Technically a pseudocereal, amaranth is an ancient grain that deserves a spot in your pantry. Here’s everything you need to know!
Originally a staple of ancient civilizations (including the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans), amaranth is an incredibly versatile and nutritious pseudocereal that’s naturally gluten-free.
While native to South America and Mexico, amaranth seeds have since spread to Africa, Asia and the United States. As it thrives in low-water conditions, it’s especially valuable in more arid regions.
Amaranth seeds are a light tan and look like tiny beads. Taste-wise, amaranth has the characteristic nutty, earthy flavor of most whole grains, with the most similar comparison being brown rice or wheat berries.
Amaranth’s claim-to-fame is that it has the most protein of all the whole grains, and that, like quinoa, it’s a plant-based complete protein.
So how much protein does it actually contain? One cup of cooked amaranth has 9.3 grams of filling protein!
Other nutrition stats for 1 cup cooked include:
As with all whole grains, amaranth should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. It will last in the pantry for up to 6 months, but for longer storage keep it in the freezer for up to a year.
How to use amaranth in cooking and baking
When using in baking and cooking, think of it more as a couscous or farina than rice or barley.
Whether savory or sweet, to cook amaranth follow the 3:1 ratio (3 parts liquid to 1 part amaranth). Combine the amaranth with the liquid of choice, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until softened. Drain any leftover water and enjoy!
For easier digestion, you can soak amaranth in water for 1-3 days prior to cooking.
A note about amaranth is that while it does get softer on the outside, it retains a pop or crunch on the inside, which is why I especially love it for breakfast porridges or as a healthier pudding (recipe coming your way Friday!).
Looking to warm up with a bowl of soup? Throw 1/4 cup of amaranth into the batch while it cooks for a littel extra fiber and texture.
The most unique use, however, is to pop amaranth on the stove. Popped amaranth is a fun way to add a little crunch to granola, homemade granola bars, or salads.
What are your favorite ways to enjoy amaranth? Share in the comments below or tag @TheHealthyToast_RD on Instagram!
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