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