Coconut Amaranth Porridge ~ Peter’s Porridge

A sweet, thick, gluey, protein punch of a breakfast  P1020966

Amaranth is an ancient uberfood.  Good for the lungs, high in protein, fiber, bioavailable calcium and other minerals.  The cooked texture is like that of caviar or fish roe.  My husband fast fell in love with it.  He asked for it so often I’ve christened it in his honor.  My own reaction was less dramatic but I’ve come to like it a lot.  Our boy loves amaranth balls out of the oven, even plain.

A diet based on whole grains and vegetables is said to lend spiritual clarity and enlightenment.  Peter and I enjoy a running joke that his amaranth cures his A.D.D. and transfigures him into a sage.  My simple man would spout the most profound insights while literally ruminating.  (One recent day, he was searching for a word while talking over his breakfast bowl and decided, “I need more amaranth.”  Chewing thoughtfully, Peter pulled the shy word off the cusp of his brain: “disarming…..you are more disarming than…”  I was stunned by the recharged verbiage.)

The seeds are so small I had trouble draining the bath water without losing so many.  Cheesecloth worked but without another pair of hands, I would still lose a precious batch.  The most hopeful colanders and sieves I came across were not tight enough to trap the amaranth. Then I came across this mesh oil strainer at a kitchen supply store next to the H Mart Korean Market in Diamond Bar, CA.  Only $3.99, 6″ in diameter, the length of my hand.  Perfect.

P1020975For their expansive nature, vegetables, fruit, or something naturally sweet in the morning keeps us in sync with the rising energy of the day.  Fruit is best eaten alone for smoother digestion.  But when cooked into another food, it doesn’t ferment in the G.I. as problematically.  Coconut manna, aka coconut butter, is decadent whole dried coconut.  I added 3 T of the Nutiva organic the last 15 minutes so as not to overcook it while giving it time to meld in.  This would be a great time to add some cinnamon powder.  Since amaranth is cooling, the spice helps balance the body in the morning chill.  I try to contrast color in every meal, and so drizzled on some blackstrap molasses to finish off just before enjoying.  Peter loves organic raw honey here.  Color is no random whim of nature, but serves each a purpose.  Dark color food tends to be more warming.

See How to Prepare Whole Grains for water to amaranth ratio.  For a moderate amount up to about 3 servings, the porridge will be ready in 25, 30 minutes, but high heat kills precious nutrients so I run it about 40 minutes on low.  This bowl was part of a 6-serving pot.  After bringing to boil on high the first 15 minutes, I promptly simmered on low another 45 minutes.

Amaranth Oatmeal

P1020982One starch at a time digests best.  Max, two.   I like the combination of oatmeal and amaranth.  The catarrh (mucus) that the first can exacerbate when eaten alone is offset by the drying property of the second.  And oats are warming, amaranth cooling.  I just added some gluten-free oatmeal (which had cooked in its own pot) on a bed of amaranth, and drizzled some blackstrap for an extra load of minerals and color. A couple of nuts or seeds would provide, among other things, a balance of hard and soft textures.

How to Prepare Whole Grains, Seeds, & Nuts

Whole grains have enzyme inhibitors called phytic acid which can inhibit mineral absorption, interfere with digestion, and cause gas.  Soaking draws out the acid and initiates the germination process, enlivening enzymes and nutrients. Soak overnight, or 12 hours if possible, in water at least double the amount of grain.  Toss the bath water and the floaters (that didn’t sink because they’re duds).  Cook 3:1 or 2:1 water to grain ratio, depending on the food.  Starches are acid-forming.  Add up to 1/4 tsp sea salt per cup of grain to alkalize.  I use salt sparingly so sometimes will sprinkle just one or two pieces of whole celtic grey into the pot. All rice except the white requires double the amount of water.  Whole grains serve as a great breakfast because they provide protein, brain fuel, and burn off readily with the day’s activities.  One cup of grain averages two servings.

