by my lovely friend Anna Orbaek! I live in Ireland, is there any chance of you coming over here to do those cooking classes?they look amazing! I did the detox at the start of the year and it’s started a whole new healthy diet for me, I even started back up Yoga! Your blog is so inspiring, thank u thank u thank u! Jarra

  35. Rawhide

    OH MY!!!!
    For Valentines Dinner…..Mexican Dinner included “Taco” filling, “Sour Cream” and Raw Salsa. Sooooooo YUMMY :-)
    For Dessert….. Raw Fudge – What a wonderful dinner adventure. WOW!!!!!

  36. Nicola

    Hi Sarah,
    I am loving any breakfast that involves coconut milk and an alternative grain. I am an avid coconut milk fan and use it all the time in making my various porridges. I introduced the idea to my brother just the other day and now he too is a convert! I think this recipe looks quite lovely and whilst I have regularly eaten millet porridge, have not yet tried amaranth in this way…thanks for the tasty recipe. I’m definitely going to give it a whirl! Nicola x

  37. Jana

    fantastic pics again, I can smell the vanilla+cocos! thank you for all this additional+super interesting info about the amaranth, your blogs are always so informative, a great treat for all of us fans…
    PS: I cooked (dried)beans last week and let them soak for more than 24 hours to wake up their energy:-)

  38. redspool

    Hi – just curious about the soak time for the grains you mentioned. Will it change the cook time or the amount of water needed to cook the grains as well?

    Thanks for sharing!

  39. Phoo-D

    I made this for breakfast and it was quite good. The it was our first experience with amaranth and I found it slightly bitter and definitely grassy. However with the pumpkin pie spice route it was more than edible. Surprisingly even the baby loved it. Thanks for a great recipe!

  40. Kitchen Vignettes

    This is why I love your blog so much! Who else knows what the hell to do with amaranth?!! I have a bag that has been sitting in my cupboard for oh, about 5 years… I think it’s time to feed it to the compost, but at least now I have proper motivation to buy a fresh batch and make this delicious nutritious breakfast. I love your gorgeous photos of the plant too! I had considered growing some this year, but I think I’ll just stick to quinoa, seems easier to harvest… Thanks for yet another illuminating post :-)

  41. Camila

    Hello! I just wanted to stop by and compliment you on your beautiful work. As a fellow food-lover & new food blogger I am delighted to have stumbled upon your site so I am a new follower. Keep up the great work!

    -Camila

  42. Kasey

    I’m totally on board with quinoa already but amaranth is new to me. I see it all the time (thanks to the fact that I live in San Francisco) but I guess I don’t see that many recipes that call out to me like this. I’m going to try it asap. I wish I could take your classes! How cool :) You look adorable in that head scarf, btw.

  43. Elenore (E)

    Oh what a creation!

    I laughed my way through the first part of this post since I have been in exactly the same harvesting procedure <3 ...and I know what you mean about eating them with loads of love and care!

    See you soon <3

  44. Ellyse V. Girod

    I recently found you blog and I love it! I eat mostly vegan so its great to have a blog so focused on whole foods.
    This recipe could not have come at a better time for me. I recently stocked up on our bulk items and picked up some amaranth to try it out but really had no idea what to do with it. My amaranth is soaking as we speak, so excited to give this porridge a try.

  45. Hilary

    Looks great Sarah! And you know, I love how you introduce ingredients that aren’t necessarily a regular staple in a traditional kitchen. Amaranth! I completely forgot about it! Thanks for bringing it back into my mind :)

    Oh and also, I have selected you as one of my favourite food blogs! Congratulations! :) You can see what I wrote under the ‘food blogs’ tab here: cordonbleuinblue.blogspot.com

    Happy posting! :)

  46. Sabra

    Hi, Sarah,

    I discovered your work after my husband and I decided to try the Whole Living Detox Diet.

    I don’t know if you intended it or not, but most of those recipes tended to “go together” over the course of a week so that if I had leftover bell peppers from one recipe, I could use them later in the week for a different one.

    I love this recipe and want to try it. However, to use fresh coconut flakes, I’ll need a whole coconut heart (I live in a rural area) and I was wondering if you had any other recipes that used coconut. OR if you, or anyone, knows of a program or app that is helpful for cluttering rare and bulky ingredients (like the coconut heart) so that nothing goes to waste.

    Thanks!
    Sabra

  47. Katie Jones

    this looks great – i have early onset osteopenia and am dairy free – so i’m constantly trying to eat foods high in calcium. ‘ll certainly be trying this recipe out soon!

