Some say amaranth is the new quinoa, others say it’s better than oatmeal, and a whole lot of folks have no idea what it is! Until we recently bought it on a whim at the grocery store, we fell into that last category. We were oblivious to amaranth’s nutritional value and and culinary versatility, which is a real shame considering how tasty this gluten-free, vitamin-rich seed is! Today we explain why amaranth is so good and share recipe ideas so you can incorporate this nutty seed into hearty, healthy meals this winter.
Amaranth’s Nutritional Benefits
- Free of cholesterol and gluten; low in sodium and fat.
- High in easily digestible proteins (9g per serving), Amaranth has been a staple food to indigenous populations for centuries.
- Mineral rich – calcium (11% DV), magnesium (40% DV), iron (28%), zinc (14%), manganese (105% DV) and phosphorus (36% DV). These minerals help build strong bones and muscles, aid hydration, boost energy, and are vital in thousands of processes throughout the body.
- Good source of fiber; 1 cup = 5g fiber or 20% daily value (DV). Consuming ample fiber helps maintain blood pressure levels and increases feelings of fullness.
- Good source of Vitamin B-6, which maintains nervous systems function, high energy levels, and regulates hormones.
- Contains peptides and oils that reduce inflammation.
Basic Cooking Instructions
Technically, you can eat amaranth in three forms – leaf, seed or flour. Amaranth flour is sometimes used to bake tasty gluten free desserts and breads, but we generally prefer to prepare Amaranth in the same ways we would quinoa (for savory dishes) or oatmeal (for breakfasts). Amaranth is cooked similarly to quinoa but the texture turns out more gummy and not as fluffy. It can be a little tricky to cook properly on your first attempt, so follow preparation instructions closely and don’t give up if your first batch isn’t an award winner!
Prior to cooking, it’s ideal to soak amaranth in water for at least 4 hours or overnight if possible. The soaking reduces cooking time and breaks down the seed to make it more easily digestible. If you don’t have time for a soak, it’ll be okay, just make sure to rinse the amaranth seeds.
- In small pot or saucepan, combine:
- 1/2 cup of amaranth
- 1 1/2 cups water (1:3 amaranth/water ratio)
- pinch of sea salt
- optional (1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil)
- Once the mixture reaches a boil, reduce and let it simmer (uncovered) until the water is absorbed. 18-22 minutes
- Once cooked, fluff with fork and serve with veggie stirfry, fried eggs or any other way you typically eat rice, pasta or quinoa.
Delicious Ways To Eat Amaranth
Amaranth Avocado Bowl
Prepare amaranth as described above. Immediately after cooking, ladle 1 cup cooked amaranth into bowl, drizzle with sesame seed oil and tamari sauce. Top with soft boiled egg and desired combination of raw vegetables; we suggest: radish, cucumber or zucchini ribbons, avocado and sprouts. To finish, generously sprinkle avocado with nutritional yeast and egg with Furikaki.
Amaranth Blueberry Porridge with Caramelized Ginger Kumquats (via The Green Life)
This recipe is delicious but also time consuming. For a quicker amaranth porridge, simply prepare amaranth as usual; while still in saucepan on low heat, stir in nut milk, fresh berries, and a touch of maple syrup. Once ladled into your bowl, top with your favorite superfoods like coconut shreds, hazelnut chunks, chia seeds, banana, etc.
Popped Amaranth and Hemp Chocolate Bark (via Nutrition Stripped)
If you enjoy popped quinoa in chocolate or cereals, you’ll love this recipe. The combination of hemp and chia with the amaranth amps up the nutty flavor to make this chocolate bark a healthy sweet that you’ll become obsessed with. Once you master the art of popping amaranth, you can enjoy it in cereals and savory snack mixes!
Amaranth Corn Fritters
These pair perfectly with salad or served as an appetizer with a greek yogurt dipping sauce.
Images by HonestlyFIT, The Green Life, Nutrition Stripped and PBS