Cinco de Mayo is coming up fast! How 'bout some traditional Mexican cuisine?
Many Latin American food items are naturally gluten free - corn, amaranth, quinoa (KEE-nwah), and potatoes. When you're first learning to go gluten free, cooking some of these can seem quite intimidating. They seem just so foreign!
Well, let me tell you, they aren't as scary as you may believe. We are all very familiar with corn, so let's start with amaranth. Many traditional Mexican dishes are made with it. You can buy it in any supermarket as a whole grain (cook like rice per package directions) or flour. If your store doesn't carry it, or you don't have a Whole Foods near you (or the Whole Foods doesn't carry it), you can buy Bob's Red Mill brand through Amazon.
Amaranth is one of the many "supergrains", even though it's technically not a grain. It's high in fiber and protein. It's a good source of calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, copper, magnesium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B5 and Vitamin C. Compared to wheat, it has 3 times more fiber and 5 times more iron, and it's 90% digestible. Which is good news for anyone with digestive issues, those recovering from disease, and people coming off a fast. It also has twice the calcium of milk - also good for those with dairy issues.
Today we are having Atole, a traditional Mexican breakfast beverage. It's warm and creamy and rich. And it's good for you, too. My version is adapted from a recipe found here at the VersaGrain website.
1 cup amaranth flour
4 cups water, milk or cream (I use half-and-half because I like mine really thick and creamy)
1/4 cup brown sugar (regular, demarara or turbinado)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped or vanilla extract to taste
In a medium saucepan, whisk liquid into flour. Heat over medium heat until it begins to thicken, whisking gently but constantly. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla bean and seeds (or vanilla). Continue cooking and whisking until thickened and starting to bubble. Serve hot.
You can even add grated chocolate to this. I haven't tried that yet, but trust me, the day is coming!
This is like a hug in a mug. Oh, is it rich and creamy! Almost like a hot, liquid-y rice pudding. Mmmmm.
No amaranth flour? Substitute finely ground white cornmeal or rice flour. Like I said, I like mine really thick. If you'd like (or need) yours thinner, add more liquid - either water or milk. Use honey or maple syrup for the sweetener. Maybe even some apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice instead of just cinnamon. Add some applesauce or other pureed fruit. Make this for your kids some chilly morning as a sweet treat. Have a sick one at home? Make it savory instead by using chicken stock for the water, and add some diced, cooked veggies (puree it if necessary). Lots of possibilities here!
No matter how you choose to make it, just make it! And enjoy!