I decided to experiment with a recipe for alegrias after a client asked me about them. These are a classic mexican treat, and because they’re made with amaranth, she wanted to know if they could be considered healthy.
My response is that amaranth is high in fiber and protein (relative to other grains), but we still want to think about sugar content and protein. So I would recommend choosing the ones that have nuts or seeds in them to add some more protein and pairing with an additional source of protein.
I also have my own recipe that I make that uses about half the sugar. Since they’re less sweet these can even be treated as a breakfast option (similar to a granola bar).
My main tip is to make sure you only pop the amaranth one teaspoon at a time. If you crowd the amaranth in the pan they won’t pop in time and they will burn!
Alegrías (Amaranth bars)
- 1/3 cup amaranth
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup pepitas
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pop the amaranth:
- Heat a saucepan over medium heat
- Place one teaspoon of the amaranth in the saucepan and immediately cover with a lid.1/3 cup amaranth
- Shake the pan for 10-15 seconds, holding the lid tight.
- Return the pan to the burner. The amaranth should start popping almost immediately.
- Once the popping has slowed down or stopped (approximately 10-20 seconds) remove the lid and place the popped amaranth into a bowl to set aside.
- Repeat with the remaining amaranth, one teaspoon at a time.
Make the mixture:
- Once all the amaranth has been popped and set aside, reduce the heat to low and add 1/3 cup honey to the saucepan.1/3 cup honey
- Add the vanilla and cinnamon to the honey. Stir to combine.1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Once the honey starts to boil, remove from heat, continuing to stir.
- Add the amaranth, a bit a time to the honey mixture. Stirring while you add it. (You may not need to use all of the amaranth, the mixture should be thick but still sticky).
Prepare the bars:
- Grease a rectangular pan
- Sprinkle the pepitas into the pan, evenly distributing.1/3 cup pepitas
- Press the amaranth-honey mixture into the pan, over the pepitas. Pack down tightly.
- Let sit for 2-3 hours.
- Run a knife along the edge of the pan to loosen the alegrias. Flip the pan upside down onto a cutting board to remove the alegrias. Cut into 6 bars.