It is Tuesday morning. I am sitting at my new desk in my new office staring out at my new neighbors’ backyard. The multi-colored pinwheels that dot their yard are spinning slowly. The rhythmic swoosh of cars that drive down the main road remind me that the day is passing, slowly, but steadily. Downstairs, the living room is bathed with the warm sunlight that continuously pours in all morning and even though I can’t see it yet, the brand new leather couch is fading away under this bright light.
We have been here for one month and eight days; I am still learning the rhythms of our new home. John and I are also learning our own rhythms here in this house. This year will mark our fourth year of marriage, and I am certain that it has been our best year yet.
For the past four years when we were renting, everything had felt temporary: Why buy a new couch if we are just here for a year or two? Why paint that wall? Why invest in this or that relationship, if we might move soon? But now, with a thirty year lease to prove it, I feel that we are in this for the long haul.
At work too I am finding my rhythm. I am a fourth year teacher now. It is the first time in 8 years that I am not searching for the next job, or the next thing. My school, my students, they too feel like home. In fact, I love my students so much that I am considering spending a week in another country with them this summer for fun. All these things have been a blessing from the Lord. I have been so thankful for the first month of this new season in our lives.
Last week, in my new kitchen, these amaranth bars came to me rather serendipitously. When I was younger, my mother had always bought tiny, popped amaranth kernels in plastic bags, so I was astonished to find that you could buy amaranth grains “pre-popped” (or that the amaranth that I bought was even “popped”).
One quick look at the bag of amaranth I’d purchased from Whole Foods revealed that these grains were not at all like the grains my mom bought. An alegría recipe on the back of the bag explained to me that the amaranth I’d seen all my life was in fact already popped. Intrigued, I set out to pop amaranth. Two tablespoons of burned amaranth grains later, I was popping these grains like a pro.
Amaranth seeds come from an amaranth plant that can also be consumed as a green like in this soup I made last summer. When boiled, the grains remind me of tiny quinoa with a subtle popcorn taste. When popped, they are often turned to sweet treats called alegrías, which I had always thought of as old lady candy when I was a kid. Alegrías consist of popped amaranth, piloncillo (brown sugar), and assorted nuts and dried fruits.
Apparently, as an old lady myself now, I was craving alegrías last Sunday when I popped my amaranth, but upon seeing and smelling the tiny popped grains filling my kitchen with the smell of quinoa popcorn, I had a new idea. What if I made chocolate “rice” krispy treats with them? Or chocolatey alegrías? Lo and behold, these luscious, five ingredient, chocolate amaranth krispy treats were born.
The process is simple: while you pop your amaranth, melt down coconut oil, chocolate, honey and tahini into a sauce in a small saucepan. Then, combine the popped amaranth with the sauce, pour it into a greased container and pop it in the refrigerator until it sets.
These amaranth krispy treats are delicious and healthy (ish). They are refined sugar free, vegan, and gluten free. Thanks to the amaranth, they are also high in protein, fiber, a ton of minerals and vitamins (like iron, magnesium, calcium and vitamin B) and most importantly, utterly delicious!
I am currently eating some with zero guilt. Let me know if you make them. Also, let’s have a conversation: let me know, what do you feel like you are learning in this stage of life?
Notes: Popping amaranth is easy once you follow a few basic rules. First, allow saucepan to heat on medium-high heat. If you sprinkle water on the pan, it should sizzle and dance around the pan. Add amaranth, no more than a tablespoon or two of amaranth grains at a time and cover with lid to prevent amaranth grains from popping out of the pan onto the rest of your kitchen. Wait until most of the amaranth has popped, about 30 seconds. Immediately remove from heat and place popped amaranth in a container to cool. Keep popping!
Chocolate Amaranth Krispy Treats
Yields: 12 small bars
- 2-2.5 cups of popped amaranth
- ½ cup of your favorite dark chocolate
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons of honey, or your favorite sweetener
- Optional add ins: sesame seeds, chocolate chips, nuts
- If you are not working with popped amaranth, pop amaranth according to directions on the bag or look at my notes above.
- In a heavy bottom small saucepan on low heat melt coconut oil. Then add chocolate and once it’s melted down add tahini and honey. Stir until uniform consistency. Turn heat off and remove pan from heat.
- Stir in popped amaranth and optional add ins.
- Pour into a greased, or lined container and smooth out top.
- Allow to set for 20 minutes in fridge.
- Cut into your preferred size and enjoy!