Introduction: Popped Super Grain Amaranth and Fruit Tricolor Cracker
Amaranth is a super grain because it has 26g protein per cup (193g) (Wheat has 26g, rice has 5g), a complete protein profile, a good source of key vitamins, minerals such as calcium and iron, and a good source of fiber. Not only that, it is one of the alternative grains for wheat free or gluten free diet.
When I started an elimination diet of dairy, egg, fish and shell fish, peanut and tree nuts, soy, wheat, rice, corn, millet, and tapioca for my baby due to food protein allergies and intolerances, I found I was dying of lack of protein intake from the dozen regular foods that were eliminated for now. When I found out about amaranth's super food profile I immediately bought a bag of amaranth.
Based on the information on the bag, boil amaranth in water, fluff with a fork, and I shall have something like rice to eat. What a lie! It looked and tasted like the sand in a river bed. I ate it anyway because nothing else to eat and prayed I wouldn't get stomachache or die. I ate it for three more days. Good news is my baby was fine with me eating it. That's when I started to do research and experiment with it.
When I read somewhere amaranth can be popped like popcorn and eaten like cereal, I immediately dropped some in my popcorn air popper. Silly me! They all fell through the air holes at the bottom of the popper, I had to disassemble it to dump the grains out. Then I tried non stick pot to pop it. It worked but I didn't like the idea of dry heating non-stick pot and shaking it over the burner. Popping totally does the justice. I like the nutty flavor of popped amaranth. So I tried popping it with a stainless steel pot I have, it worked well. I'm happy heating and shaking the pot, soon became a pro amaranth popper, amaranth became the new wheat and rice for me, a hero and super food for me because of its protein amount, protein profile and other nutrition stats.
Once amaranth popped, like it is said, it can be eaten as puff cereal; used as one of major granola components. Since I have been on the total elimination diet, I found it is impossible to find any snack in stores for me. So I developed this cracker that I can pop it in my mouth at any time and eat as finger food. It is crunchy like corn chips with sweet and tangy fruit flavor. If anyone in a party happens to be on as restrictive diet as I'm on and finds there is such tasty, healthy cracker to eat, they'll cry a river I think. On elimination diet or not, anybody can enjoy this cracker. To get popping and crunching, below are what were used:
1 cup dry amaranth (makes about 4 and 1/2 cups popped amaranth) for 3 types of crackers
100g dried apricot and 120g frozen peaches for yellow cracker (fresh peaches if in season)
100g dried prune and 120g frozen peaches for dark cracker (fresh peaches if in season)
100g dried apricot and 2 small to medium kiwi fruit for light greenish cracker
Below are the 1-2-3 steps to make it.
Step 1: Pop Amaranth
A stainless steel pot with long handle and see through glass lid is a must.
Heat the pot on medium to high heat for a few minutes.
Drop only 1/4 tsp or so amaranth to test the temperature, if the grains pop immediately and become dark in color, the pot is too hot; if the grains takes long to pop or not pop but become dark in color, the pot is not hot enough, discard the burnt batch, adjust the heat and time you drop the second batch of the dry grains and it is the right hotness at any second. Once it's ready, you can keep popping without stopping.
Please view my video for reference.
Step 2: Prepare Fruit
Use TIME DEFROST function to defrost frozen peaches on bursts of 3 minutes until defrosted.
Chopped dried apricot and dried plum to small pieces.
Peel and cut kiwi to chunks.
Add each pair of fruits to your blend.
Use Pulse and High Puree or whatever function that works to blend the fruits to thick puree. Add water 1 tbsp. at a time to get your blender going if it's too thick for it. I didn't need to add any water for the cracker using fresh kiwi.
Empty the puree to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. to be sure, I used a lightly oily brush on the parchment paper.
Spread the puree to a consistent thin layer on the baking sheet, the thinner the better, I used a soft tip spatula. It actually takes time to do this. I found doing it slowly is the quickest way to do it.
Generously sprinkle popped amaranth over the fruit base, I used one cup per sheet. Pat over the top so they stay bound.
Step 3: Bake
Bake at lowest oven temperature which is 170F on mine for 4 hours. Set timer at 3 hours to check on it.
When you break off a small piece on the edge and it's crunchy, it's done. When it's cool, it will be crunchier.
Peel away the parchment paper, let it cool.
Break the whole sheet to small pieces or use kitchen rotary cutter or scissors to cut to small pieces. If you want the cracker to be regular shapes and sizes, remove it from oven at 3 hour point when it's still hot and pliable, cut it to regular crackers, return it to oven to bake until they are crunchy.
Store in airtight container if not consumed right away.
Step 4: Serve
Serve just it or sprinkle light sea salt to add zest to the flavor.
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