Amaranth

It’s summertime and the temperatures and humidity have definitely risen. Our appetites may have shifted a bit and we may be craving more fruits and vegetables, but will still have to eat a well-balanced diet. One way to incorporate grains and essential amino acids into our diets is through a grain called amaranth.

Amaranth has Aztec roots and is similar to a cereal grain, but it’s not in the same family. It has a light nutty or peppery flavor and this edible starchy seed must be cooked to be digestible. High in iron, fiber, the essential amino acid lysine, manganese, calcium, and is one of the only grains to contain Vitamin C. This is a high-quality source of plant protein making it suitable for vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free diets and its inexpensive too! It can be found in the bulk section at Whole Foods Market near the studio.

You can incorporate amaranth into your everyday meals. Because of its versatility, can be used to make breakfast bowls, as a side dish, main course, or dessert like in Mexico, where it is mixed with honey and used to make a candy called alegría, which means joy.

Try these recipes:

Breakfast Amaranth Porridge

Recipe by Martha Rose Schulman of the The New York Times

Ingredients

    •       ½ cup amaranth

    •       1 ½ cups water

    •       ¼ cup milk, almond milk or rice milk(more to taste)

    •       2 teaspoons maple syrup or brown sugar or, if available, Mexican piloncillo

    •        Pinch of salt

Instructions

    1.     Combine the amaranth and water in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Stir every once in a while, as the amaranth may stick to the bottom of the pan.

    2.     Stir in the milk, syrup or brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Stir vigorously until the porridge is creamy. Remove from the heat and serve.

Tip:  Advance preparation: You can make more than you need and keep the remainder in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Amaranth reheats well. Add a little more milk when            reheating.

Tabbouleh-Style Amaranth Salad

Recipe by Cooking Light

Ingredients

            1 1/2 cups cold water

            1/2 cup uncooked whole-grain amaranth (such as Arrowhead Mills)

            2 cups diced unpeeled English cucumber

            1/2 cup thinly sliced celery

            1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

            1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

            1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

            1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

            2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

            1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

            2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

            1/4 teaspoon salt

            1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

            1/2 cup drained no-salt-added canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

            1 cup (4 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled

            Lemon wedges (optional)   .      

Instructions

1.          Bring 1 1/2 cups cold water and amaranth to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes or until water is almost absorbed (it will have the appearance of mush).

2.          While amaranth cooks, combine cucumber and next 11 ingredients in a large bowl.

3.          Place amaranth in a sieve, and rinse under cold running water until room temperature;

4.          Drain well, pressing with the back of a spoon.

5.          Add to cucumber mixture; toss to blend. Add cheese; toss gently.

6.          Garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.                                                                     

Cook's Notes: It’s important that the amaranth is placed in a fine      mesh sieve. The grain is so tiny that it will slip through a traditional strainer. If one is not available, place the cooked amaranth on a large baking sheet, and spread it in a thin layer so it will cool without clumping together.