What is it about seeds and whole grains that makes me feel so good?
Somehow I always forget just how incredible it feels to start my morning with a bowl of whole grains. They pack such a huge hit of nutrition and energy, without weighing you down. They also hit the spot. You know, that spot in your stomach that certain foods just hit, and all of a sudden you feel all full and satisfied and happy?
It’s like the food g-spot. Err… something like that.
While T-Hubs and I were away on our honeymoon, we fell madly in love with a little restaurant called The Green Salmon. I already raved on and on about them, so I won’t go into all the details about how great they were. One of the things on their menu stood out above the others, though, and bears a little raving about itself: a simple bowl of “whole grain” hot cereal consisting of slow-cooked amaranth, quinoa, and polenta, topped with a drizzle of maple syrup and fresh berries.
It sounds simple, I know, and for a moment I almost considered ordering something else because of all the amazing options to choose from… but I am so glad I didn’t, because that bowl of porridge hit the spot.
From the first bite, I knew I had to figure out how to make it myself.
Mm — it’s like a little piece of our vacation, here at home! And the best part is, it’s easy to make a big batch and reheat the leftovers all week long. I’m not gonna lie, I could eat this every single day and never get tired of it.
Before we go on to the recipe, let’s take a quick minute to appreciate just how awesome these “grains” are.
Amaranth and quinoa are technically seeds, not grains, but because they are used like grains they have been given the honorary title “pseudo-grains”. My mother always told me, knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, but wisdom is not putting a tomato in a fruit salad. Similarly, knowledge is knowing that amaranth and quinoa are seeds, but wisdom is not really giving a crap and calling your porridge “whole grain” anyway. ‘Kay?
You’re probably already familiar with quinoa, which has been in the spotlight as a nutritional “superfood” for quite a while now because of its high protein and calcium content, but it seems like amaranth has managed to fly a little more under the radar.
Amaranth seeds contains nearly the same amount of protein as quinoa, including a couple essential amino acids which are lacking in most other grains, not to mention almost three times the calcium. They’re also high in fiber, packed full of vitamins and minerals, easy to digest, and have a wide range of uses (from porridge, to popped like popcorn). The plant also happens to be super easy to grow — in fact, it’s considered a weed by many — which has me wondering why we aren’t solving the world’s hunger with these incredible little seeds!
Combine all that with some nutrient-rich polenta (which is a grain, just for the record), and you have yourself a bowl of complete protein, high fiber, vitamin-packed awesomeness. Oh, and it’s gluten-free and vegan. And delicious. Did I mention the delicious?
Amaranth, Quinoa, and Polenta Porridge
(makes about 3 cups, or 2-3 big servings)
1/3rd cup dry amaranth seeds
1/3rd cup dry quinoa
1/3rd cup dry polenta (or coarse grits)
3 1/2 cups water
Milk or non-dairy substitute, to taste (optional)
Cinnamon, maple syrup, fruit/berries, nuts, seeds, or other toppings, as desired
Add the amaranth, quinoa, and polenta to a medium saucepan along with all of the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 16-18 minutes, or until most of the water has been absorbed and the grains are tender to chew. Stir occasionally while cooking, scraping the bottom of the pot to keep the seeds from sticking. Be careful not to leave them on the stove too long, or else they may weld themselves to the bottom of the pan.
Remove from the heat, and serve immediately. Top with a little milk or non-dairy substitute, along with any other toppings you desire (I like mine with fresh berries and maple syrup, but the possibilities are endless).
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and reheated on the stove or in the microwave with a splash more water or milk to loosen them up.
(There are plenty of variations you could try with this, such as adding chopped apples and spices at the beginning of cooking, or pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice for a fall twist. Topped with walnuts and pecans, and a drizzle of maple syrup — mmm! Feel free to experiment with this recipe using whatever ingredients you like!)
This porridge would be perfect for the cool Fall mornings. Looks delicious!
Indeed! I can’t wait to make this on chilly mornings. Yum!
I’ve never tried amaranth before, but I think I may have to seek some out now that I have such a good plan of what to do with it! Yay grains!
This was the first time I had cooked with it, myself. Since I was experimenting, I only bought a little… now I’ve made this porridge four times, and have to go get more already! I definitely plan to keep it around as a staple from now on. :)
This looks wonderful –
It seems like the polenta may be the “base” or “glue” that holds this together.
BUT I’m allergic to corn, so I can’t have the polenta.
Any ideas for a substitute for the polenta?
Subbing the polenta should be no problem at all!
I’ve seen plenty of recipes for straight-up amaranth porridge (no polenta, no quinoa), so swapping it out for another 1/3rd cup of amaranth should work just fine. Or you could try using buckwheat groats in place of the polenta — I plan to give that a try myself, just for some variety (and because I like the taste). There’s a chance that the buckwheat will need a slightly longer cooking time, though. If the “grains” aren’t tender once most of the water has been absorbed, just add a little more water and continue to cook until they’ve reached a consistency to your liking.
Hope that helps!
Update: I just made a batch of porridge using buckwheat groats in place of the polenta. Here’s what I found using whole (not ground) buckwheat groats:
The buckwheat absorbs much less water than the polenta, so I found I actually needed about 1/2-3/4 cup less water in total. The porridge took approximately 15-17 minutes to cook until tender.
