© November 2014, The Writers Group
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Amaranth is an unusual, tasty and nutritious food. It is unusual because it is not a cereal grain. Instead, it is a seed, related to the pigweed family. It is somewhat related to quinoa, to which it looks similar when uncooked. Amaranth has a very delicate flavor that one must get used to. It can be eaten as a cereal or baked into bread.
Nutrition. The tiny Amaranth seeds are about 15% protein. Quinoa is similarly high in protein. However, amaranth is also very high in calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, chromium, lithium, iron, lysine, riboflavin and other nutrients as well that are needed by most people. As with other seeds, Amaranth also contains an excellent quality oil, although it is somewhat damaged by cooking.
Amaranth also contains many other nutrients that are very subtle. These include several other trace minerals, vitamins and others that are not as easy to measure, but are very excellent for one’s health.
Amaranth was the staple food of the Aztec Indians for centuries. In 1521, Cortez conquered the Aztecs and forbade the use of amaranth because he felt it was almost magical in its health-building properties and he was actually afraid of it.
However, the hardy seeds survived for four centuries in the jungles of South and Central America. They were rediscovered in a remote area of Mexico in 1972. Seeds were brought back to the United States, where they thrived in an agricultural test plot.
They were distributed to several agricultural centers, where they also thrived. While they require a moist environment for their first few weeks of growth, amaranth seeds grow well in harsh environments and can even survive drought. There are now many growers of organic amaranth around the American nation, and in some other nations as well.
Amaranth and Food Allergies. Amaranth is an excellent food for those who are sensitive to whole grains such as brown rice, oats, rye, wheat and others. Amaranth flour can be substituted for 15-25% of other flours in recipes.
Amaranth cereal. Amaranth is most commonly eaten as a cooked cereal. For amaranth cereal, mix about 1 cup of amaranth seeds or flour with about 2 cups of spring or distilled water. Bring to a boil and simmer until ready to eat. It will take about 20 minutes. The cereal must be monitored, at least until you become used to how it cooks. At some point in the cooking process, it suddenly gels up and one must have enough water in the pot to avoid burning it.
Amaranth breads and muffins. Amaranth flour is often made into cold cereals and breads. In bread, it must usually be mixed with other flours, as it does not stick together too well.
Amaranth waffle recipe: Mix the following:
2 1/4 cups amaranth flour
1/4 cup arrowroot or tapioca starch flour
1 1/4 teaspoons of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
3 tablespoons olive or another high quality oil (more if your waffle iron tends to stick)
2 cups of spring or carbon-only filtered water
Amaranth greens. The Aztec Indians also ate amaranth greens, which are somewhat like Swiss chard and similar greens. These are quite nutritious, but are not usually sold in stores.