Food & Wine
Are your foodie friends forever going on about amaranth but you're too ashamed to admit you don't know what they're talking about? We've got all the answers.
WHAT IS AMARANTH?
Amaranth was first harvested by the Aztecs, who referred to it as 'the grain of the gods' because they believed it had supernatural powers. As such they used it in religious rituals. This ancient grain is a protein power punch, rich in lysine and magnesium. It's also a great source of iron and calcium, it's low GI and it's gluten-free - ideal for coeliacs. You can also eat the leaves, just like spinach or silverbeet.
WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?
The leaves are similar to spinach and they're fresh and lovely in stir-fries or vegetarian frittatas. The grain form is similar to brown rice in taste, ie nutty and almost malty.
WHERE CAN I FIND IT?
Ceres Organics sells it in grain and puffed form - look for it in organics stores, health food shops and some supermarkets. You can also grow it yourself and really impress everyone.
WHAT CAN I USE INSTEAD?
Other ancient grains like quinoa or spelt are perfect replacements if you can't source amaranth. You could also experiment with buckwheat, bulgur, millet or brown rice.
GOT ANY GOOD RECIPES USING IT?
Amaranth as a grain is great for adding to winter casseroles and soups as it's a wonderful natural thickener. You can also puff or pop the grain, like popcorn, for a healthy snack. Some people eat it for breakfast as you would oats. This recipe uses amaranth leaves and stems in a tasty stir-fry, while this one is a delicious way to use the grains. ese recipes using amaranth; one using the leaves and stems and the other using amaranth in its grain form.
Because it is non-bloating, amaranth is a superb food to include in your diet if you suffer from IBS. It is known the globe over as a nutritional superfood. Think of it as nature's broom for your system.
Trudi Nelson is a member of the New Zealand Guild of Food Writers. Check out www.fresh.co.nz for more of her recipes or call her on 0800 FRESH TV.
Is there an ingredient you're confused by? Send us an email - be sure to put Secret Ingredient in the subject line - and we'll investigate it for you.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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