You are right that the polenta acts as a binder, and because the buckwheat is so much less starchy the porridge is definitely a little less thick. However, the texture is great, and the flavor is just as good as with the corn (with just the mildest hint of buckwheat).
I plan to alternate between using buckwheat and polenta, just to mix things up. I think both are great! Just keep in mind that buckwheat is often processed around regular wheat, and it can contain traces of gluten unless you find some that is certified gluten-free. Just a heads-up in case that matters.
I have found that ground flax seeds work well as a thickener. You’d likely need to use less than a 1/3 cup to thicken the porridge but adding more water if it is too thick would work.
I’ve never had amaranth before but that’s about to change VERY soon!
I think we can all agree that my body is a sugar and butter infused temple. HOWEVER, at breakfast time? I loves me a bowl of healthy. Also, I loves me a WARM bowl of healthy. This porridge fits the bill, and will, in all likelihood, give me superpowers.
Haha — let’s not get too carried away, we all know the butter and sugar give you your super powers. ;)
I love, love, love Bob’s Red Mill Wheat Farina Hot Cereal…wondering if that might work instead of the polenta? I’ll be experimenting with it this weekend for sure.
Sounds good — let me know how it goes!
I couldn’t agree more, this looks like it would hit the spot! :) I love the berries and hint of sweetness.
I love it …Yum.
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Thanks Rena, I’ll be sure to stop by!
Haven’t had amaranth in a few years – I love the idea of it mixed up w the quinoa/polenta…
This looks like an awesome breakfast! I love quinoa and have a bag of amaranth waiting to be used.
Willow, never did I expect to find such a gorgeous photo of porridge, of all things! Sounds delicious too!
This is the time of year that I start to change over to the hot cereals for breakfast- this looks so amazing and I love the fact you can make a big batch for the week!
A little late to the party, but this was delicious! I have to stop dairy consumption for a while and have been trying to come up with other ways to have protein (other than eggs) for breakfast since my go to was cereal with milk. I’ll have to make a big pot of this to have around as well. Oh, and my husband and I stopped at The Green Salmon on our honeymoon too. We drove along the coast from San Francisco to Vancouver, BC so we only got to go the one time, but hopefully we’ll get to go again. We live not too far away, being near Portland.
Awesome, I’m glad you liked it! And that sounds like an incredible honeymoon. If I lived in the Portland area I would be back to The Green Salmon in a heartbeat — we fell in love with it while we were there!
I can’t wait to try and make this! Looks delicious. I was doing research for a blog post on amaranth and found the recipe — I included you here: http://thescoutproject.org/edible-plants-a-to-z-amaranth/
Thanks, Libby! So much great information, there — thank you for including my recipe! :)
I am not a nutritionist, so my only advice would be to look up the individual ingredients used in the recipe and add their nutritional information together (you’ll find plenty of sites that have this information by googling something like “nutritional information polenta, dry” and then calculating as necessary for the amount called for in the recipe. I can tell you that there’s a lot of fiber and protein in those grains, which always makes me feel full and satisfied when I eat a bowl of this for breakfast!
Hope that helps!
Had this at the Green Salmon in Yachats,Or. recently and it was crazy good! I told the cashier how much I enjoyed it with their 3 berry mix and maple syrup on the side, and he said “yes and it will stay with you a long time.” He was right…never had any hunger till about 6 hours later…off to buy some amaranth which I ihave never cooked with before. Thank you for creating another healthy alternative for a filling breakfast!
Thank you so much for this comment, Deborah! Isn’t their food the best? I would frequently get this to-go, and they’d give it to you in one of those large carry-out coffee cups, and that thing would last me all day. I hope you like my version!
this sounds heavenly! i have made quinoa for breakfast before (with soymilk + blueberries), but usually do plain oats if i do grains. however, i have a bunch of amaranth to use up!! and i really want to try polenta and this just gives me another reason :)
I hope you try it! This is one of my favorite breakfasts, and I love that together the amaranth, quinoa, and polenta make a complete protein. It keeps me full for ages!
I love the Green Salmon and have had this there and wanted it again.
Thank you for this recipe :)
Green Salmon has fantastic food and drinks.
Aren’t they the best?? I went there again recently and this was no longer on their menu — such a shame! I’m so glad I was able to recreate it at home so I can make it any time. I hope you enjoy the recipe!
Just cooked and ate this porridge. It is a good as described. I actually made it in my rice cooker and it came out perfect. I not so great with keeping things from glueing to the bottom of a pot! Thank!
Thanks Paige, glad you liked it! I never would have thought to use a rice cooker for this, it’s great to know it can be made that way.
This sounds tasty! Have you tried it with teff or millet in addition to/instead of one of the grains?
Hi Becky! I haven’t personally tried using teff or millet, but I bet they would work great here. The polenta plays a big part in the texture of the porridge, but you could swap the quinoa or amaranth pretty easily, or add another grain in addition to these three. I hope that helps!
Do you think I could soak all those grains in the liquid overnight and cook it up in the morning?