- Cooking With Grains: Amaranth
- What’s Amaranth?
- The Truth About Amaranth
- Where Can I Find Amaranth in the Grocery Store?
- Where to Buy Amaranth Online
- How To Store Amaranth
- How Long Does Amaranth Last?
- Nutritional Benefits of Amaranth
- What Are Ancient Grains?
- List of Ancient Grains
- Amaranth Vs Quinoa
- Amaranth Recipes
- How To Cook Amaranth
- Harvesting Amaranth Plants: When Is Amaranth Harvest Time
- Harvesting Amaranth Plants
- When to Harvest Amaranth
- How to Harvest Amaranth
Cooking With Grains: Amaranth
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For pre-Colombian Aztecs, amaranth was not only a dietary staple, but an important aspect of religious rituals, as the women would shape a mixture of amaranth seeds with honey and even human blood into idols to be eaten ceremoniously. Today, amaranth is often popped like popcorn and mixed with honey, molasses or chocolate to make a popular treat in Mexico called “alegría” (meaning “joy”). Although amaranth derives its name from the Greek for “never-fading flower,” it is amaranth’s highly nutritious seeds (and greens, though they are hard to find), not its vibrant red blooms, that are its most valuable asset.
Like buckwheat and quinoa, amaranth is an especially high-quality source of plant protein including two essential amino acids, lysine and methionine, which are generally low in grains. Amaranth is packed with iron and calcium, and its fiber content is triple that of wheat. Amaranth is completely gluten-free and suitable for those with celiac disease; what’s more, it is an especially digestible grain, making it a traditional food for people recovering from illness or transitioning from a fast or cleanse.
As one of the less mainstream grains, your best bet for locating amaranth is at your local natural food store. Looking for how to cook amaranth in a delicious dish? Try this amaranth recipe.
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Liquid per cup of grain: 2 1/2 – 3 cups
How to cook amaranth: Combine amaranth seeds with two and a half cups water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for up to 20 minutes, until grains are fluffy and water is absorbed. For a porridge-like consistency, use slightly more water (three cups for one cup of grain) and cook a little longer. You can also “pop” amaranth like corn; simply preheat a pot or skillet over high heat (must be very hot), and add amaranth seeds one or two tablespoons at a time (adding too many seeds at once can cause them to burn). Continuously stir the seeds with a spoon as they pop, and once mostly popped, quickly remove from pan. Repeat with more seeds if desired. Popped amaranth can be enjoyed on its own or served with milk or soymilk and fruit for a healthy breakfast.
Try amaranth in this recipe: Toasted Grain Pilaf
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Amaranth is part of the ancient grains and has been harvested for over 8000 years. For Vegans, it’s one of the best sources of protein.
Have you ever thought you knew things about a type of food that turned out to be completely wrong?
For me, it’s the Amaranth grain.
I always thought that it was Indian in origin and confined to Indian cooking.
None of that is true!
I happened to be researching ancient grains when I saw the truth about Amaranth. It completely floored me and I felt that I need to research it some more.
The first thing that threw me off is the name. The first part of name, “Amar” translates to “immortal” in Hindi. So, you can see why I associated it with Indian cuisine.
Amaranth has found its way in Indian cooking and is more commonly known as “Ramdana” which translates to “God’s Grain”.
But, here is the real skinny on Amaranth…
The Truth About Amaranth
– Amaranth is the group name of about 60 different amaranthus plants – Source: Whole Grain Council.
– Of all 60 different plants, 3 of them are commonly grown as food consumption
– Amaranthus cruenus
– Amaranthus hypochondriacus
– Amaranthus caudatus (AKA Love Lies Bleeding!)
– It was originally grown and harvested by the Aztecs. How cool is that! We are consuming the same grains that the Aztecs used to eat. It makes me so happy to know that fact. Source: AncientGrains.com
– The Aztecs didn’t just use it for food. They used it in their rituals and also for medicinal purposes. This grain has so much nutrition, so, it’s understandable that they thought it has healing powers.
– When the Spanish Conquistadors took over, they burned most of the plants. They considered the plants to be “evil”. Anyone caught with it was punished heavily. Can you imagine living in a world where owning a grain could cause you to lose your life?
– The grain almost went into extinction, but, you just can’t keep a good grain down! It found its way into Mexico and Central America where it flourishes today.
– It’s considered a “Psuedo-grain” and not a true cereal grain. True cereals grow from the Poaceae family of plants. Pseudo-grains grow from other plants. To me, it makes no difference! Psuedo or true, I will devour it.
Where Can I Find Amaranth in the Grocery Store?
The grain, if the store carries it, will be in the flour section or the “lentil” section. I have to admit that I have found it hard to get this grain in my local grocery store.
– I think there are very few Publix that carry it. The good news is that you can always ask the store manager to stock the shelves with it.
– Walmart has it in only some of its stores. They are also very happy to carry it in their stores if you ask them.
