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How to prepare amaranth-based desserts and savory entrees

When people see tiny amaranth grains, often the first response is how do you wash the grain if it's so small that it falls through the strainer? You use a tea strainer that has tinier openings. Cooking with amaranth goes in two directions: Desserts and stews. Let's start with a red quinoa and amaranth creamy, chocolate-flavored frozen dessert. Two tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder turns the dessert into a chocolate-flavored custard. You can sweeten the dessert with any type of dried fruit such as goji berries or raisins, chopped prunes or dates, an apple or two, (applesauce) or a banana.

How to prepare amaranth-based desserts and savory entrees.
How to prepare amaranth-based desserts and savory entrees.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Here's how to turn red quinoa and amaranth into what looks like chocolate ice cream if you're looking for a vegan, nondairy frozen dessert. You know real ice cream is at least 16 percent butterfat and made with dairy products. Everything else is called frozen desserts. You also may wish to check out other amaranth recipes at sites such as "Red, White and Blue Amaranth Pudding Recipe - Dessert," and the no-bake treat, "Amaranth Squares — La Fuji Mama."

When you puree almonds and walnuts in a blender with cooked grains such as amaranth and quinoa and add liquid such as almond or soy milk substitute, carob powder, cocoa powder, and two or three bananas, you then freeze what looks like a chocolate milk smoothie until it's the consistency of frozen dessert. This can be completely vegan if you don't use honey, but sweeten with bananas instead.

Assemble your ingredients: a cup or two of cooked red quinoa mixed with 1/2 cup cooked amaranth, a banana, one tablespoon of raw organic honey, a quart of almond milk, 1/2 cup of almonds, and 1/4 cup walnuts. Optional is a handful of cashews.

Cook a cup of amaranth and a cup quinoa--either red quinoa or yellow, mixed with water until the water is absorbed. When cooled, put it in your blender. Add two more cups of water, a handful of almonds and two handfuls of walnuts or cashews (or both).

You can add more almonds and cashews, if desired, up to 1/2 cup each. Optional: add a slice, about a one-inch piece of fresh ginger root to the blender. Instead of trying to wolf down dairy fats and processed sugar, make your frozen desserts look like ice cream, taste chocolate-like, and be made entirely from fruit and nuts.

Sweeten with stevia if you don't want sugary bananas as a sweetener

If you are allowed to eat bananas, for example two bananas can sweeten a smoothie made of cranberry juice. It's one way of eating sugary fruit while avoiding processed white table sugar, brown rice syrup, or fructose. Or you can use one banana and a tablespoon of raw organic creamed honey. The grain will be pureed into a liquid with the nuts and fruit and flavored as well as colored to look like chocolate milk by the half chocolate cocoa and half carob powder. If you like spices, you also can add a pinch of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.

In the blender, add one banana, two tablespoons of cocoa powder (unsweetened) and two tablespoons of carob powder. If the blend is too thick, thin with a little water, or use as liquid in your blender either unsweetened soy milk or almond milk instead of water.

The liquid should be thick, like a runny wallpaper paste

Blend everything until liquified. Freeze in containers or covered dessert bowls. Serve as you'd serve ice cream. If you want it sweeter, add a tablespoon of raw organic honey. Or if you can't have honey, add a little stevia powder to sweeten it more, if desired.

What you get when you eat this dessert is the equivalent of a bowl of cooked quinoa and amaranth which is a higher-protein grain than rice or oat groats. You get the healthier fats from the almonds and walnuts or cashews, and the sweet taste of the carob powder, cocoa powder and banana.

As a rule, don't emphasize too many sweets in your diet. Or it could unbalance the cortisol-insulin balance between your tired adrenals and resistant pancreas. Some people prefer walnuts and almonds to cashews. Freeze until firm. And eat like any nondairy frozen dessert.

Nondairy milk substitutes made from seeds or nuts

Perfect for liquids are these recipes for blending your own almond, chia seed, soy, hemp, rice, oat, hazelnut, walnut, cashew, sesame, sunflower, peanut, brazil nut, pecan, pistachio, chia seed, or flax seed 'milks.' Highly recommended blender is the Vita-Mix, but any blender set on liquefy will do. Instead of sweetening with honey or other sweeteners, use fruit, such as three small bananas or two large ones.

