Grain of the Month

Complete nutritional break down of individual grains

Amaranth was used by the Aztecs in South America as a food staple, as well as in healing ceremonies.  Because of its ability to thrive in poor soils, its drought tolerance, and its high nutritional value, Amaranth is considered a “lost storehouse” of the world’s agriculture and diet.
Because of its association with indigenous cultures, amaranth almost disappeared in the years after the Spanish conquest.  Fortunately, like the knowledge of its use, small amounts of the grain survived in remote areas of the mountains.
In my work with a Mexihka /Aztec Shaman (nick named Tzen, because his first name is 18 characters long!) studying the philosophy of Tetzkatlipoka, in the Wewepahtli Ikzteilwitl or (Greatest Medicine) form of teaching, he told us that in his tradition amaranth is used to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Unlike most grains, even when used alone, amaranth has protein complexes that are adequate for most people.  Due to its high protein profile and ease of digestion, it is ideal for people whose health or digestion is compromised.  It contains more calcium and the minerals magnesium and silicon that help us absorb and utilize it than milk!  [See amaranths nutrient levels in the Nutrient Content of Gluten-Free Whole Grains in the Whole Grains section.]
Amaranth is extremely high in the amino acid lysine, which helps reduce the occurrence of herpes out breaks and cold sores and their duration.  For information on why this is so read Amino Acids.
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Recent attention to this wonderful grain has produced a renewed interest and it is now being cultivated throughout the world.  Though not a true cereal grain, amaranth seed is used like a grain. It has a unique texture both gelatinous and (due to its hull) somewhat crunchy.  Because it is so thick, you can use it in any recipe where you want more body.  Try adding it to a hot cereal for breakfast or mixing it in with another grain like short grain brown rice for dinner. Try popping the very tiny seed like ultra mini popcorn to make cereal or toast them for a nutty flavor.  Sprouting the seeds is an especially nutritious way to eat this grain.  Sprouts can be used for salads, or on sandwiches.
The flour works well for gravies.  According to an article from Practical Gastroenterology September 2006 – Raymond, N., Heap, J., Case, S., The Gluten-Free Diet: An Update for Health Professionals, Practical Gastroenterology 2006:XXX(9): 67
“Adding amaranth flour to baked goods will boost the nutrient content as amaranth has a significantly higher content of minerals (especially calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc) and fiber than other whole grains.”
According to Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Tradition & Modern Nutrition by Paul Pitchford, Amaranths Healing properties are:
“Cooling thermal nature; bitter and sweet flavor; dries dampness; benefits the lungs: high in protein
(15 –18%), fiber, amino acids (lysine and methionine), vitamin C and calcium.  It contains more calcium and the supporting calcium cofactors-magnesium and silicon- than milk.  Its calcium can be used efficiently in this form.  Use in breads, cakes soups and grain dishes.”

Bakery on Main’s “Strawberry Shortcake flavored instant Oatmeal” Breakfast cereal made with several different GF grains including amaranth, I love this mix!!!
Or try preparing this dish below

Amaranth Vegetable Stew
Adapted from a recipe by Karen Railey
1⁄2 cup amaranth seed
11⁄2 cups water
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄2 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes, 15 oz
11⁄2 tsp dried basil
11⁄2 tsp dried oregano
10 oz baby spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring amaranth and water to a boil. Reduce heat, cover
and simmer for 25–30 minutes.
While amaranth is cooking, sauté onion in the olive oil.
Once the onion has become translucent, add the garlic and
mushrooms and sauté a few minutes more. Add tomatoes,
including liquid, and basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Once
the mixture is hot again, mix in the spinach and cover until
the spinach is wilted.
Add amaranth to the vegetable mixture and mix well.

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