The history of Amaranth dates back 8,000 years, to the height of the ancient Aztec civilization, where it was cultivated as part of their staple diet.
In addition to its use as a core food crop, Amaranth was eaten in small cakes as an integral part of a ritual in religious ceremonies. Considered pagan by the Spanish, this spiritual significance, the production of Amaranth was later outlawed with the arrival of Cortez and the Spanish Conquistadors.
A Protein Powerhouse: The Nutritional Benefits of Amaranth
Amaranth is gluten-free and an especially high source of plant protein including two essential amino acids, lysine and methionine. Alternatively, most cereal grains, like wheat, are low in lysine. Amaranth has been noted for its cholesterol-lowering properties, is packed with iron, protein, calcium, and fiber. It is naturally gluten-free for those who can’t eat grains like wheat, rye, oats and barley. Amaranth is an especially digestible grain, making it a traditional food for people recovering from illness or transitioning from a fast or cleanse.
The Many Uses of Amaranth
Amaranth cooks easily – its peppery, nutty taste and porridge-like crunchy texture make for a perfect addition to breads, pancakes and muffins. You can sprinkle it on your salads, blend it into your parfaits and yogurts, or eat it as its own meal (like quinoa, rice or pasta). Cook it like porridge or cook and use it with pilaf. Add a couple of tbsp to your soup to take advantage of Amaranth's gelatinous quality to thicken soup. Amaranth can even be popped in a skillet like tiny popcorn kernels for a delicious, nutritious snack by itself.