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Food for thought – Grains: Amaranth

Food for thought – Grains: Amaranth

by FoodMaestro | 29 June 2016

Amaranth – a delicious naturally gluten-free grain.

What is Amaranth?

Amaranth is actually a seed of the amaranth plant so not technically a grain. It´s a pseudo-cereal just like buckwheat or millet, and one plant can produce up to 60,000 seeds.

Amaranth is regarded as a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids, while many other grains are missing lysine. For total protein content, by comparison, a cup of long-grain white rice has just 13 grams of protein - half that of amaranth’s protein content of 26 grams per cup.

Why choose Amaranth?

Amaranth is a protein powerhouse since it easily outdoes the protein content of most other grains by 13-14%. Amaranth is also good for your heart; it has shown potential to lower cholesterol in several studies conducted over the past 14 years. Patients who had coronary heart disease and hypertension showed benefits from including amaranth in their diets. Research also showed that a significant decrease in the amounts of total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol. Amaranth also contains more than three times the average amount of calcium, is also high in iron magnesium, phosphorus and potassium and is also the only grain documented to contain vitamin C.

Allergic or special diet, can I eat it?

Amaranth is gluten-free which makes it perfect for those of you that have coeliac disorder or gluten intolerance. Amaranth, like quinoa, another pseudo-cereal was always believed to be non-toxic in coeliac disease based on their plant classification as a ‘dicot’, whereas wheat, rye and barley are from the grass family and are ‘monocots’.  This has confirmed immunologically by scientists.

How to prepare?

There is one simple rule that must be followed when cooking plain amaranth, ensure you add plenty of water. You should at least have 6 cups of water for every one cup of amaranth.  The tiny grains do not absorb that much liquid, but what is there definitely thickens.

Where to source?

You can use the FoodMaestro app to search for products, amaranth can be found in bread, ricecakes or crispbread.


Try something new 

Popped: the new miniature popcorn. Amaranth actually looks like tiny popcorn kernels with a nutty taste and you can simply “pop” them yourself at home. Popped amaranth are common breakfast cereals similar to rice krispies or corn puffs. You can even start seeing it pop up in processed foods like granola bars. It´s quite entertaining to “pop” these grains in a pan and it pops open and turns white just like a little popcorn. Fun for the kids!

The grain can be added in cookies or baked goods, sprinkled on top of breads or shake them over a salad for healthy crunch. 

Recipes we’d like to try:

Tabbouleh-Style Amaranth Salad

Breakfast bowl with Amaranth Granola

See other grains: