I am trying to use more nutritious whole grains in my everyday diet and have recently discovered amaranth. This grain was a staple of the ancient Aztecs and Incas and is now known to be an excellent source of protein and other important nutrients.
For gardeners out there, it is good to know that amaranth grows well in the Midwest. It has a purplish-red plume topping and a reddish-green stalk. The greens have a delicious, slightly sweet flavor and can be used in cooking or in salads. The stems can be prepared like asparagus. The seeds (as seen in the accompanying picture) can be cooked like a cereal or sprouted. Because flour from amaranth lacks gluten, it is suitable for muffins and for flatbreads, but is not a good choice for yeast-raised breads. When substituting for wheat flour in recipes, use one part amaranth flour to three parts wheat. Nutrition information for amaranth is as follows:
Quinoa, pronounced “keen-wah”, is relatively new to the American market and has recently received much attention. Though unheard of not too many years ago, quinoa is actually an edible seed but is often referred to as an “ancient grain” and the “mother grain” of the Incas.
Quinoa comes in a variety of colors, black, red, yellow, and white. While a seed, it is classified as a whole grain and is good source of plant protein and fiber. The protein content is complete with an amino acid balance and higher protein content than any other grain. It’s a good source of iron, magnesium, zinc and some B vitamins. Quinoa is naturally gluten free making an ideal grain for those with a gluten intolerance.
There are so many ways that quinoa can be used; one can find a plethora of recipes using this ingredient online. Check one out today and begin to enjoy this nutritient-packed grain. You might want to start with this ‘how to’ guide from Colorado State University which includes more background and ideas for using quinoa.