Tim and I spent last Monday night in Atlanta—just a quick one-night getaway to the biggest city four hours from our home, made possible by a wedding gift from our friend Kim. After a rainy drive down that turned into a sunny stop at IKEA, we arrived at Stonehurst Place, our bed and breakfast for the night.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Stonehurst is a stunning estate built in 1896 and totally renovated in 2007-08. Our room, the Farnsworth, overlooked the screened-in back porch and was decorated with a Hollywood glam theme. It featured its own fireplace, a queen-sized bed with Egyptian cotton sheets, a marble bathroom and a full walk-in closet.
One of the last times I’d stayed in a B & B was in Maine, a place whose quaint little towns often make it hard not to stay in a B & B, and the thing I’ve always liked most about them is the extra amenities: at Stonehurst, we had access to an upstairs sitting room with a Keurig coffee/tea maker, fresh organic fruit and baked goods in the dining room, an open front porch overlooking the streets of Midtown—not to mention, breakfast the next morning was a gourmet spread of hot coffee or tea; organic yogurt with berries; and toasted sourdough topped with ricotta, kale and eggs cooked the way we like.
Even though we were in Atlanta for under 24 hours, we managed to fit in a lot of stops, from driving through Buckhead to shopping in the Virginia Highlands (and sipping on fresh-squeezed orange juice from artisanal chocolatier Cacao, a shop recommended by our Innkeeper, Sarah):
to dinner at Yeah! Burger, a surprisingly impressive burger joint that may look like your standard eat-in fast-food place but inside is actually the adept maker of a spread like this: fresh-squeezed orange juice (we’re obsessed!), fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, a bunless grass-fed burger with goat cheese and sauteed onions, a breadless portabella sandwich with goat cheese and tomato jam, Brussels sprouts and salad.
But it was our final destination that wowed us most: the DeKalb Farmers Market, which is like Costco meets Whole Foods meets an international grocery store, the one-stop-shop for every kind of specialized food ingredient and fresh produce you could ask for. Sucanat for $2.50 a pound. Organic cacao nibs for half the normal price. Fresh-baked spelt sourdough bread. Spelt cherry pistachio bread. Kamut hazelnut fig bread (!!).
We were overwhelmed.
And among that hoard was organic amaranth (at $2.99 a pound), the increasingly popular nutritional powerhouse related to spinach, beets, Swiss chard and quinoa.
I’ve never cooked with amaranth before, but I’ve wanted to ever since I noticed it in the bulk bins at Whole Foods. Like quinoa and millet, amaranth is not actually a grain, but as any gluten-free cook could tell you, it’s often referred to as a grain because it can behave like one, yet with none of the gluten and way more health benefits.
Amaranth is rich in amino acid and proteins, and it has four times more calcium than wheat and twice as much magnesium and iron. Research has linked it with fighting cancer, inflammation and heart disease.
While the seeds can be eaten like couscous/rice or ground into flour for baking, one of their most well-known uses is as a breakfast porridge—something akin to Cream of Wheat or another hot cereal—so when we returned from our fast getaway, the following Sunday morning, we had amaranth for breakfast, in porridge form. It didn’t officially extend our vacation but, hot and creamy, sweet and comforting, it was the next best thing.
Makes 2 generous helpings
1/2 cup organic amaranth grains/seeds
1 cup water for soaking
1 teaspoon whey (i.e., the liquid in your organic yogurt) OR other acid such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar—optional
1 1/4 cups milk, coconut milk or water (I used 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup water)
Spices and honey, as you like
Add-ins, as you like
Soak 1/2 cup amaranth grains/seeds in water overnight (or up to 24 hours), preferably with a little acid added such as the liquid in your yogurt container. (Why? Soaking amaranth makes it easier to digest and helps release the most nutrients. For more information on this, see this helpful Weston A. Price article or this beautiful post from My New Roots.)
In the morning, drain amaranth and rinse. In a saucepan, combine with 1 1/4 cups of liquid (I used 1 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of water), adding whatever spices you like, maybe with a little raw honey, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover for 25 minutes, stirring once or twice.
To serve, add whatever extras you like and enjoy!
Suggested add-ins: a little extra milk, bananas, berries, walnuts or other nuts, coconut flakes, dried fruit, spices.