What is amaranth? We’ve got deets on this ancient grain including some delicious amaranth superfood recipes!
Superfoods are a hot topic right now, and one thing that bothers me about the whole “superfood” trend is that many of these foods are very expensive. I don’t like the idea that nourishing your body has to break the bank, so when I come across superfoods that are affordable, I love to share them!
Before we get into amaranth’s superfood powers, let’s talk about what superfood even means. Here’s the thing: ever since we started moving from gathering to farming, we’ve been selectively breeding our plants. Over thousands of years, we have managed to breed most of the nutrients out of many common crops that we grow. Foods like iceberg lettuce are a good example. Iceberg lettuce has basically no nutrients. It’s not bad for you, but it’s nowhere near as healthy as other salad greens like arugula, spinach, or even dark green and red lettuces. Superfoods are ones that we haven’t monkeyed with as much or that have managed to retain those high nutrient contents over hundreds of decades of selective breeding.
What is amaranth?
Amaranth is an “ancient grain.” Unlike wheat and rice, the amaranth we grow today is a whole lot like the amaranth that grew centuries ago. It’s nutrient-packed. If you’ve never cooked with amaranth, think of it as a slightly smaller quinoa or a wheatier-tasting couscous in terms of consistency. It’s great in soups, salads, baking, and even for breakfast!
The ancient Aztecs considered amaranth a sacred grain, and no wonder! One cup of cooked amaranth has a whopping 9 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. It has 12 percent of your daily calcium requirement, balanced with 40 percent of your daily magnesium. Since calcium and magnesium work together to build healthy bones, amaranth is just as good for bone health – if not better then! – a glass of cow’s milk. Combine that with 30 percent of your RDA for iron, and you have got a grain that packs quite the nutritional punch!
Where can I find amaranth?
You can find amaranth in the bulk bins at most natural food stores, and this is hands-down the least expensive option. After you check the bulk bins, take a peek at the grains aisle. It would be with the bags of quinoa and wild rice. Not finding it on store shelves either? If you can’t find it in the store, Bob’s Red Mill is a great brand, and their amaranth is available online.
Amaranth Superfood Recipes
I’ve looked high and low for the best amaranth superfood recipes or recipes where you could use amaranth in place of another grain.
4. Simple Breakfast Cereal – Use amaranth in place of quinoa.
Do you have any favorite recipes using amaranth? I’d love to hear how you’re cooking it up in the comments!
Image Credit: Amaranth photo via Shutterstock