How about a glass of organic white chia seed dairy alternative 'milk?' According to the Raw Glow site, "Chiaseed's mucilaginous fibers make a barrier in the stomach between carbohydrates and digestive enzymes."

Chia seed 'milk,' gel, or puddings

Sacramento restaurants and ice creameries might offer those seeking nondairy frozen desserts an alternative that tastes pretty much like chocolate ice cream when frozen. How about frozen desserts made from steamed brown rice or cooked quinoa and amaranth? Did you know your favorite grains can be liquefied or pureed into smoothies and then frozen? All you need to do is add fruit or cocoa powder, carob, or any flavor you like from fruit juice to bananas and freeze.

The three main ingredients would be nuts, grains, and nondairy 'milks' such as soy, hemp, hazelnut, oats, almond, or rice milk. And you can make all these yourself by mixing liquid and nuts or grains and putting them in your blender to form a smooth liquid that looks like milk. Then sweeten with fruit and add flavorings from cocoa powder (unsweetened) to carob.

Nondairy frozen desserts can't call themselves ice cream, but they can taste that way

If you work at a restaurant in Sacramento serving vegan, vegetarian, or raw foods, you might suggest to the chef to market nondairy frozen desserts made with natural ingredients and no artificial sweeteners. Try out frozen desserts made from quinoa, amaranth, cocoa, carob, almonds, and walnuts.

Quinoa and amaranth raw can be ground into meal with an electric nut and seed grinder (or coffee grinder) and used as a flour mixed with grounded flax seeds (flax seed meal) and oat bran to make a cookie without eggs or milk. Just add raisins or other fruit, moisten with almond milk and bake at 350 degrees F. until the wetness is gone.

Sometimes it takes up to an hour of baking to finish. Otherwise, you can use ground almonds or other nuts and seeds with cut up fruit and some almond milk and form into balls to eat raw or dehydrated. Or sprinkle with coconut flakes and/or sesame seeds and chill overnight in the refrigerator until the ball shapes hold together.

Only use a good sweetener, not agave, but two bananas blended in a quart of almond milk or pure raw honey or stevia before you puree cooked red quinoa and amaranth to thicken the blend and then freeze it. Or you could suggest carrot ice cream, but made nondairy with coconut cream and carrot juice. Or check out the Sacramento's gluten free market. See the website, VegGuide.Org, Sacramento. Want a Buddhist vegetarian restaurant in Sacramento? Try, Andy Nguyen's Vietnamese Restaurant.

What would you suggest to the various vegan and vegetarian restaurants or bakeries? How about a frozen dessert nondairy creamerie using almonds, vegetables, fruits, and grains? You could offer carrot juice frozen dessert made with frozen carrot juice and raisins, for example. For a richer taste, here's how to turn cooked red quinoa and amaranth into a chocolate-tasting frozen dessert.

Why try to manage your weight with high saturated fat dairy desserts when you can make your own chocolate ice cream substitute using grains, nuts, and fruit. The only ingredients can be unsweetened almond milk, almonds, walnuts, cashews, one or two bananas, and a pot of cooked quinoa and amaranth. When you blend all the ingredients, they liquefy.

Here's how to make a healthy bok choy soup with amaranth to be eaten with a side of flax seed meal bread.

Cut off the top of a bok choy plant and wash each stalk. Put the cleaned bok choy vegetable in a blender with some water or broth. Chicken broth or vegetable broth can be used. You also could use vegetable juices. Puree the bok choy in the water or broth.

Add a 1/4 of amaranth. Simmer the bok choy in the liquid until the amaranth is soft and chewable, usually about 10 to 15 minutes or so. Add a few cooked, peeled purple potatoes or cooked peeled sweet potatoes to this soup. Serve the green soup with a side of flax seed meal flat bread. Here is the recipe for making the flax seed meal flat bread or wrap. Season with garlic and onion powder (optional).

