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Creamy Amaranth Porridge Recipe – A Gluten-Free Ancient Grain

by Jeanette on January 20, 2011 · 10 Comments
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Amaranth is a Highly Nutritious Gluten-Free “Ancient Grain”

In my last post, I talked about our recent discovery that my youngest son “A” has numerous food allergies. First I want to thank all of you who have reached out and shown your support and encouragement, as it has reminded me how important family and community are when one is faced with challenges.  Some of you have also shared some terrific suggestions (including introducing me to a whole world of gluten-free/special diet bloggers) for which I am grateful for. If there are any recipes, ingredients, or other information that you think might be helpful, I would love to hear from you.

One of the first challenges I faced was what to make for breakfast now that my son has to eat gluten-free. Oatmeal, or vegetarian refried beans with a poached egg, a piece of fruit and a glass of milk had been my little guy’s go-to breakfast foods during the school week. Sometimes I would make banana or pumpkin muffins. But now that gluten, dairy, eggs, yeast and sugar are a problem, he can’t have any of these foods. I’ve had to search for alternative breakfast foods. Even oatmeal, which says gluten-free on the package, apparently, can be troublesome for those with gluten allergies, as oats contain a relatively
similar protein.

When my son first went gluten-free, breakfast was simply a corn tortilla spread with vegetarian refried red beans (“frijoles rojos volteados”) that I found in the ethnic aisle at the grocery store.  High in fiber and protein, and low in saturated fat (cooked with vegetable oil versus the traditional lard), this was an easy, healthy breakfast alternative. However, after a week of eating the same thing every morning, “A” wanted something different (can you blame him!), and I needed a few more choices. Cold cereals have not worked because my son has never been a cold cereal eater, and he doesn’t like the taste of nut/grain milks unless they’re mixed into hot cereals or smoothies. I have also looked at non-dairy yogurts, but found the sugar content was high.

I wanted to make something nutritious and filling, something hot, creamy and comforting, like the bowl of oatmeal he used to enjoy, so I began exploring alternative gluten-free grains. “A” had tried quinoa as a hot breakfast cereal (it was “ok”), but he had never tried amaranth, buckwheat, millet, chia, teff, or sorghum. 

I had some amaranth in my cabinet and had been meaning to try making it, so this was the perfect time to give it a go. Amaranth is considered an ancient grain (although technically it’s a seed), cultivated for over 8000 years in Central and South America. Amaranth seeds come from a leafy plant (which is also edible), and are the size of poppy seeds. Amaranth is one of the most nutritious “grains,” containing more fiber and protein than most other grains, and is also high in calcium, magnesium and iron. One cup of cooked amaranth has 5 grams of dietary fiber and 9 grams of protein.

My first attempt at making Amaranth Porridge was in the crockpot. I thought it would be a great idea to have breakfast ready as soon as “A” woke up. It was a disaster. The top was dried and crusty the next morning. I have since found a
crockpot recipe that calls for placing a towel over the top of the crockpot before putting the lid on…maybe this works? Anyway, I started over, this time cooking a pot of amaranth on the stovetop. Amaranth takes about 20-25 minutes to cook to a creamy consistency. With a little honey, cinnamon and coconut milk, amaranth tastes like cream of wheat. Thank goodness my little guy liked this! I’ve read that amaranth can also be used in baked goods and popped like popcorn, so that will be on my list of new things to try.

Creamy Amaranth Porridge

Most recipes I’ve seen call for a ratio of 3 cups of water to 1 cup of amaranth. I’ve found that 4 cups are needed to achieve the creamy consistency I was looking for. I used raw honey as a sweetener as it is unprocessed and contains anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal phytonutrients.  Add your favorite dried or fresh fruit, and some toasted nuts on top when serving. Stirring towards the end of the cooking time is especially important to ensure a creamy consistency. This can be made ahead of time and reheated with a little added water.

Creamy Amaranth Porridge

Creamy Amaranth Porridge

Printable Recipe
1 cup amaranth seeds
4 cups water
fresh or dried fruit of your choice
raw honey, ground cinnamon, and light coconut milk for serving

Combine amaranth seeds and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower heat to a simmer and cook, stirring, until creamy, about 20-25 minutes. Be sure to stir constantly the last five minutes of cooking (porridge will sputter). If porridge seems thick, add more water. Stir in fruit, raw honey, cinnamon and coconut milk before serving.

More On Amaranth:
Goodbye Wheat, Hello Amaranth, Say Consumers, MSNBC
Amaranth: A Gluten Free Grain Packed With Nutrition, Associated Content
10 Reasons To Use Amaranth In Your Gluten Free Recipes, About.com
Amaranth – May Grain of the Month, The Whole Grains Council

Recipes Using Amaranth:
Simple Amaranth Porridge, La Grande Evita
Amaranth Stir Fry, Ecurry
Amaranth Persimmon Muffins with Streusel Topping, Book of Yum
Gluten-free Vegan Amaranth Flatbread, Book of Yum
Gluten-free Amaranth Cracker, Book of Yum

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  1. Pretend Chef says:

    I've been meaning to tell you what an incredibly strong woman I find you to be. I'm not sure how I would handle news of my little guy having a slew of food allergies. I am happy to hear that you have found some new recipes to try for him. That is a bowl of love I would like to wake up to! Stay strong!

  2. Thanks for your encouragement. I think motherly instincts just kick in when you're trying to help your child fight off whatever is attacking his body. Food is love!

  3. oldwaystable.org says:

    Thanks for linking to the Whole Grains Council, Jeanette! We also made this video about how to pop amaranth, it's one of my favorites: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqbQDKxDyW4

  4. I was wondering how to pop amaranth, so thanks for the link to this video!

  5. Feast on the Cheap says:

    This looks wonderful Jeanette, your little man is very lucky to have such a wonderful mama.

    I'm sure you've been inundated with website suggestions, but http://thehealthyapple.com is another terrific resource for gluten-free foods.

  6. Thanks, I welcome any all suggestions, so please keep them coming!

  7. Gabrielle says:

    Hi, thank you so much for this recipe! I have been struggling for some time to get my Amaranth just right; it always seems gooey. My son too has more than his share of food allergies (each month we find something new).
    Just a note; we are using Goat Milk products and my little guy seems to be doing just fine with it. We have found yogurt, cheese & milk at our local store – also looking into making our own cream cheese & sour cream. Best of luck!

    • Hi Gabrielle – amaranth is definitely more “gooey” than other grains, but I think if you use goat milk as you do or another milk to loosen up the porridge, it makes a big difference in the consistency. So fun that you’re trying to make your own goat milk cream cheese and sour cream!

  8. Hi Jeanette! Great looking porridge ~ need to start using more amaranth.

  9. Great article. awesome content I look forward to reading your
    other posts. :)

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