Amaranth: it pops!

Here's the latest installment of my "what I learned in food testing" chronicles: Amaranth, a teeny tiny, nutritious, complete-protein, gluten-free grain, can be popped like popcorn! The raw, pale yellow grain (look for it in bulk bins) is as hard as a rock, so it's usually cooked; but a recipe I made last week called for popping it. Here's the procedure: Heat a 2 quart pot on very high heat; when heated, add a few amaranth kernels. When they pop, add 1 tablespoon amaranth and shake the pot constantly until most are popped, about 30 seconds. They turn white, like tiny little puffballs -- and they're a crunchy, fun texture, great for adding to cookies, bars, over cereal, or eaten straight. Don't be tempted to pop more than a tablespoon at a time, though; it burns easily, and too much in the pan won't pop evenly. (Yes, I found this out the hard way.)

Amaranth is also available ground up as a flour, and flaked as a cereal.

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