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Amaranth: the Peruvian Golden Grain

Amaranth: the Peruvian Golden Grain

Cultivated by the Aztecs 8,000 years ago, amaranth is one of the world's oldest known food crops. The native Peruvian crop was a staple food of the Aztec's (known as the "golden grain"), and an integral part of their religious ceremonies.

What is amaranth?

Although it's often referred to as a grain, amaranth is actually the seed of the amaranth plant. High in protein, amaranth contains all the essential amino acids (including lysine), and is also packed with dietary fibre. Being gluten free, amaranth is a great way for those following a gluten free diet to boost the nutritional power of their recipes.

What are the health benefits of amaranth?

Not only is native Peruvian amaranth packed with protein and fibre, it's also thought to be good for your heart by supporting healthy cholesterol levels in your body. In 1996 an American study found that the oil in amaranth seeds could lower total and LDL cholesterol levels in chickens. Another Canadian study in 2003 showed that amaranth contains phytosterols - compounds which naturally occur in plant cell membranes and have cholesterol-cutting properties.

How is amaranth used? 

Amaranth is now cultivated around the world and used in many cultural dishes. In India, Peru, Mexico and Nepal, amaranth is traditionally cooked into porridge for breakfast. It's a versatile ingredient, with a mild, nutty flavour and crunchy texture that sees it used in both sweet and savoury dishes.

Fun fact: amaranth can also be popped! So next time you have a movie night, or want a health snack, try popped amaranth over popped corn (see our recipe below).

Why use Matakana SuperFoods' amaranth?

Our Organic Peruvian Amaranth is grown in its natural habitat in Peru. Peruvian amaranth is a premium grain with a high nutritional profile.

POPPED AMARANTH

INGREDIENTS

1/2 to 1 cup amaranth
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/2 tsp coconut oil (optional) 

METHOD

  1. Rinse amaranth and let dry.
  2. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add coconut oil (if desired so the salt will adhere) to the pan. Add 1/4 cup of amaranth, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan with a single layer. Stir the grains with a wooden spoon as they pop. You should hear and sound and the amaranth may jump out of the pan. Amaranth seeds can pop very dramatically and change from a dark yellow to white.
  4. Once the amaranth has mostly popped, remove from heat and transfer to a plate to cool.
  5. Continue to pop all the amaranth in batches. Toss popped amaranth with salt and serve.