Amaranth – This “Grain” Has Gumption!
This ancient grain has been around for many years, but only recently has it been it discovered for Western audiences as the next “superfood.” Similar to quinoa, amaranth is not technically a grain; it is actually a seed from the amaranth plant, which for many years was considered a weed.
There are many reasons to consider amaranth. It’s gluten free, making it a terrific alternative to wheat, which is why it’s often found in breads and pastas. Amaranth is a great source of the amino acid lysine, and is also a complete protein – good news for plant-based eaters who are looking to replace meat in their diets but wish to ensure an adequate protein intake. Compared to other grains, amaranth has nearly twice as much protein per cup (26 grams). In addition to protein, amaranth has 31 percent your daily value for calcium, and 82 percent iron – that’s a lot for one little seed! Additionally amaranth is a good source of fiber to keep you regular, as well as helping you feel full for longer.
Amaranth for Better Health
Amaranth is a great source of phytosterols, which have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. The peptides and oils found in amaranth are beneficial for those suffering from pain and inflammation or those who are at risk of heart disease and stroke. These same peptides found in amaranth act as antioxidants that help protect your cells from damage, which in turn can help to prevent certain cancers. Meanwhile, the high fiber content and phytonutrients help to lower blood pressure and assists with cholesterol levels. Besides using amaranth to replace other grains like rice or wheat, you can also enjoy amaranth as a more potent, nutritionally-dense option for breakfast and baked goods.
Amaranth is easy to prepare – similar to rice. Just add amaranth and water (usually 1 cup of amaranth to 3 cups water, but follow the specific directions from the brand you purchase) to a pot and cook until the amaranth has absorbed the water. You’ll find the texture a bit different than rice, with a bit more crunch on the outside, but delicious all the same. Alternatively, you can soak amaranth overnight (1 cup amaranth in 3 cups of water) and then cook in the soaking liquid for 3-5 minutes in the morning. Top the cooked amaranth with a bit of coconut or almond milk, nuts and fruit and you have a nutritious and delicious quick breakfast. There are lots of recipes that use amaranth, try some popped amaranth crunch for a healthy snack, Amaranth Porridge for breakfast (pictured above) or wow your dinner guests with Yam and Black Bean Burritos with Amaranth. Odds are that you’ll find a new favorite dish, one that’s plant-based, gluten-free, healthy and hearty! Photo: Nutrition Stripped