From time to time, I like to include gluten-free grains in the kitchen. I am sensitive to wheat and other common types of grains, so I try to reduce their intake as much as I can.
One food I especially started to love while doing so:
One of the best things about this product is that it’s used like common grains (such as wheat and rye) though it is not actually a grain at all.
This means it’s gluten free. But keep in mind that it could potentially be processed in centers that also process wheat and other gluten-containing cereal crops.
Amaranth belongs to the pseudo-cereal group. Other foods of this group are quinoa and buckwheat, which are gluten free as well.
The History of Inca Wheat
Amaranth is one of the oldest crops in the world, known as one of the basic foods eaten by the Incas and Aztecs. Not by chance, another term for it is “Inca wheat.”
When the plant is in full bloom, you can marvel at the wonderful vibrant red, orange, and yellow shades of the flowers. The seeds look similar to millet, with a subtle nutty flavor.
Not only does it make a nice addition to a variety of recipes, it offers tremendous health benefits and lots of additional positive features as well.
Nutrients and Healthy Fats
Are you keeping an eye on your carbohydrate intake?
Compared with other regular cereals, amaranth ranks low in carb content, but it is rich in fiber.
Additionally, its high magnesium, calcium, and iron content stand out.
It is easily digestible, an adequate substitute for people with wheat intolerance or allergies.
Approximately 70% of the fats are unsaturated, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This is important because both of these essential acids have to be consumed in your food, as the body can’t produce them itself.
How to Use It
Here are two of the most common and practical suggestions for you to include these small grains in your recipes. These are basic ideas that can be adjusted to your personal cooking or baking routine.
Are you curious about trying a new kind of popcorn? Then it’s time to prepare this quick and easy treat!
Cover a dry pan with a lid and heat it up thoroughly. When hot, add some seeds and immediately remove the pan from the stove. Stir a bit and you’ll see them start to pop. They won’t be as big as popcorn, but they’re really nice.
When cooking the seeds, you will need to add triple the amount of water for them to soak up.
Add amaranth and water to a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and leave to simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. Take off the stove to sit for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
For a savory version, choose chicken or vegetable stock instead of water, or use milk for a sweeter taste. Serve as a side dish, flavored with herbs or spices, or as a porridge replacement for breakfast.
Tip: Add some grains into your boiling stew or soup to thicken the dish.
Where to Buy
Here at Foodal, we love the quality of Bob’s Red Mill products.
Bob’s Red Mill Organic Amaranth Grain available on Amazon
If you can’t find it in your local stores, then you can try Amazon for the whole grain variety.
Bob’s Red Mill Organic Amaranth Flour available on Amazon
If you’d like to try your hand at baking with it rather than soaking, then it’s also available in a flour form.
How to Store It
Keep the seeds in a dry container, away from direct light and heat. They can be stored this way for up to two months.
What about you? Do you have any plans to use this spectacular gluten-free grain in any of your baking or cooking? If so, let us and the other readers know in the comments below!
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Originally published October 28th, 2015. Updated and revised October 19th, 2017. Photos via Shutterstock. All other content © Foodal / Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.
The staff at Foodal are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.
About Nina-Kristin Isensee
Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.