Rice is a foundational stabilizing nutriment.  If you absolutely had to do only one grain, it should be rice.  But as much as you can, diversify all foods and the grains that are part and parcel of your day.  Rotate foods because each develops different tissue and provide balance.  P1030025

Here’s a spotlight on the array of rice options and their comparative profile in short:

White ~ Stripped of nutrients, especially ones that nourish the brain and nerves.  Nice sticky way to consume sugar.
Black ~ Superb source of nutrients and antioxidants. Less glutinous than white and more so than brown. Less dense and more digestible than short brown. Sweet, smoky, nutty flavor. Some Korean restaurants serve mixed rice with a small amount of the black purpling white rice and beans. All the friends I’ve introduced it to have liked the black rice a lot. It’s my favorite. You can find it in Korean markets.
Short grain brown ~ Glutinous, dense consistency.
Long grain brown, including jasmine and basmati ~ Lighter, fluffier, and digests a bit more easily than the short brown.

Amaranth and quinoa (keen wah) are technically seeds, though they cook like grain.  They are so small and light to begin with that the bobbers aren’t necessarily all bad.  Larger grains that are old and hollow are obvious because just a few, relative to the good ones, float.  I don’t toss all the amaranth that rise to the top when draining the starting water, especially because they’re not cheap.

Amaranth Oat Balls

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I rolled day-old cooked amaranth and bits of cooked gluten-free oatmeal into balls, together the width of a quarter.  My mantra: high-heat-kills-nutrients.  300 degrees, 50 minutes, depending on the thickness of your porridges.  Dip into or drizzle on blackstrap molasses.  If I’m going to sweeten something, I like to maximize the nutritional benefits.  Blackstrap is famous for its iron.  My boy scarfs these down.

How to Cook Beans

Soak 12 hours or overnight with about triple the amount of water to cover beans as they expand. Prepare less than you think you want because they bulk up.

1. Boil with extra water, at least double the amount of beans.
2. Half-lid the pot and turn up heat but keep on your toes to catch the boiling.
3. After about 15 minutes, pour out or skim off the froth, the GAS you don’t want to be blowing out.

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4. Replenish water with about double the amt of beans.
5. Recover boil, add a small strip of kombu to balance the proteins and oils in the legumes and make them more digestible. Simmer another hour or until beans are soft.
6, Add acidic foods like vinegar, lemon, or tomato and the sea salt the last 10 min or the beans won’t soften.
7. Spices like cumin, coriander, dill, turmeric, dried ginger go well with beans and make them tasty.

With beans, you’ll want to back off before you feel full. The happy satiety will come a bit after your last bite and keep you a good long while.

Children under 18 months have difficulty digesting most legumes.

Sweet & Spicy Red Bean Stew

tumblr_miwzm8dMwt1s6qk5ko1_1280I was craving sweet kidney beans. Cozied up this blustery day, Tennyson and I licked our lunch bowls clean. Shaped like their beneficiaries, these beans are good for — you guessed it — the kidneys. The designs of God! Among the many reasons we want to be kind to our kidneys is their upkeep of our reproductive system. This hearty dish welcomes a variety of veggies. Fennel or zucchini would’ve been great.

Soaked beans, 1/2-3/4 cup
Crimini mushroom
Garlic
White onion, 4 ringed slices
Chopped celery, 2 stalks
Olives optional or touch of oil
Small strip of Kombu

Cinnamon 1/2 tsp
Cumin up to 1 tsp
Sorghum syrup or sweetener of choice, 2 T or to taste
Red pepper paste 1/4 teaspoon optional
Sea Salt to taste, up to 1 tsp

Serves 2

Once you’ve added the kombu and/or are resimmering (per How To Cook Beans post), add the garlic, onion, and spices to get the flavor going. Best to add veggies toward the end so they don’t overcook and retain the enzymes and vitamins, but I felt like infusing the celery minerals into the soup this time and so tossed in the celery early. After about an hour, add the other vegetables, salt, pepper paste, and syrup. I procured pure red pepper paste in glass without the trappings of msg and sugar from H Mart, a Korean market. Stir and cook another few minutes. Add olives before serving. Their oil, or a quality oil, combines well with beans.

Variation

2 heaping T rice syrup
A little under 1 T tomato paste
Coriander spice makes everything delish

Rice syrup is a mild sweetener so you’ll need a little more. Sorghum is a grain, an important crop of Africa and South Asia. The syrup or molasses is sold at health food markets along with the rice syrup. Celery is one of my superfood secrets for delicious soup and broth. Some folks aren’t crazy about it raw, but the taste mellows when cooked while the sodium it gives up into the juices is the wonderful kind the body begs. And few veggies beat the silicon content that helps you absorb calcium and strengthens your bones.