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The Benefits of Amaranth

by Nancy Maneely

Congratulations! You’ve expanded your dietary horizons to venture past the ubiquitous wheat pasta to include other whole grains into your daily menus. Maybe you enjoy brown rice with your chicken … toss a handful ofThe Benefits of Amaranth barley into simmering soups … perhaps even checked out the new recipes for quinoa in your favorite magazine?

Now it’s time to add another “superfood” to your life: amaranth.  Like quinoa, this one’s considered a superfood due to its densely packed nutritional profile. But unlike quinoa, amaranth isn’t technically a grain, but rather, a seed.

Why Amaranth is Considered a Superfood:

Nutrition profile of a 1-cup serving of amaranth (cooked):

  • 9 grams protein, 5 grams dietary fiber
  • Low-sodium – 15mg (1% Daily Value)
  • Estimated glycemic load of 21 (target total is 100 or less per day)
  • Percent Daily Values of the following essential nutrients: 105% manganese, 40% magnesium, 36% phosphorus, 29% iron, 19% selenium, 18% copper, 12% calcium, 14% Vitamin B6, 14% folate.

You can find amaranth at most health food stores and natural/gourmet grocery shops. It can be a bit pricey, but considering how concentrated the nutrition is – it’s worth every penny! 

Amaranth is delicious when combined with other grains such as millet and quinoa to make a light and fluffy pilaf. Try it in tabouli as a replacement for couscous. Stir it into soups or stews for a protein boost. You may have even seen amaranth sold in puffed form, as a cereal or granola ingredient, but this is very easy to make yourself at home. Simply heat a skillet on the stove, add a couple tablespoons of uncooked amaranth, place a lid on top and swirl the pan until the seeds pop. You can combine puffed amaranth with nut butter and honey to make a delicious and simple energy bar. 

For easier digestibility, soak amaranth seeds for 8-10 hours in cold water prior to cooking. You don’t need to do this but it may enhance absorption of nutrients.

To cook amaranth seeds:

Boil 1 cup seeds in 2 1/2 cups water for 18-20 minutes. Don’t overcook them as they will become gummy!

Amaranth has a mild, sweet, nutty flavor and you can enhance the flavor by gently sautéing the cooked seeds, as with quinoa.

Do you have a favorite recipe using amaranth?

Easy Healthy Recipes

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