Friday, May 21, 2010

Ancient Grains : Amaranth

Globalization has done one good thing and that is the know-how and exchange of good and healthy food crops all over the world. Grains, vegetables that are available in one part of the world are now easily available all over the world. It is a completely different topic if it’s healthy or unhealthy to eat such products that are grown on a complete different part of the continent.  Still one thing is very clear that one have many choices when it comes to eating healthy if they choose too due to such globalization. In today's post we would have a look on one such grain that has been known for a long time in one part of the world, but unknown in other. Let have a look and know more about Amaranth, its health benefits and how to use it in our kitchen today.


Amaranth Grain is a well known staple food of the pre-Columbines Aztecs, and even today very famous in Mexico, Chile and other South American countries. Even in India this grains has its present since long time and known as "Rajgeera". The actual word Amaranth hails from the Greek word "never fading flower" which is true to its fact in this case. This plant is not a true grain but an annual herb, a relative of pig weed. It is said that this plant can grown in any conditions with no difficulty. Even you can put some grains on the soil and add some water on a regular bases and one can have Amaranth trees.

1] In the current time this grain is known for its high protein value present in it compare to any other grains, around 12-18%. Not only it contains high protein it does contain those types of amino acids which are very rare in any types of grains lysine and methionine.

2] Amaranth do not have a gluten in it and thus an excellent grain for all those who needs a gluten free diet like autistic individuals, and people suffering with Irritable Bowel syndrome.

3] As a grain Amaranth is said to have two times more calcium than milk. Quarter cup of these grains supplies around 60% of recommended dietary allowance of Iron. This may be the reason that Ayurveda have recommended this grain for pregnant and lactating women. Government of India in some parts have used this grain in mid-day meal program for poor kids because of its nutritious benefits.

4] Ayurveda approaches this grain as a very light to digest grain which is very healthy and nutritious. Amaranth is recommended according to Ayurveda to all those who do have blood disorders and are anemic.

5] Researchers have also found that these grains contain toctrienols a form of Vitamin E which is known for its cholesterol lowering activity in humans.

How to Use this Grains:

"The Early Aztecs used to eat this with human blood made from a special sacrifice, we do not ask that from you to use this grains".
In the current time many cultures use this grain by boiling a cup of seeds with 2 to 3 cups of either water or milk for around 18-20 minutes until the seeds get tender. One can cut also add apples or dried raisins or cranberries and some honey and sugar to make a nice healthy breakfast. 

One can also use this seeds in form of pasta and add some nice chopped mushrooms and tomato with some more greens. Let the chef in you tell you what to add and see the results.

Posted by Sudeep

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