So what is amaranth, and what is its nutrient value? Amaranth is a very nutritious, gluten free grain containing a high amount of protein, iron, calcium, lysine, magnesium, fiber, plus B vitamins, and more. It actually holds the highest amount of protein when compared to all other gluten free grains, so it rates very high on the nutrition scale.
For the Incas, amaranth was a dietary staple, as well as a part of religious rituals, eaten ceremoniously. Today, it’s often popped like popcorn and mixed with honey, molasses, or chocolate to make a popular treat in Mexico caled “alegria” (meaning joy).
If you are on, or considering, a gluten-free diet, read more about the important role amaranth can play in your diet.
What is the Nutrition in Amaranth?
Per cup, amaranth contains 251 calories and just 4 g of fat — none of which is saturated. It has 29 percent of the recommended dietary allowance for iron, and 12 percent for calcium. It is high in magnesium, with 40 percent of the RDA, and 36 percent of the RDA of phosphorus. A cup of amaranth also offers 105 percent of the RDA for manganese which functions as an antioxidant and plays a role in energy metabolism, bone health and wound healing. That’s a WOW in the world of nutrition.
Amaranth is often referred to as a “complete” protein, because it contains lysine, an amino acid missing in many grains. It’s about 14% plant protein, which means it is easily digestible. It is very high in fiber, and can keep you feeling full for along time.
Amaranth is completely gluten-free and suitable for those with celiac disease and a great food for people recovering from illness or transitioning from a fast or cleanse.
How do I cook Amaranth?
Cooking amaranth is very easy – measure grains and water, boil water, add grains, gently boil, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes, then drain, rinse, and enjoy. Cooked amaranth behaves a little differently than other whole grains. It never loses its crunch completely, has an earthy flavor and can be combined with other grains, or used as part of a pilaf.
Amaranth flour can be substituted for part or all of wheat flour in pancakes and muffins, or you can pop it—That’s right—it’s not like traditonal popcorn, but it has many uses. Think amaranth brittle, or popped amaranth over a yogurt parfait….served with nuts and fresh berries—all the while adding a complete protein to your diet.
See this weeks recipe for healthy Popped Amaranth, and pick your favorite topping.
Wherever you are, your best bet for locating amaranth is at your local natural food store.