Kiwicha POP & Granola

With some fresh-picked strawberries

Last weekend I went to the booksigning at Herbivore to meet Hannah Kaminsky and buy her book, My Sweet Vegan.  Always on the lookout for new dessert inspiration, she has some fun ideas and neat combos (wasabi chocolate cupcakes?  I’ll let you know).  But today I wanted to try her granola recipe.  I have a standby that I love and use all the time and wanted to see how it compared.  It called for TVP, which seems like a fun new addition.  I always intend to follow the recipe right the first time, but am either too lazy to go to the store again or…well, I don’t want to go to the store again.  The recipe calls for puffed millet.  I have millet.  I think I can puff it.  I tried to, at least.  I tried with a hot dry pan and burnt it.  I heated oil and did popcorn style and just fried it (still crunchy, not puffy).  I tried with cold oil and heating slowly.  No dice.


So I subbed in a different puffy grain, one that is a successful and easy popper, the humble amaranth.  In Peru, the Quechua word for amaranth is kiwicha (kee-wee-chah), which is pretty cute sounding, and the puffed version is kiwicha pop.  It was available all over Peru, in big bags, usually just dry and styrofoamy.  Locals would mix it with honey and sometimes cinnamon, making a tasty protein rich snack.  Amaranth is a tiny seed, also called pigweed (I found that in the roadside in botany field trips…who would have known they are the same).  I have a feeling it’s a different species than the ones at the edge of school grounds.  The edible grain version is a complete protein and can help reduce blood pressure, lower high cholesterol and is heart-healthy.  Take that, Cheerios!  Plus it’s fast growing and has a high yield and is a pretty tolerant plant.  So if you need some forgiveness, look to the kiwicha.

The maroon squares are amaranth

To pop amaranth, it’s really easy.  You need a pan with a lid, a stove that can get hot (hooray for my gas stove in my apartment.  it makes life easier) and amaranth.  I find mine in bulk at the food co-op but you can find it in more and more grocery stores.  Look near the quinoa, maybe it’s hiding.  Keep in mind amaranth quadruples in size when popped but you really can only do a little at a time, unless you have a very wide pan.  For a standard small sauce or saute pan, I use about a tablespoon at a time.  Don’t crowd them.

Before, after

How to Pop Kiwicha

1.  Heat pan of choice over flame until REALLY hot (but don’t burn your pan).

2.  When hot, add spoonful of amaranth, cover pot and once it starts popping (it will sound like popcorn) lift it about an inch over the flame (and turn the heat down).  It could burn if you keep it in such direct contact with the heat.  I like to shake the pan in a horizontal fashion until the popping dies down.  This usually takes 15-30 seconds.

3.  Once the popping dies down, uncover and transfer the puffs to a bowl or whatever container you want.  If you leave it in the pan, it might burn.  Repeat until you have as much as you need.

Nature’s styrofoam

You don’t need to add oil to the pan like in popcorn because amaranth has a pretty high oil content in the seed and it’s enough to just come in contact with a hot surface to go POP!

I popped my kiwicha and substituted that for the puffed millet in the granola and all was well.  I also snuck in a little buckwheat crispies and changed the fruit called for in the recipe.  I used dehydrated bananas, apples and cherries.  The granola came out great and tasty, but it has a bit too much sugar for my liking.  I wasn’t raised on any sort of sugar cereals (grape nuts? anyone?) so I like my granola to be barely sweetened.  I’m going to stick to my personal recipe but add in the TVP and kiwicha pop, what great protein-rich additions to a granola.  Great recipe, Hannah!  It was easy and yummy and beautiful.

7 Responses to “Kiwicha POP & Granola”

  1. Amy Says:

    i wasn’t raised on sugary cereals either, and my favorite granola recipe is very low sugar. maybe we ought to share recipes?! i want to pop some kiwicha now!

  2. KimmyKokonut » Blog Archive » Dinner Voyeurism Says:

    [...] rice syrup. I didn’t have enough hempseeds for the recipe and subbed in a little of my puffed amaranth and it all worked out just fine. The granola is good, not too sweet and it browns up nicely. No [...]

  3. Steve Gamble Says:

    I am looking for kiwicha seed for planting to grow my own. Where can I get planting seed for kiwicha?

  4. kimmykokonut Says:

    There are many different types of amaranth out there, I would look for an edible variety in a seed catalogue. There are plenty online or you could stop by your local garden center.

  5. Lynda Walker Says:

    Do you have the recipe for Puffed Amaranth balls? (like old fashioned popcorn balls? You mentioned it in the cooking class and Taylor has been bugging me to get the recipe!
    Thanks again!

    PS Do you make coconut milk from Maui fresh coconut just like you do cashew milk?

  6. kimmykokonut Says:

    I’m working on a puffed amaranth ball recipe as we speak, keep on the lookout for my blog. In the meantime, check out veganlunchbox’s popcorn recipe here: I trust her recipes to be solid and delicious AND kid-friendly.

    My coconut milk directions are in my post here:
    It’s very similar to the almond milk we made in class last week.

    Take care,

  7. Silvia Arisumi Says:

    This is a very fascinating post, I was looking for this info. Just so you know I located your website when I was doing research for blogs like mine, so please check out my site sometime and leave me a comment to let me know what you think.

Leave a Reply