Alegría (Amaranth Crispy Bars)

This post is about a traditional sweet snack from Mexico, Alegría. I had to go to Mexico quite often for work recently – and I am actually going tomorrow again! Especially in the beginning, these business trips are sort of exciting, because I get to discover so many new foods. On my last trip, I received a small welcome basket with lots of yummy traditional snacks from the hosting team and  one of the treats in this basket was a pack of “Amaranto con chocolate” – amaranth with chocolate.

Amaranto-con-chocolate

While this is not exactly the same as the traditional Alegría, it is made following the same principle  –  using popped amaranth seeds. I have featured amaranth in one of my previous recipes before to make a burger patty and it’s a super nutritious grains, already used by the Incas and Aztecs. It is a source of complete protein—it contains all the essential amino acids, including lysine, which is lacking in most grains. It is also high in fiber and a good source of magnesium and iron, which makes is such a great addition to your diet! Amaranth is definitely a Superfood by all means.

Alegria-2

Alegría actually means happiness in Spanish – a very nice name, isn’t it? I found many variations of the recipe, but it seems that in the original Mexican recipe, they also add some pumpkin seeds, and the sugar that holds the grains together is the Mexican brown sugar, called “piloncillo”. As I try to use unrefined and natural sugars only, I used raw local honey for my amaranth bars and also added some cacao to them – to make them similar to the delicious bars I received as a gift. I also made a few bars with organic molasses (as I saw this recommended in another recipe), but I feel that molasses is kind of an acquired taste, if you know what I mean… 😉 I didn’t like it too much (it tastes burnt for me), so I would definitely recommend the honey – or thick maple syrup if you are strict vegan.

These sweet and healthy treats contain following Superfoods:

  • Amaranth
  • Honey
  • Cacao

What I learned when making these treats, is the amazing characteristic of amaranth that it pops like corn when it is put into a hot pan. Like when you make popcorn! Below photo shows on the left side, the popped amaranth seeds and on the right side amaranth in its natural form. The seeds become super light and airy when popped – like rice crispies, if you know those 😉 I was really amazed by this characteristic of amaranth!

Popped-Amaranth

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup amaranth (not yet popped)
  • 3 tbsp liquid and thick honey
  • 2 – 3 tbsp cacao
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation:

  • Heat a pan until it’s very hot, add the amaranth little by little – I did just 1 tbsp at once (the pan should be really hot, otherwise the amaranth doesn’t pop)
  • It’s important you don’t add to much amaranth at once, because then it takes too long for all seeds to pop and the ones that have already popped tend to burn – make sure you also cover the pan with a lid, otherwise, you’ll have them everywhere in your kitchen, as they really jump to all sides 😉
  • Put the popped amaranth seeds into a bowl on the side, go through the whole amount until done
  • Now put the honey into the pan and heat very briefly – now on low heat – add the popped amaranth, salt and cacao, stir well until everything is well mixed, put into a baking tray or form and press it, until dense
  • Let cool and dry for about 30 minutes, then take out and cut into bars
  • Enjoy this quick and healthy snack throughout this new week! :-)

Alegria-in-pan Alegria-1 Alegria-3 Alegria-4

Comments

    • Jen B. says

      This is a weird coincidence. I recently bought some kuali bars. I clicked on this page in a search I did for alegria, wondering if it was the same thing as the bars I had bought. I have a lot of food allergies, and it’s basically impossible for me to find a snack bar I can have. I’m so excited for your product to be on the market! I’m sorry if this is derailing the comment thread, and I don’t mean to turn this into an advertisement. I’m just excited about the availability of the bars.

  1. Roxanne Volkmann says

    Hello! just discovering your site! Love it!! Can I make these with date paste? I am just out of honey :)

  2. Mary L says

    I just returned from a yoga retreat in Mexico, and these were my absolute favorite lunchtime dessert! So happy to have found your recipe. Can’t wait to make them!

  3. Chris Ward says

    Sounds good, but I am looking for a more complex venture. Honey and amaranth is a home run, and I would also try some butter, lemon, a little bit of brown sugar (or maybe even turbinado) as well as a coating of egg so everything sticks and then put my strawberry-rhubarb tart in the middle. Any thoughts or suggestions on this approach? My main priority is figuring out how to pop them right. Couldn’t this be done in theory the same way microwave popcorn is popped? -Chris

  4. Grace says

    These look delicious. I have some popped amaranth, so would using that work? (So skipping the popping part of method)…they’re going to be yummy in my tummy :)

    • WordPress.com Support says

      Hi Grace, yes, absolutely, that’s even better!! Because I found popping the seeds was quite a tricky thing in order to ensure they wouldn’t burn! So you can go right ahead and make the bars! Let me know how it turns out!! Where did you buy the popped seeds by the way?
      Thanks for stopping by, Sylvia

    • Sylvia @superfoodista.com says

      Wow, so cool to hear you made these and you liked them! really makes my day! 😉 hugs & thanks for sharing!

    • Sylvia @superfoodista.com says

      Hello, thanks so much for stopping by! 😉 Cacao is the original powder made from the cacao beans – it’s not the same as cocoa, cocoa contains cacao though. It’s the more pure form if I can say so – and also contains way more nutrients than cocoa. But theoretically, you can definitely use cocoa too, just the unsweetened one if you add the honey. Hope this helps! 😉

  5. feedingthesonis says

    This looks yummy Sylvia. I never knew you could use the seeds of Amaranth. I have never tried it however I have cooked its leaves. It has an acquired taste (for first timers) but my absolute favourite. I’ll post my recipe for it sometime soon do keep an eye out for it

    • Sylvia @superfoodista.com says

      Thank you so much dear! Yes, I am also quite new to amaranth, but this is really an interesting snack and I was so surprised to learn they pop when in contact with heat. Very fun to make, a bit time-consuming maybe 😉 Thanks for stopping by!

    • Sylvia @superfoodista.com says

      Hi Lidia, yep, only 3 ingredients in this case 😉 The only thing that is a bit time-consuming is to pop the amaranth seeds one spoon by the other….But then it’s really super fast and easy. And it’s really super airy and light. Thanks for your kind comment and stopping by! 😉

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