If excess grains are rotting your child's teeth, you might bake a flaxseed flat bread or wrap with your child, showing children how to make alternative breads, cakes, crackers, and wraps that do not use any grain and are gluten-free. One of the easiest flat breads to make with your children is the flaxseed and spinach wrap. It looks like a large, round pancake or cracker, but tastes great. And it's simple to make as the basic ingredients are ground flax seeds, an egg, baking powder, and a chopped vegetable such as spinach.

Here's how to bake a simple flaxseed flat bread or wrap made with ground flax seeds, eggs, chopped spinach, baking powder, turmeric, and garlic powder. Since it uses no grain or gluten, it's ideal for someone who wants a wrap or bread that's gluten-free and grain-free.

For each flat bread or wrap you'll need a separate pan or pie plate. To make more than one, just double the recipe for each ball of 'dough.'

Ingredients for one round flat bread that fits in a 9 inch round pie pan.

3 tablespoons of ground flax seeds

1/4 teaspoon of non-aluminum baking powder (optional)

1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon of turmeric

1/4 teaspoon of celery seed

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon of chia seeds (optional)

1 tablespoon of coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup finely chopped baby spinach leaves

1 egg

Instructions

Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. You'll be baking the flatbread/wrap about 20 minutes or until firm to the touch.

In a dry grinder, grind up the flax seeds and the chia seeds. It's optional to use chia seeds as flax seeds alone will also be fine. You could add a variety of seeds to enrich the 'dough' such as a teaspoon of sesame seeds. But basically the bread or wrap can be made simply with ground flax seeds, an egg, and a tablespoon of water. Or you could substitute for the water, 1/4 cup of finely chopped spinach or chopped carrots. The wrap or flat bread is richer with the vegetables added. You can leave out the baking powder if you're on a no-added sodium/salt diet.

This makes a savory bread. If you wanted a sweet flat bread or wrap instead, more like a pancake, you could add finely chopped dried fruit or sliced banana to the dough.

Beat the egg with the 1/4 cup of finely chopped spinach leaves and add it to the dry seed mixture. Remember to double this recipe if you want to make more wraps. Mix well.

Grease a pie plate with coconut oil. If you're doubling this recipe, grease two pie plates. On a cutting board press out the dough in a thin, round circle. Press from the middle, like you're making a pizza or round shape. You also can use an inverted small saucer plate to make the edges round. When you have a round shape, lift it off the cutting board and put in into your pie plate.

Fix any tears or edges back into a round shape when the dough is in the greased pie pan. A glass pie plate made for oven use is good.

On top of the dough sprinkle some garlic powder and turmeric. Or you can mix the garlic powder and turmeric together and sprinkle it on top. Bake the round flat bread or wrap at about 350 degrees F. until it's done, about 20 minutes or until it's no longer wet in the middle when you touch the bread and it feels solid.

With a metal or wooden spatula, lift off the pie plate and flip over on a plate. You can decorate the wrap with sandwich fixings of your choice or eat like a cracker or flat cake. It also taste great topped with fish salad, egg salad, mushrooms, roasted vegetables, tomatoes, garlic, and onions, chopped green vegetables, or whatever you want to put on top or eat as is as a side dish along with a bowl of soup or stew, such as mushroom and salmon stew.

You can find a similar recipe for flaxseed wrap that uses slightly different ingredients on page 244, appendix B of the book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis, M.D. (Rodale) 2011. The book recipe uses paprika, onion powder and salt. But this recipe leaves out the paprika and onion powder and is a no-added salt food. You can use finely chopped garlic or garlic powder in place of salt or celery seed. Also this recipe uses chia seeds with the flax seeds.

You could also use a tablespoon of sesame seeds mixed with your chia seeds and flax seeds. Vary according to your preferences and choice of oils. Coconut oil is great as is olive or sesame seed oil. The recipe in the book uses a microwave. Since many people don't have microwaves, you can bake this flat bread in the oven at 350 degrees F. for about 20 minutes or until firm. But coconut oil does take the hot oven heat well.