Amaranth, the sacred grain of the Aztecs, is native to Mexico, Guatemala, Peru and Bolivia. Amaranth was grown for thousands of years but disappeared in the early 1500s during the Spanish conquest.
Amaranth is actually called "grain amaranth" to distinguish it from "vegetable amaranth" which is a closely related plant. Amaranth is a tiny round seed about half the size of a millet seed. The National Academy of Sciences has cited amaranth as one of the world’s most promising foods. There are several reasons for this. It 's a hardy crop, resistant to drought and cold; it is higher in fat and oil than other grains. (It is not, of course, considered a high fat food); it contains the highest quality protein and is unusually high in lysine and methionine-amino acids which are often in short supply in other grains. Amaranth supplies all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. The other qualities which make amaranth a "super grain" are its high fiber and its abundance of calcium, iron and vitamin C
Amaranth has a distinct flavor and aroma. Some people might describe it as nutty and sweet, but for others, the flavor is simply too strong. The grain cooks to a rather sticky and glutinous texture which limits its versatility Amaranth is best used in high energy fiber bars and other highly flavored recipes. Most people would not care to have amaranth as a simple complement to a vegetable and bean dish.
HOW TO PREPARE:
Basic Cooked Amaranth: Use a ratio of 2½ to 3 parts water to 1 part grain. Using less water will make the grain chewier. Using more water will give the grain the texture of mushy cooked cereal. Bring the water to a boil and stir in the grain. Return to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer. Keep covered until all the water is absorbed - about 20 to 25 minutes.
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