Amaranth is an ancient crop which for thousands of years was grown in Mexico by the Mayan and Incan civilizations. Today it is grown and harvested in Mexico, Peru, Nepal, parts of Asia and the United States and is becoming increasingly popular in the developed countries due to its high nutritional value.
Amaranth is the common name for over 60 species of the Amaranthus plant. Some species are grown for their edible leaves, some for decorative purposes, others for their nutritious seeds. Amaranth (the seed) is exceptionally high in protein, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. It is the only grain that contains Vitamin C. It is also naturally gluten free and has the potential to lower cholesterol.
Amaranth is really a ‘pseudo’ cereal as it belongs to a different plant species than oats, wheat and other ‘true’ cereals. However, because of the similar nutritional profile of both amaranth and the ‘true’ cereals, as well as their similar use in our diet amaranth is typically treated as a whole grain.
Cooking amaranth is simple and relatively quick. Use 1 portion of amaranth to 2.5 portions of water. Rinse the amaranth in a fine sieve, place in a saucepan, add the water, cover and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Leave to stand for a few minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Cooked amaranth retains a bit of a crunch, though is soft on the inside. It is also quite sticky once it’s been cooked, but you can rinse it to get rid of the stickiness. Cooked amaranth (whether rinsed or not) can be added to salads, desserts or side dishes, as well as soups. It can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Cooked and rinsed amaranth