26 November 2010


Have you noticed a little green leafed offering on the extra’s table over the past few weeks? Chances are you may have been intrigued, picked up a bunch to inspect it and been a little put off by the somewhat light furry or bristle texture of the leaves. That bunch of rough textured greens is called Amaranth and it is DELICIOUS and SO nutritious.
When our whole foods, organic journey delved a little deeper a few years back, I was amazed when I started reading about this somewhat ‘super green’ and ‘super grain’. Whilst running probably (and I guess this is individual view) but probably a close second to quinoea in terms of a vegetarian super offering, amaranth is really a power house of nutrition.

At the moment at FIG, we have the amaranth greens, which can be used fresh in salads (don’t be discouraged by the rougher texture of the leaves, it really is not at all noticeable as you eat them), lightly steamed, or used in any number of creative ways for vegetarian dishes. Amaranth greens have a higher nutritional content than spinach! Certain strains of Amaranth are actually considered WEEDS! Can you believe it. As one source says “If the weeds in your garden turn out to be the ubiquitous green amaranth, give thanks to Mother Nature and make the best of it” - Asian online recipes
Whilst we have been enjoying the greens through FIG, most people are probably more familiar with Amaranth as a grain, and whilst it is referred to as a grain, the amaranth grain is actually a seed. You can sprout the seed as you would an alfalfa seed and enjoy a nutritious little protein boost from this versatile gift from nature. Many people are also probably used to seeing amaranth as a puffed cereal offering in natural health stored. Whilst FIG doesn’t take the position of telling folk what they should or shouldn’t eat, we do like to keep the flow of information that we find interesting, open to the FIG community. So if you are used to eating amaranth seed as a puffed cereal, then you may want to consider some of the researched dangers of eating puffed cereals.

But aside from the puffed offerings, amaranth is available in many forms; greens, seed and amaranth flour. Of course if you have your own grain mill at home, the best way to have the freshest and most nutritious flour is to obtain the seed and then grind the seed through your mill to obtain fresh, nutrient rich flour. Unfortunately due to the way flour nowadays is milled, stored, transported etc, it quite often arrives in our homes devoid of much goodness at all, and has quite often turned rancid if it has not been processed to remove the oils, if it has then we are receiving a refined flour product which as mentioned above is devoid of it’s full potential nutrient density... But that’s a whole other issue for a whole other day. If you are interested in this point - you may like to read the ‘Whole Grains’ section of Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions. There is also some basic information about this issue on Health Banquet.

Back to amaranth flour. You can buy amaranth flour at the store, and if you do not have a grain mill, then to obtain the flour already ground is the next best option to use this nutritious seed as a flour. If you are interested in bringing a grain mill to your kitchen, then Skippy Grain Mills offer really beautiful mills. We use the Billy 100 in or kitchen and I would definitely recommend it to other folk interested in a grain mill for their family. It has served us very well and continues to do so. Amaranth Flour is a wonderful gluten free flour that can be successfully used in many baking applications. Amaranth flour also has 8 times the iron that wheat flour has.
We actually grow some amaranth ourselves last year and it was such a pleasure to have in the garden. Continuous pick greens with a delicious looking pink/red tinge to them. They produced on and on through the summer and when they finally went to seed we bagged up the seed heads and have them hanging, collecting the seed. We will use some of the seed and replant some more - although I have noticed little baby amaranth plants springing form the earth in the space they were growing last year, already!

However you enjoy amaranth; greens or seed; freshly ground or sprouted; raw, baked or steamed - one thing is for sure, your body will sing with the nutrient boost this gift from nature offers.

References; wikipedia, ripe organics, asian online recipes, nourished magazine

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