Amaranth: Add an Ancient Grain for Your Menu Plan


Amaranth in Bloom

 

Amaranth is another ancient grain that has become more popular in the US in recent years.  An ancient grain of note, amaranth has been the subject of poetry, was mentioned in Milton's Paradise Lost, was a symbol of the Greek Goddess Artemis, and was a healing plant, a symbol of immortality.  A staple of the Aztecs, Amaranth is rich in protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, and most certainly qualifies as a whole grain, although it is in fact a non-grass plant and known as a pseudograin, like quinoa.

The significance of amaranth revolves around its gluten-free nature, its high levels of protein, its B vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9 (folate) and amino acids.  Amaranth contains a particularly important amino acid to note, lysine.  Lysine is not present in other grains in great quantity, which makes amaranth a great complement to wheat and corn in a healthy diet. In addition, it carries big whopping doses of minerals, especially manganese and magnesium, but also iron, calcium, and zinc. 

Amaranth has become a popular cereal grain, adding a different facet of flavor to cereals that once only offered one note of flavor and texture.  Amaranth adds a crunchy mouth feel and earthy flavor that complements and deepens multi-grain cereal flakes.  It is a lovely addition to granola or musli as well, and toasted like popcorn, adds a wonderful texture to granola bars.

Amaranth has certainly joined the ranks with the other whole grains in offering an alternative to empty calorie processed wheat flour and plain old white rice, packing a vitamin and mineral punch and adding  wonderful new notes to the grain spectrum.  Try amaranth out for something new and different in a healthy daily diet.

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