– Whole Foods occasionally carries them in their grains aisle
– I haven’t seen it in any Target stores, but, I did ask the manager if they would be kind enough to carry it in their stores. They said they would try their best to carry it, so, you might get lucky and see it in your local Target soon.
If all else fails, there is always the Cyber Aisle!
Where to Buy Amaranth Online
I feel so lucky to be living in the cyber age where I can order almost any ingredient online. This 8000-year-old grain is so easy to order online!
– (Affiliate Link) Amazon
– Walmart – You can order it online and have it shipped to your local Walmart. This way you don’t have to pay for shipping. Of all the ways to order it online, I found Walmart to be the cheapest
– Google Express – I believe that Whole Foods sells Amaranth via Google Express
– Vitacost – Vitacost is my go-to place for anything vegan or vegetarian that is hard to find elsewhere. They also have a huge collection of Amaranth for you to choose from. is from search results for all their Amaranth products.
– Directly from Bob’s Red Mill – I haven’t purchased anything directly from Bob’s Red Mill, so, I can’t vouch for their ordering process. But, they carry Amaranth and other grains online.
How To Store Amaranth
– Remove the Amaranth from their packaging and transfer to a glass bottle.
– Keep it tightly sealed
– Store in a cool, dry place. I keep it in the back shelves of my pantry
How Long Does Amaranth Last?
Amaranth is “immortal”, so, they can last for a very very long time. My personal preference is to use them within 6 months of opening the packet.
Amaranth doesn’t go bad, but, I live in Florida where I see flour bugs (weevils) quite often. So, I like to use all dry ingredients as soon as I can.
Amaranth is good in so many recipes, so, a one-pound bag can be consumed in less than a month.
Nutritional Benefits of Amaranth
Amaranth is known as a superfood for good reasons. Cook one cup of Amaranth and you get so much nutrition from it!
Just one cup of Amaranth has:
– 9g of Protein (18% RDA)
– 5g of Dietary Fiber (20%)
– 11% Calcium
– 28% Iron
– 40% Magnesium
– 15% Vitamin B6
As a vegan/vegetarian, those numbers make me do cartwheels!
I find that Amaranth also gives me so much more energy because I don’t feel sluggish after eating a salad. I also find that it helps my digestion process. So, I see so many benefits of it.
What Are Ancient Grains?
Ancient grains are grains that haven’t changed in thousands of years. They existed in the early days of man (or possibly before that) and continue to thrive in our century.
Some of these ancient grains are processed and have gone through selective breeding in their long history. But, they remain part of the ancient grain collective.
They are also referred to as heritage grains.
Source: The Ancient Grain Council
List of Ancient Grains
1. Amaranth – I have an AMAZING amaranth recipe. It’s the best Amaranth recipe you have ever seen!
2. Buckwheat – I am working on a dessert recipe using buckwheat and will post it soon.
3. Chia – Having chia seeds on this list makes me really happy. Have you tried my Mandarin Oranges or Peanut Satay sauce? I put chia seeds in them and they made the recipe taste incredible!
4. Millet – No plans for a recipe just yet, but, I am working on it.
5. Quinoa – I have so many delicious recipes that use Quinoa. My favorite are Quinoa Fajitas and Quinoa Salad Wraps
6. Sorghum – I haven’t had much opportunity to work with this grain, but, I hope to learn more about it soon. I would love to make some vegan waffles out of them.
7. Farro – I discovered farro about 6 years ago at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Queens. I have to say that I loved how delicious it tasted and try to eat is often. You have to try my Farro salad which is beyond delicious.
8. Teff – Of all the grains on this list, Teff is the one that has given me the biggest challenge. I haven’t been able to get a good recipe out of it, but, I love the challenge that it gives me. I would love to make vegan bread out of it someday. Teff is not easy to find in stores, but you can easily find it on (affiliate link) Amazon.
Source: The Chopra Center
There are more ancient grains like rice, spelt, millet and others. The Ancient Grain council has the complete list of grains it considers ancient.
Amaranth Vs Quinoa
Both grains look so much alike and they are easy to confuse. They have the same color, shape, and texture!
The main visual difference, however, is that quinoa is slightly larger and a little lighter in color. Even with a clear visual difference, it is easy to mix those two up.
I label them with the brand and type of grain. I am sure I could have put fancy labels or even printables with the name of grains written in calligraphy.
But, where is the fun in that, right?
The difference in nutrition of these two grains is much more significant.
– Quinoa has slightly less protein than Amaranth
Quinoa has 8g of protein and amaranth has 9g. I will take that extra gram of protein any day.
– Amaranth has slightly more calories than quinoa.
Amaranth has 251cal and quinoa has 222cal. That’s not a huge difference, unless you are counting calories.
– Amaranth has more carbs than quinoa.
Quinoa wins this round because it has only 40g of carbs where as the other grain has 46g.
The biggest difference is when you cook them. At that point, there is no confusion as to which one is quinoa and which one is amaranth.
– You HAVE to try my Amaranth Tabouli recipe!
– Amaranth Porridge by The Foodie Affair
– Black Bean Burgers by Vegan Richa
– Pancakes by King Arthur’s Flour (Not exactly a blogger, but the pancakes look delish!)
– Porridge by Madeline Shaw
How To Cook Amaranth
1) Add 3 cups of water to a strong bottom pan
2) Bring it to a boil
3) Add 1 cup of dry amaranth seeds
4) Give it a quick stir
5) Close the lid and let it cook on low heat
6) Simmer until the water has been absorbed (about 20 minutes)
Remove from heat and use in recipe. Its normal for the cooked amaranth to be sticky and clumpy. You can crumble it in the recipe you put it into.
It only takes 2 ingredients to cook amaranth
5 from 2 votes Pin Course: Ingredient Cuisine: Mexican Prep Time: 1 minute Cook Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 21 minutes Servings: 1 person Calories: 716kcal Author: Healing Tomato
- 3 cup water
- 1 cup Amaranth
- Add 3 cups of water to a strong bottom pan
- Bring it to a boil
- Add 1 cup of dry amaranth seeds
- Give it a quick stir
- Close the lid and let it cook on low heat
- Simmer until the water has been absorbed (about 20 minutes)
Remove from heat and use in recipe
Its normal for the cooked amaranth to be sticky and slightly clumpy. You can crumble it in the recipe you put it into.
Calories: 716kcal | Carbohydrates: 125g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 45mg | Potassium: 980mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin C: 8.1mg | Calcium: 329mg | Iron: 14.7mg Tried this recipe?Follow me @healingtomato1 and mention #healingtomato1!
Harvesting Amaranth Plants: When Is Amaranth Harvest Time
If you are growing amaranth, it’s no wonder, with its nutrient rich greens and seeds. Plus, the seed heads are truly lovely and add a unique focal point to the landscape. So when the amaranth seed heads are plainly visible, is it time to harvest the amaranth? How do you know when to harvest amaranth? Read on to find out how to harvest amaranth and other information about harvesting amaranth grains.
Harvesting Amaranth Plants
Amaranth is a plant that falls into one of four categories: grain, vegetable, ornamental or weed. The differences are more or less cultural preferences, as all types are edible and highly nutritious. Both the greens and seeds are edible, with the greens tasting somewhat like spinach, and the seeds milled into flour or eaten much like quinoa with a similar protein punch.
While of the 60-70 species of amaranth, 40 are considered native to the Americas, you are likely growing one of three: A. hypochondriacus (Prince’s Feather), A. cruentus (Purple Amaranth) or A. tricolor (Tampala, which is grown chiefly for its leaves). The seeds from the first two are off-white to pale pink, while the latter is black and shiny.
Harvesting amaranth grains from all types of amaranth is okay but, in some arenas, mixing the black seed in with the paler grains is considered to be a contaminant, which is purely cosmetic in thinking since
they are all edible.
When to Harvest Amaranth
You can begin harvesting amaranth plants for greens almost immediately. Young greens are perfect for salads, while older greens are better when cooked like spinach.
Seeds ripen about three months after planting, usually in the mid- to late summer, depending on your climate and when you planted. They are ready to harvest when they begin to fall from the flower head (tassel). Give the tassel a gentle shake. If you see seeds falling from the tassel, it’s amaranth harvest time.
How to Harvest Amaranth
Now that you’ve ascertained that the seed is ready to harvest, you can either cut, hang dry the plants and then separate the seeds from the chaff, or wait to cut the tassel from the plant on a dry day, 3-7 days after a hard frost. By then, the seeds will definitely be dry. However, the birds may have gotten to a lot more of them than you will.
Another way to harvest the amaranth is once the seeds begin to readily fall from the tassels, take the seed heads in your hands and rub them over a bucket to catch the seed. The latter method will require multiple harvests in this manner to remove any remaining seeds as they dry. It also lessens the amount of debris and chaff that needs to be removed.
Regardless of how you harvest your amaranth seeds, you will need to winnow out the chaff from the seed. You can do this by means of successive sieves; stack different sized sieves from smallest on the bottom to the largest at the top and shake the seeds and chaff through them. Once you take your sieve stack apart, you will be left with one that contains only seeds.
You can also use the ‘ramp’ method for removing the seeds from the chaff. This is also referred to as the ‘blow and fly’ method and should really be done outside, lest you want a mess in your kitchen. Set a cookie sheet flat on the ground and using a cutting board, create an angled ramp. Pour the seed onto the cookie sheet and blow towards the ramp. Seeds will roll up the ramp and back down, while the chaff will blow beyond the cutting board.
Once you have harvested the amaranth, it needs to be completely dried before you store it; otherwise, it will mold. Leave it on trays to dry in the sun or inside near an indoor heating source. Stir the seed around on occasion until they are completely dry. Store them in an air tight container in a cool, dry area for up to 6 months.