I love amaranth! I most often use it as a hot cereal for breakfast. When I want a sweet breakfast I do it up just like cream of wheat. And if I’m in the mood for savory it doubles as grits, delicious!
Not only does amaranth taste great, it’s chockfull of nutrition. First of all it’s a complete protein, which is fabulous for something that tastes just like a “carby” grain. Amaranth is an excellent source of magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper and zinc and a good source of potassium and folic acid. It also contains twice as much calcium as milk. Not only that, but it is a more absorbable form of calcium than dairy due to the high content of the amino acid lysine. Lysine helps the body absorb calcium, so it is wonderful for nursing or pregnant women, infants and children. In past years it has come to the attention of world health workers that in areas of Africa and Latin America where amaranth is consumed, there exists no malnutrition! Who says we need dairy products to get our calcium?
Amaranth has significant amounts of phytosterols, which research is showing to play a major role in preventing chronic degenerative diseases. It’s wonderful for people with type 2 diabetes; having just the right blend of fiber, protein, and nutrients that has a profound effect on blood sugar regulation.
Even though amaranth is often referred to as a grain– it’s not. It is also a pseudo-grain (false grain) just like buckwheat and quinoa because it’s actually a seed. But lucky for us we can use it in the exact same way as we use grains for cooking!
Amaranth is gaining much popularity as people are searching for grain-free, gluten-free options. Amaranth of course comes in its whole seed form and can also be ground into flour and used in baking.
Where to find amaranth:
Amaranth can usually be found at health food stores and of course online.
I purchase whole seed amaranth in the bulk section at my local health food stores. Just make sure that the bins containing the amaranth are covered and that the store has a high turnover to ensure it’s fresh. I usually ground my own amaranth flour in my vitamix or blendtec, but Bob’s Red Mill is a brand that you can find in most health food stores.
How to select and store amaranth:
It’s ideal to keep all varieties of amaranth in the refrigerator or freezer, but since refrigerator space is a high commodity I store small amounts of amaranth in a wide-mouth mason jar in my pantry and try to use it in 4-6 weeks. I always store my amaranth flour should always be stored which in the freezer. It’s fragile oils are highly perishable. Whole seed amaranth can last up to a year, while the flour will keep fresh for several months. So when I find it on sale I stock up and keep it in the freezer.
How to cook amaranth: