Monday, January 4, 2010

Amaranth: packed with nutrition

mortar amaranth

Amaranth is commonly referred to as a grain because of its appearance and nutritional profile.  It's actually not a grain at all:  it's the seed of a beautiful flower called Amaranthus, said by gardeners to be very easy to grow.






Both leaves and seeds are edible and enjoyed in various parts of the world.  The name of this wonderful plant comes from a Greek word that means "everlasting."  The plant itself comes to us from the Aztecs, however.  There are many legends attached to it, and it was an integral part of the Aztecs' diet and religious rituals. 




photo courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons



amaranth grain closeup

Amaranth's nutritional pedigree reads like manna from heaven. It is bursting with important nutrients--just take a look at its nutritional profile:


1 cup of Amaranth uncooked contains:
26g of protein
13 g of fiber
31% Daily values of Calcium
82% Daily values of Iron
14% Daily values of Vitamin C


The protein in Amaranth contains both lysine and methionine which makes it an especially good source for vegetarians. It contains no gluten (yeah!) and is a good source of vitamin E (tocotrienols).


Amaranth needs to be stored in an airtight container because of its oil content. I keep mine in a jar in the refrigerator. I try to use it within three months because the oils can go rancid if kept much longer. The good news is: it's delicious and very versatile.   You should have no problem eating it often. It can be popped like popcorn, cooked like grits, and transformed into delightful patties-- the list goes on and on. You can also add Amaranth flour to your baked-goods in moderation.  I would start by replacing 1/4 cup of your flour mix with it.   It's a great binding agent so too much will turn your bread gummy.


This week I will be sharing two recipes for Amaranth.  
Today's recipe is Popped Amaranth Cereal with Sesame Seeds and Crystallized Ginger

amaranth cereal with ginger

This breakfast or snack is packed with wholesome ingredients.  It comes together in minutes and is such a nice change from a bowl of porridge.

Coming up in my next post:  Spinach Amaranth Herb Salad


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amaranth cereal ingredients



Popped Amaranth Cereal with Sesame Seeds and Crystallized Ginger (makes 1 serving)
One of my daughters doesn't like milk of any kind, so she enjoys hers with a little bit of
orange juice. It can also be altered for a vegan diet by choosing one of the vegan milk and sweetener options listed below.

2 tablespoons of Amaranth Seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp of crystallized ginger, minced
sugar, honey or agave nectar to taste (optional)
1/4 cup milk, soy milk, almond milk or orange juice



  • Heat a thick-bottom pan to med-high temperature.  When a drop of water energetically dances in the pan you are ready to add the amaranth.
  • Add to the pan 1 tablespoon of the amaranth and stir.  It will start popping soon after.  You'll need to have a lid to prevent the seeds from flying all over the place.
  • It only take seconds and they burn fast-- keep a vigilant eye and transfer to a bowl as soon as most of them have popped. Then proceed the same way for the next tablespoon.
  • Add cinnamon and sesame to the bowl with popped cereal and mix well.
  • Then sprinkle the minced crystallized ginger. Add the sweetener if you are using it.  
  • Finally,  pour your milk of choice over the whole thing and serve.
Printable Recipe











Breakfast is Ready!

14 comments:

GF Gidget said...

Amaranth is probably the only GF grain I have yet to try. Thanks for the info!

Syrie said...

Fascinating. I've seen that plant before but never knew what it was. I love the idea of popped amaranth cereal. Wishing you all the best in 2010.

♥peachkins♥ said...

I always see those plants.I didn't know it was edible...thanks to your post

Tsz said...

What a awesome little grain! Where can I find them?

Alexa said...

GF Gidget,
I hope you try it. It's fun to play around with it and tastes great.

Syrie and Peachkins,
Thank you. I would love to have a plant like that.

Tsz,
You can find Amaranth at all the major natural food markets, especially if they have a bulk section. As an alternative, you can purchase it online--here's a source for it and many other wonderful ingredients: Barry Farm

citronetvanille said...

very interesting post, will have to try it. I used Amaranth mixed with other cereals but never by itself.

pTsaldari said...

I always enjoy Alexa's blog articles but what distinguishes this blogger for me is that it teaches. This makes it a far more interesting read. I always feel she had done her homework well. In other words after reading her blog... I feel well fed and satisfied.
Cheers, PT

http://ptsaldari.posterous.com

Vegetable Matter said...

Amaranthus is really popular as a cut flower -- it comes in beautiful shades of burgundy and green. We use it a lot at our flower shop. For some reason, I've never thought of it as an option for our vegetable garden, but your post makes me want got to research how and where it grows.

Alexa said...

Citron,
I've been using it in all kinds of dishes. It replaces couscous really well. Let me know what you come up with.

PT,
You are very kind. Thank you!

Vegetable Matter,
I didn't realize you had a flower shop. How wonderful! If you ever plant some I would love for you to post about it. I love your gardening posts. :-)

Marysol said...

Wow, the cereal looks and sounds like something I would never put down.

So Amaranth is the Arnold Schwartz...whatever of the grain world! And the idea of popping it like popcorn should entice finicky Thumper.

Dear Alexa, you're a gastronomic encyclopedia!

Alexa said...

Marysol,
Your comments always guarantee a smile from me.:-)

Renai said...

I linked to this post in my blog... hope that's okay! This recipe looks WONDERFUL. I'm going to try it tomorrow for breakfast before work. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

where did you purchase your amaranth from it looks free from black unhulled grain, the one in the store always has this black unhulled grain in it.

Rachel said...

I just found your blog, and I love it! Your recipes are so tasty looking and I really like your photography. Can't wait to peruse more!

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