What is amaranth?

What is Amaranth? Looking at nutritious, low fat vegetable proteins

(Taken from http://www.chetday.com/amaranth.html)

 

Amaranth is an Aztec grain that is extremely nutritious, high in protein (15-18%) and contains respectable amounts of lysine and methionine, two essential amino acids that are not frequently found in grains. It is high in fibre and contains calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and C.  Using amaranth in combination with wheat, corn or brown rice results in a complete protein as high in food value as fish, red meat or poultry.

Amaranth also contains tocotrienols (a form of vitamin E) which have cholesterol-lowering activity in humans. Cooked amaranth is 90% digestible and because of this ease of digestion, it has traditionally been given to those recovering from an illness or ending a fasting period. Amaranth consists of 6-10% oil, which is found mostly within the germ. The oil is predominantly unsaturated and is high in linoleic acid, which is important in human nutrition.

It can be cooked as a cereal, ground into flour, popped like popcorn, sprouted, or toasted. The seeds can be cooked with other whole grains, added to stir-fry or to soups and stews as a nutrient dense thickening agent.

 

Amaranth flour is used in making pastas and baked goods. It must be mixed with other flours for baking yeast breads, as it contains no gluten. One part amaranth flour to 3-4 parts wheat or other grain flours may be used. In the preparation of flatbreads, pancakes and pastas, 100% amaranth flour can be used. Sprouting the seeds will increase the level of some of the nutrients and the sprouts can be used on sandwiches and in salads, or just to munch on.

 

To cook amaranth boil 1 cup seeds in 2-1/2 cups liquid such as water or half water and half stock or apple juice until seeds are tender, about 18 to 20 minutes. Adding some fresh herbs or ginger root to the cooking liquid can add interesting flavors or mix with beans for a main dish. For a breakfast cereal increase the cooking liquid to 3 cups and sweeten with Stevia, honey or brown rice syrup and add raisins, dried fruit, allspice and some nuts.

 

Amaranth has a “sticky” texture that contrasts with the fluffier texture of most grains and care should be taken not to overcook it as it can become “gummy.” Amaranth flavor is mild, sweet, nutty, and malt like, with a variance in flavor according to the variety being used.

 

Amaranth keeps best if stored in a tightly sealed container, such as a glass jar, in the refrigerator. This will protect the fatty acids it contains from becoming rancid. The seeds should be used within 3 to 6 months.

 

More recipes

 

Amaranth with Spinach Tomato Mushroom Sauce
1 cup amaranth seeds
2-12 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch spinach (or young amaranth leaves if available)
2 ripe tomatoes, skinned and coarsely chopped
1/2 pound (1 kilo) mushrooms, sliced
1-1/2 teaspoons basil
1-1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 clove of garlic minced
1 tablespoon onion, minced
Sea salt and pepper to taste (or use a salt substitute)

Add amaranth to boiling water, bring back to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes.

While amaranth is cooking, stem and wash spinach, then simmer until tender. Dip tomatoes into boiling water to loosen skin, then peel and chop. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and add garlic an onion. Sauté approximately 2 minutes. Add tomato, mushrooms, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of water. Drain and chop spinach and add to tomato mixture. Cook an addition 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lightly mash tomato as it is cooking.

Stir the sauce into the amaranth or spoon it on top.

 

Amaranth “Grits”
1 cup amaranth
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or pressed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cups water or vegetable stock
Sea salt or soy sauce to taste
Hot sauce to taste
Garnish: 2 plum tomatoes

Combine the amaranth, garlic, onion, and stock in a 2-quart saucepan. Boil; reduce heat and simmer covered until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Stir well. If the mixture is too thin or the amaranth not quite tender (it should be crunchy, but not gritty hard), boil gently while stirring constantly until thickened, about 30 seconds. Add salt or soy sauce to taste.

Stir in a few drops of hot sauce, if desired, and garnish with chopped tomatoes.

 

 

For something new, different, and highly nutritious in your diet, try amaranth and have some fun experimenting and discovering your favorite ways to use it. If you would like to learn more about whole grains and their uses, you may wish to try one of these books. They are available at Amazon and can be purchased through Health and Beyond Online at http://www.chetday.com/amaranth.html.

 

Complete Whole Grain Cookbook, Aveline Kushi

All American Waves of Grain: How to Buy, Store, and Cook Every Imaginable Grain, Barbara Grunes

Amazing Grains: Creating Main Dishes With Whole Grains, Joanne Saltzman

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Check out our organic puffed amaranth as a breakfast cereal!

 

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