Did you know that amaranth is one of the oldest foods on earth? It’s true.
Amaranthus, collectively known as amaranth, is a cosmopolitan genus of herbs originating from Latin America and presently cultivated in several areas of the world. Amaranthus plant is large and bushy, growing between 90 -130cm in height. It was one of the staple foodstuffs of the Incas, and it is known as kiwicha in the Andes today. It was also used by the ancient Aztecs, who called it huautli, and other Amerindian peoples in Mexico to prepare ritual drinks and foods.
Amaranth greens leaves and seeds are edible with nutritional properties. Besides protein, amaranth grain provides a very good source of vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, riboflavin, and folate, and dietary minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese. However their moderately high content of oxalic acid inhibits the absorption of calcium, and also means that they should be avoided or eaten in moderation by people with kidney disorders, gout, or rheumatoid arthritis.
Amaranth was used in several Aztec ceremonies, where images of their gods (notably Huitzilopochtli) were made with amaranth mixed with honey. The images were cut to be eaten by the people. This looked like the Christian communion to the Catholic priests, so the cultivation of the grain was forbidden for centuries. Because of its importance as a symbol of indigenous culture, and because it is very palatable, easy to cook, and its protein particularly well suited to human nutritional needs, interest in grain amaranth (especially A. cruentis and A. hypochondriaca) was revived in the 1970s. It was recovered in Mexico from wild varieties and is now commercially cultivated. It is a popular snack sold on almost every block of Mexico City, sometimes mixed with chocolate or puffed rice, and its use has spread to Europe and North America. To this day, amaranth grains are toasted much like popcorn and mixed with honey or molasses to make a treat called alegria.
Nowadays, though, most North American foragers value the amaranth for its young leaves. Some people savor them as salad makings, but the fronds taste even better when fried, steamed, creamed, or boiled and served with a homemade cheese sauce. Although amaranth is cultivated on a small scale in parts of India, and Nepal, there is potential for further cultivation in the U.S and tropical countries and it is often referred to as “the crop of the future.” Easy does it… these healthy recipes are packed with vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system. Enjoy!
(makes 12 cookies)
100 g roasted amaranth
30 g vegetable oil
70 g brown sugar
40 ml of milk
60 g flour (can be replaced with rice flour for celiacs)
1 tsp vanilla essence
amaranth cookies overflow
In a food processor or blender place the amaranth few seconds to make it as a flour. In a bowl, mix flour with amaranth flour and brown sugar.
Open a hole in the center and add eggs, oil, milk and vanilla essence. Mix all very well until a homogeneous mass. Place in a plastic wrap and make a cylinder, let stand in refrigerator 20 to 30 min. Slice the dough and overflowing in amaranth seeds. Shape with your hands. Place in greased pans (I use Pam spray). Take 170-degree oven for 20 min (depends on the oven). Halfway through baking, turn the cookies, so that both sides have a similar roasting.
1/3 cup amaranth flour
1/3 cup brown rice flour
2 tbs cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup soy milk or rice milk
1 tsp canola oil (plus 2 T or more for frying)
Fresh or frozen blueberries
Beat the egg; add the soy milk or rice milk and 1 tsp canola oil. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients, and then add to the egg mixture. Preheat a large frying pan, then add 2 T canola oil. When oil is shimmering hot; spoon the batter into the pan. Add a small handfull of blueberries to the pancakes while they are cooking. After a few minutes, when bubbles form on the surface, flip the pancakes to brown the other side. Drizzle with agave nectar and serve.