Move Over, Popcorn: 8 Healthy Ways to Use Popped Ancient Grains

It may not have trickled down to your local theater yet, but popped seeds like quinoa, sorghum and amaranth have put popcorn on the back burner and taken the food blogosphere by storm.


These amazing little super seeds add great crunch to a number of dishes—from sweet to savory and everything in between—and are beautiful to to look at.

Quinoa is probably the most familiar of the seeds we’ve seen as part of this trend. It takes on a slightly nutty flavor and distinctive crispiness when puffed.

Amaranth, an up-and-coming ancient grain (yes, an oxymoron), is harvested from beautiful brightly colored plants. It’s packed with protein and is naturally gluten-free. When popped, its earthy flavor is enhanced and inherent crunchy texture is intensified.

Last but not least, sorghum. Another great gluten-free option, when popped, sorghum looks identical to traditional popcorn, only a lot smaller and a bit sweeter.

Now on to the recipes. Check out the amazing ways home cooks are incorporating everything popped and puffed into their cooking.

1) Thai-style Zucchini Soup with Puffed Quinoa and Microgreens

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Photo/ Recipe by @saffromandkumquats

This spicy zucchini soup is the perfect transition from winter to spring. The addition of puffed quinoa adds a pleasant crunch to this silky soup.

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More Spring Soup Recipes

2. Puffed Amaranth and Almond Milk Horchata

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Photo / Recipe by @luckystaranise

Here's a bright and colorful twist on a traditional horchata. Great for breakfast or even as a refreshing dessert.

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More Smoothie Recipes

3. Choco-Cherry NiceCream Topped With Popped Amaranth

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Photo / Recipe by @cara_schrock

This is a rich and creamy (dairy-free) "nice cream" made from frozen bananas, cherries and raw cacao gets topped with crunchy, nutty and earthy popped amaranth, which complements the intense chocolate flavor.

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More Vegan Dessert Recipes

4. Chickpeas In Red Beet Broth With Olive Oil, Thyme and Popped Sorghum

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Photo / Recipe by Maria Speck

A true feast for the eyes, fresh chickpeas are boiled in the water reserved from boiled beets and topped with freshly popped sorghum, a welcome contrast to the creamy chickpeas.

More information on this dish and recipes for popped sorghum

More Beet Recipes

5. Puffed Seeds With Chocolate Milk

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Photo / Recipe by @theeasyhealthyway

What could be better than chocolate milk in your cereal? Naturally sweetened chocolate coconut milk is added to a bowl full of naturally gluten-free puffed seeds. What a wonderful way to start the day!

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More Chocolate Recipes Recipes

6. Chili-lime Popped Sorghum

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Photo / Recipe by @saltedplains

Sweet, salty, spicy & popped; everything you could ever want in a snack!

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More Sweet & Salty Recipes

7. Smoky Seared Scallops With Roasted Fennel, Rainbow Carrots And Popped Sorghum

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Photo / Recipe by @bigflavors

Plate like a pro with the help of popped sorghum! These adorable little seeds add a bit of magic to seared scallops. Consider this recipe for your next dinner party!

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More Sustainable Seafood Recipes

8. Vanilla Maca Pancakes With Caramel Sauce And Quinoa Pops

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Photo / Recipe by @flourishinghealth

Pancakes deserve a little popped love, too. These are made with buckwheat flour and banana, and are topped with a peanut butter caramel sauce. A great (vegan!) weekend splurge!

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More Pancake Recipes

For more recipes and tips for what you can make with popped quinoa, amaranth, sorghum, check out the full round-up and more recipes on the feedfeed website.

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