This year I decided to plant Amaranth, a highly nutritious grain. I saw its ornamental cousin last year and flipped at how beautiful this plant was. My husband tells me that I grow to grow. It does not matter if I intend to eat it. I enjoy the pleasures of watching a plant grow into its splendor until he hands me the scissors and tells me to cut it. This always pains me. Amaranth is one of those plants that you hate to cut down since its purplish/magenta plumes are just breath-taking. You don’t have to plant it to enjoy the benefits of Amaranth.
What is Amaranth? It was called the grains of the gods. The Aztecs used Amaranth in their rituals until its use was outlawed by the Spaniards who sought to convert the Aztecs to Christianity. According to the USDA plant database, Amaranth is related to Pigweed, and is really an herb not a true grain. But what makes it so special is it is a gluten free product and higher in protein than other grains.
“One cup of raw amaranth contains 28.1 grams of protein. Oats are a close second with 26.3 grams of protein. In comparison, 1 cup of raw white rice contains 13.1 grams of protein,” according to Terri Gruss, author of “10 Reasons to Use Amaranth in your Gluten Free recipes.”
Gruss extols the benefits of Amaranth in her article. It is lower in carbohydrates and higher in fiber than other grains; high in lysine and other essential vitamins, and contains more digestible proteins than other grains. In addition, it is higher in fiber than other grains.
So, why not substitute Amaranth for all of your other grains in baking? Gruss explains the end product would become too dense. Instead, substitute up to 1/3rd of the flour used. (Want a treat? Check out this recipe: Amaranth, Quinoa, and Dark Chocolate Cake.)
How Do You Cook with Amaranth?
Amaranth can be popped like popcorn. Due to the size of the grain, the end product will look more like a puff cereal. For more information on how to “puff” them, see here.
To simply cook the grain, see here. How about Amaranth Grits or Amaranth with Spinach, and tomato mushroom sauce? Sounds good. Note, the Amaranth leaves taste just like an Earthy spinach. The younger the leaves the better tasting. I tried both and did not see much difference.
Are you a gardener and want to grow these beauties..I thought so. Check out my next post on how to grow these beauties.