Popped Amaranth Breakfast Cereal

amaranth, whole grains, gluten-free, popped, crunchy, healthy, nutritious,

Now that the temperatures are up and the sun is out I am no longer craving warm breakfasts as I did a month ago. Smoothies are okay, but sometimes I just want something to chew on. Instead of grabbing some granola (which is often rich in oil and sugar) I opt for a more nutrient dense and fiber rich option.


For everyone, especially those following gluten free lifestyle, this cereal packs quite the nutrient punch. Amaranth is similar to quinoa, a small “pseudograin” or seed grown on a tall broad leaf plant. Amaranth, like quinoa, is rich in fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals. Interestingly it contains up to 4x as much calcium and 2x as much iron and magnesium than whole wheat. Plus, amaranth is rich in lysine in comparison to other cereal grains, containing about 2x more lysine than whole wheat. Since amaranth contains more lysine per weight than other grains, it is considered a “complete” protein just like quinoa.

amaranth, whole grains, gluten-free, popped, crunchy, healthy, nutritious,  

So how do you prepare amaranth for breakfast??

Well you can prepare it like other grains into porridge. However, that is my least favorite way to eat it for breakfast. I would rather enjoy amaranth POPPED. Just like corn kernels, amaranth when heated over high heat, pops and creates small puffed crunchy bites. When mixed with other delicious things like roasted nuts and seeds, some dried fruit and spices, the combination is super tasty without a lot of extra oil or sugar. Plus you get that tasty CRUNCH texture. I am all about the crunch!

amaranth, whole grains, gluten-free, popped, crunchy, healthy, nutritious,
amaranth, whole grains, gluten-free, popped, crunchy, healthy, nutritious,

What do you need to pop amaranth?

You don't need any fancy tools in order to pop amaranth. You don't even need oil! It's a very simple and easy. Popping amaranth just requires a few regular kitchen tools to get started. 
  • Deep and wide sauce pan or deep sauté pan with a lid
  • Wooden spoon
  • Tablespoon measurer
  • Hot pads
  • Dry amaranth 

How do you pop amaranth?

Before beginning be prepared to accidentally burn the first batch until you get the heat right. Every stove top is different. But once you got it down...its easy from here on out. Enjoy watching these cute little seeds pop in the pan...and hopefully not jump around your whole kitchen! 

1. Heat your pan over medium high heat until really hot.
2. Start with a test batch. Add 1 tablespoon of amaranth to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon. The amaranth should start popping within a second or two. If they have not started popping the pan is not hot enough.
3. Continue to stir until the amaranth seeds begin to pop, then you have reached the proper temperature.
4. Cover with the lid and shake the pan from side to side until the popping softens.
5. Remove lid and once again stir with the wooden spoon to keep the amaranth from burning as the remainder pops.
6. Pour into a small bowl and repeat! Do not add more than 1 tablespoon at a time. Often the first batch gets burnt because the seeds are on the heat too long. Usually the second batch is just perfect.

Note: Usually 4 tablespoons of dry amaranth makes ~ 1 cup of popped amaranth.

amaranth, whole grains, gluten-free, popped, crunchy, healthy, nutritious,
amaranth, whole grains, gluten-free, popped, crunchy, healthy, nutritious,
amaranth, whole grains, gluten-free, popped, crunchy, healthy, nutritious,

What to do with popped amaranth?

Once you have a batch of popped amaranth you have many culinary options in which to put them to use! I enjoy popped amaranth most as a cereal and in place of rice puffs in a whole foods energy bar. I love crunchy textures...so I just start adding the popped amaranth to everything. Simply get creative!
  • Make POPPED AMARANTH CEREAL and serve with plain yogurt or nut milk.
  • Add crunch to salad with a 1-2 tablespoons popped amaranth.
  • Stir popped amaranth into a pancake mix to increase nutrient density.
  • Use in place of popped rice in homemade granola bars/energy balls.
The recipe below is super tasty and versatile. Feel free to swap out/in your favorite ingredients. For example in place of the walnuts you can use hazelnuts or pecans. In place of the dried currants you can use dried cranberries, dried blueberries, or chopped dried apricots. Play around with this as you like! I love to serve mine with Nancy's plain yogurt or my homemade nut milk (using 1/2 pecans and 1/2 cashews). Yum!! 

Popped Amaranth Breakfast Cereal
Serves 4-6

1 cup popped amaranth (see above)
¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
¼ cup dried fruit (I used currants)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon cinnamon or cardamom
½ teaspoon coconut sugar/brown sugar
Pinch sea salt
¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup rolled oats


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl add the popped amaranth, shredded coconut, dried fruit, and chia seeds and set aside.

In a small bowl toss the pumpkin seeds, olive oil, cinnamon/cardamom, coconut sugar and sea salt. Pour on one end of the parchment lined baking sheet, using only about 1/3 of the space. Add the walnuts in the second third and the oats in the final third. Roast for ~8-10 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned.

Once roasted coarsely chop the walnuts and add to the popped amaranth. Then pour in the pumpkin seeds and rolled oats to the amaranth mixture and stir to combine. Allow to cool (you don't want steam to condense in your container) and then pour into an airtight container.

Serve with ½ cup plain whole milk yogurt (sub soy/coconut milk yogurt as desired) and fresh fruit. Or top with 1 cup nut milk and fresh fruit.

Note: I usually make a double batch because I also love to eat this cereal for breakfast and sometimes as a snack too!

One ½ cup serving of this delicious cereal provides ~220kcal, 23g carbs, 5g of fiber, 13g fat, 7g of plant protein, and 30% of your daily magnesium!!


1. World's Healthiest Foods. http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=231. Accessed April 19, 2016. 
2. Whole Grains Council. http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/amaranth-may-grain-of-the-month-0. Accessed April 19, 2016. 

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