Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bulk Bins!

The name amaranth hails from the Greek for "never-fading flower." The plant is an annual herb, not a "true" grain and is a relative of pigweed.

Amaranth was a staple in the diets of pre-Columbian Aztecs, who believed it had supernatural powers and incorporated it into their religious ceremonies. The grain was forbidden by the Spanish, and consequently fell into obscurity for hundreds of years. If not for the fact that the cultivation of amaranth continued in a few remote areas of the Andes and Mexico, it may have become extinct and completely lost to us. Since 1975 amaranth has been gaining support in the U.S.

Today, amaranth grains are toasted much like popcorn and mixed with honey or molasses to make a treat called alegría. Amaranth can be cooked as a cereal, ground into flour, popped like popcorn, sprouted, or toasted. The seeds can be cooked with other whole grains, added to stir-fry or to soups and stews as a nutrient dense thickening agent. Amaranth flour is used in making pastas and baked goods. It must be mixed with other flours for baking yeast breads, as it contains no gluten. One part amaranth flour to 3-4 parts wheat or other grain flours may be used. To cook amarant
 h boil 1 cup seeds in 2-1/2 cups liquid such as water or half water and half stock or apple juice until seeds are tender, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Amaranth seed is high in protein. The fiber content of amaranth is three times that of wheat and its iron content, five times more than wheat. It contains two times more calcium than milk. It is also high in potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and C. Finally, amaranth is a gluten-free grain able to be tolerated by those with celiac.

Click here for a couple of recipes to help you incorporate this highly nutritious food into your diet!
Amaranth Stir-Fry
2 cups cooked amaranth
2 Tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp seasoning
Sauté veggies, garlic, almonds and seeds in the oil until vegetables are tender crisp. Add soy sauce, seasonings and amaranth or quinoa. Mix well until warmed through.

Orange Amaranth Muffins
1 1/2 cups Amaranth flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons dry yeast
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup skimmed milk
3 tsp. grated orange rind
1/4 cup raisins
2 egg whites
Prepare a 12 cup muffin pan by brushing with oil. Sift together flour and salt in a bowl. Add yeast and milk together. In a mixing bowl, beat egg yokes until thick. Add honey and oil. Combine skim milk with egg mixture. Stir in flour mixture. Add orange rind and raisins. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold beaten egg whites into batter until well combined. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Place in warm area or shallow bowl of hot water, cover, and let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake for 30 minutes.

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