  48. Ladies Holiday

    I am so happy you offer such a variety- I’ve been feeling (since the holidays) to have gotten off track and when I stop by I am reminded what is so good about whole foods. Thank you!

  49. Olga

    Oh, Sarah! What a pity! I am going to Copenhagen in the second part of March. I would love to come to your cooking class… Are you going to have some other classes between the 16th and the 20th of March?

  50. Sarah

    Ah now I finally know what to do with that amaranth that has been sitting around in my cupboard! I’ve been following your blog for almost a year now but this is the first time I leave a comment. I had to tell you though, you have been such an inspiration to me. I’m 19 years old and I’ve been extremely ill this past year and have been dealing with severe immunity problems. I was either at the hospital or in bed and had surgery several times, but only after i turned around my eating habits and aproach towards health completely did I start to recover slowly but surely. Both the health and nutrition information and the recipes on your blog helped me so much; I love the way you offer such valuable information in a way that is instructive but not patronizing. I think you show a great balanced attitude towards food and health and you seem to have a great relationship with food. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks :) I hope my English was somewhat correct, not a native speaker. Love, Sarah (yes, also a Sarah!)

  51. Kate

    I’ve been a reader of your blog for months, but I haven’t actually ever posted…but I couldn’t believe it when I saw this post! I was literally going to try making a quinoa porridge/pudding this week and post it! Great post and love your blog!

  52. la domestique

    Wow, I’ve never seen pictures of the amaranth plant, and it’s beautiful! It’s so important to eat mindfully, to know and understand the effort people take to harvest ingredients that we casually pick up at the store. I enjoyed the amaranth tutorial, and look forward to adding it to my pantry and making your lovely breakfast for dessert.

  53. hibou

    Ever since I realized how painstaking rice harvesting is, I’ve had a whole new relationship with it. No grain goes uneaten, lemme tell you! Thank you for reminding me that this extends to all the lovely little grains/seeds. I’m going to put some amaranth in water right now – can’t wait to try this tomorrow! And as for the cooking classes, how amazing! You are one busy woman – have you found a way to have more than 24 hours in a day?

  54. Anonymous

    hi sarah! will this work with millet too? i have a huge bag of millet and i don’t know what to do with it;) beautiful photos, gorgeous as always! xxx

  55. Kelsey

    Gorgeous. I love amaranth… with a touch of coconut, pumpkin and maple? Yes please. Best of luck in your teaching endeavors. When I went through my yoga teacher certification a few years ago I became deeply connected to eating for my (pitta) dosha. Love that you provide so many dosha-balancing recipes in this space.

  56. Hilary

    Hi Sarah!
    I’m a nutrition student, and I am always inspired by your posts and always learn something from you! I just love that you go into such detail about all the wonderful foods you cook. Never stop being so awesome!

  57. Ashley

    I am a huge fan of amaranth and pop it all the time to make cereal. For some reason it’s really affordable around here, but I think I’ll start appreciating it even more than before. Thanks for the always fabulous, wealth of knowledge you hold. The last shot + first shots of the porridge are stunning. Love the back lighting.

  58. Luise

    Hi Sarah! That precious little seed is super tasty, love it in pancakes, must try your porridge recipe tomorrow morning :-)

    Cooking class in Copenhagen, fantastic! I would love to meet you and cook with you, unfortunately I’m super busy this spring, but do let me know if you get more dates…!

    Healthy Hugs from Stockholm.

  59. Sarah B

    Hi Sasha,

    Your muesli sounds awesome! And so deliciously similar – great minds….

    Yes, I think this would be a little rich for cleansing, but try it with water instead of the coconut milk to cut back on the complexity.

    Best,
    Sarah B

  60. Sasha

    I love the idea of translating the cozy yet decadents flavors of pumpkin pie into a breakfast!

    I just made a version of bircher muesli that is a sibling to this amaranth porridge. It uses roasted amaranth and coconut milk plus some cardamom and flax seeds. It is based on a decadent breakfast I had in Mumbai and I actually even bought the amaranth there and then brought it home with me.

    Yay for another amaranth breakfast recipe! I can’t wait to try it with the pumpkin.

    Do you think this would be too rich to eat if I am cleansing this week?

  61. janet @ the taste space

    Lovely! I’ve made an almond-amaranth breakfast bake before but this looks fabulous, Sarah.. and trust me, if I were in Copenhagen, I’d jump at the opportunity to take your cooking class! If you do anything back in Toronto, definitely let me know. :)

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