Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Unknown Grain: Amaranth

This is a tiny little seed some would refer to as a weed because it is so prolific as weeds. It is about the size of a poppy seed and is highly nutritious because of its high proportion of lysine (an amino acid.) It can be added to your bread for a great flavor but only 15% of amaranth to the rest wheat flour. You can also add this little amaranth grain to soups and casseroles to provide a crunchy texture.

The picture shows the grain on the right and the fresh amaranth flour on the left. In a matter of 2 minutes, you can have fresh amaranth flour with all the nutrients in the flour.

An interesting aspect of this little grain is that it can be popped! You can add nutrition easily to a recipe with the popped amaranth. By placing about two tablespoons of the grain in a deep, dry, hot pan, it pops quickly. One-fourth grain will yield one cup of popped amaranth. Add this popped grain to dough to lighten the doughs texture.

I will say that I think it is a lot of trouble to pop. You have to do 2 Tbs. at a time (it burns really easily) in a very hot pan. It pops fairly fast but a lot of the grain begins to burn. You need to keep you pan shaking to keep the grain from being too still and burning. I think it is much easier to simply grind it into fresh flour.

So what do you do with this grain? You can mill the grain or pop the grain. It is a real plus for those with gluten allergies. This grain definitely qualifies for a gluten free diet.

Nutrition Information per 1/2 cup:
364 calories
14 g protein
6 g fat
1 g saturated fat
0 mg cholesterol
148 mg calcium
443 mg phosph.
7.4 mg iron
21 mg sodium
7 g dietary fiber
0 RE vitamin A
.08 mg thiamine
.20 mg riboflavin
4 mg vitamin C
1/3 mg niacin
356 mg potassium
65 g carbohydrate

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